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Lori Cauthen takes over as Director of Exception Children

Back to her roots, Lori Cauthen working with students at Benton Heights Elementary

Lori Cauthen took the helm as Director of Exceptional Children on June 21, 2010, after having spent the past four years as Director of Elementary Education. “I’ve come back home to my roots,” she said.

Her love and passion for working with exceptional children began when her career first started as a first-grade teacher in Anson County. She was a mid-year replacement teacher, and the class had been ongoing for several months.

Her first day in the classroom, however, she was stunned to find a first-grade child placed in the back of the classroom and allowed to sleep all day. “They had already given up on him,” she said. “It was evident that he had some learning challenges, but he’s still part of the class. He can still learn.” So Cauthen picked up his chair and placed his desk in the middle of the classroom. “I gave him a reading book even though he couldn’t read “a” from “the,” and he had to come to the reading group with the other students. He was part of us. And he did learn.”

Due to her experience in that classroom, she immediately went back to school to get her certification to be a teacher of exceptional children, which led to her exceptional teacher jobs at Union Elementary and Forest Hills High schools.

When she came on board as the EC director, her first order of business was to survey principals, assistant principals, EC teachers and EC staff to ascertain the departments strengths, weaknesses and suggestions for improvement. “We’re going to analyze and set some goals for ourselves and then develop our own department improvement plan,” she said. 

“I look at taking this job like a principal that goes in and takes over a school. A leader sits back and asks questions as to why things are done the way they’re done and find out if other methods have been tried.”
At this point, Cauthen said she is still gathering that information. “I’m still in the process of analyzing everything. I’ve got a lot of great, wonderful people to work with and if we sit back and ask ourselves some questions and collaborate together, we will come up with a good long range plan for where we want to take the EC department.”

One of her major goals in her new role is to make sure all departments continue to work together in the education of EC children. “Elementary, middle and high school directors and the EC department, under the leadership of Dr. Mary Ellis, have already been working together collaborately on instructional initiatives. It’s not just one department. We’re all working together.”

Her philosophy for the future is simple. “It’s not about where you been, it’s where you’re going. It’s about continuous improvement.”

Cauthen and her husband, Thomas Cauthen, have two sons: Cody and Christian.

Written by: Deb Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 06, 2010 by Lynette Parker

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