Missy Conrad, a Westlake High School special education teacher, has found a second start in life with her career in teaching. The Westlake native spent years in the business world before becoming a teacher at 45. She said she always knew working with special education students was where she wanted to be.
After high school she enrolled at McNeese for education but life made others plans before she could graduate.
“I started working, met my husband, then I had kids and life just happened. I didn’t get to finish.”
She worked at the tax assessor’s office and as real estate paralegal while raising her oldest two children, both of whom are now enrolled in college.
When her youngest daughter was born, she said she was ready for a change and her friend and future-co worker, Tina Seabaugh, encouraged her to pursue her initial goal.
“She said, ‘You need to go back to school and teaching. You’d be good at this.’ I was also thinking that I wanted to be with my child. I worked long hours with my first two. So it was just in my heart and I decided to go back.”
Special education was an easy choice to pursue, she said. “My younger sister was always a SPED teacher…I would go visit her classroom and I always liked being around her kids.”
Once she entered the classroom, she knew it was exactly where she belonged.
“I just love their innocence and they all have such different personalities. They’re just so lighthearted and everything is fun to them. They just keep me laughing all day.”
Working with special education students takes a special personality, Conrad said, but the opportunity to love her students — some of whom stay in the public school system until they’re 22 — is the best part of the job.
“We love our kids like they’re our own. I take care of them like I’d want my child to be taken care of. That’s so important to the parents when you’re dealing with any kid, but especially special needs children.”
Her co-workers and her students’ parents are another enjoyable part of the job, she said.
“I love my co-workers — my special ed team. They make it easy. And we have wonderful parents. If I call any of them and say, ‘I need this,’ our parents are on it.”
If given the chance to wish for anything as a teacher, Conrad wished for her students to be truly seen.
“Just that everyone would see through our kids disabilities and see all the possibilities in them. Sometimes people are scared of the disabilities, but if they could just see all the goodness and past the disability.”
When Conrad isn’t teaching she said she enjoys spending time at their family camp at Toledo Bend.
“That’s like my relaxing. We go up there just to get away.”
Written by Marlisa Harding