Dave Abbott faces many challenges most teachers don't face, but he also gets to witness a number of rewards others don't.
Dave is a special education teacher at the Saginaw County Juvenile Center.
He works with students from the 6th through 12th grades and about half are repeat offenders.
"I never ask them why they are here," Dave said. "I don't need to know. One of my philosophies is that every day is a new day. The slate is clean."
Most of Dave’s students lack the rigors of academic discipline, so he does his best to offer them a change of environment where they can find their learning groove and excel.
"I'm a real big believer in change of scenery," he said. "For some, this is the key to helping them turn their lives around.”
Dave also spends one day a week going to the Saginaw County Jail. Since the pandemic, he has been unable to meet with jail inmates face-to-face, but he meets with every student there at least once a month to support their progress and drop off or pick up educational materials.
Dave’s impact has not gone unnoticed.
"Dave builds phenomenal relationships with students who are incarcerated," said Laticia Whitehead, principal of the Saginaw County Juvenile Detention School. "He's fair and builds positive relationships with all his students. Because he has that special ability to work with all kinds of students from all kinds of backgrounds – Dave sincerely earns their trust."
Mr. Abbott is just one of the over 370 individuals at the Saginaw ISD who support students with special needs in our local school districts across Saginaw County.