Kids are People too


Yeoman Payne
Special Educator
Vanguard Collegiate Middle School, Baltimore, MD

“Kids are people too.” That’s a message Yeoman Payne finds herself repeating to Urban Teachers' newest cohort of residents as they work to master the complexities of managing a classroom. A recent graduate of Urban Teachers, Yeoman is now a member of the clinical faculty. She also heads up her school’s special education department, coordinating services for students with disabilities school-wide.

Prior to this year, Yeoman taught students with a range of intellectual and behavioral challenges. She found that smaller classrooms allowed her to see each student’s needs and coach them to become self-advocates. With the right support, Yeoman has seen students grow five reading levels in three years, significantly closing academic gaps and becoming more confident learners in the process.

Initially, Yeoman believed the greatest advantage of her Urban Teachers training was the master’s degree with a dual focus in general and special education, one that exposed her to a host of practical strategies for teaching diverse learners. She’s since decided that the program's greatest gift was a mindset: Urban Teachers treats special education as part of every teacher’s work and gives teachers the skills to support each child as an individual. 

“Urban Teachers participants learn that every kid is their responsibility,” Yeoman says. She wishes every new teacher got such an opportunity.