Cone cares in exceptional ways
SUN. |11-5-23| FEATURES
Rose has welcomed a large number of new staff members this year, one of them being Exceptional Children (EC) teacher Rebecca Cone. Cone has worked in education for 10 years and even though she has taught for seven of them, becoming a teacher was not always her plan.
“I tried to be everything else first, despite my mother telling me I was supposed to be a teacher,” Cone said.
Cone previously taught at Wakelon Elementary School In Zebulon, before she started at Rose in April.
“Mostly I fought, I didn't want to come [because] I wanted to stay at my old school, but the drive was really far,” Cone said. “I already knew I would love this job and wanted to do this, so I just had to take that step and come do it.”
Cone became involved with the Student Government Association (SGA) long before she began working at Rose, as it is run by her mother, Luisa Haynes.
Photo by Gabriela Castillo
“Even when I wasn't here [SGA] was still part of all of our lives, in coordinating things and participating in things and supporting her outside the school,” Cone said. “I feel like I'm still doing a little bit of supporting my mother, who does everything.”
Cone is the teacher for the Autism Center-Based Program (AUCBP) at Rose. Most of her students are on the future-ready track, which means they still take all of the classes required for a high school diploma, but they have curriculum assistance, where they focus on anything that impacts students with autism. Cone’s other students are Extended Content Standard students, which means they are learning for the future, but they’re not working towards a high school diploma.
“I didn't know that EC was my calling until I stumbled into it, working one on one for a student with special needs,” Cone said. “I fell in love with him and I fell in love with EC and everything else [that] kept happening after that brought me here.”
An average day for Cone looks different than other teachers at Rose. Her first period is not a class where her students come to her, but rather where she comes to them, checking in on them and checking in with their teachers. Her second and fourth periods are for curriculum assistance,and her third period is for planning, where she has students that eat lunch separately in her classroom.
“They are my people, I love my class [and] I love my students,” Cone said. “It's something that makes sense to me.”
With a new job comes new challenges, like moving to a new city and taking the place of a previous teacher, but Cone’s love for what she does has helped her in the transition.
“Having a new job and moving [are two] stressful things in life happening all at one time,” Cone said. “I've had to sort of pick up some of the pieces that [the previous teacher] left that worked, but [also] come up with a lot of new things, so that's been a challenge.”
Through her job, Cone works to suppress stereotypes about autism and make her classroom a comfortable environment for her students.
“There's a very large spectrum and sometimes when they can't be understood verbally, they still know so much, so take the time to get to know them, it's worth it.”