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Virginia Journal of Education

10 Minutes with…Elizabeth Chandler

Itinerant Teacher of the Hearing Impaired
Local:  Prince George Education Association                 
Years worked in education:  11

What is a typical school day like for you?
As an itinerant teacher of hearing impaired students, I service Prince George County and four surrounding school districts, teaching 19 students in 15 different schools in grades Pre-K thru 12. A typical day begins with a visit to my base school to gather/drop off materials and equipment, check e-mail and work on IEPs. On busy days I travel directly to individual schools to begin servicing students, typically visiting three to six schools and driving 50 miles per day. Sessions with students can last up to an hour depending on the IEP and individual needs. In addition to sessions with students, I also spend time troubleshooting assistive technology, such as FM systems, cochlear implants, hearing aids and sound field systems. I hold conferences with teachers, provide instructional in-services, and serve as a liaison between students, parents and teachers. Some days I’m fortunate to travel back to my base school at the end of the day to finish working on IEPs, write daily notes, or catch up on e-mail. However, with my increasing caseload I am often not able to make the trip. More often than not I end my day late at night, doing a lot of planning, paperwork and e-mails at home after my children go to bed.      

What do you like about your job?
The most enjoyable aspects of my job are the students. Unlike classroom teachers, I have the pleasure of keeping students year after year, so I get to see them grow and progress. Additionally, I have the opportunity to develop positive relationships with their parents and guardians. Visiting 15 schools affords me the chance to interact with teachers, administrators, receptionists and support staff in each school. Interacting with others helps me to collaborate with professionals and learn new ways to differentiate my instruction. 

What is hard about your job?
The most difficult aspect of my job is scheduling. Trying to accommodate students’ individual schedules combined with travel time and individual teacher requests makes scheduling difficult. Many of the students I serve also have additional related services, therefore decreasing the window of opportunity to teach them during a convenient time. Unfortunately, not all service times are convenient, but I make it a point to keep the students’ best interest in mind. Finding a space to work is another significant challenge I face, sometimes on a daily basis: There has been many a time when I have worked with students in the hallway, outside, cafeteria or even the stage because there was no other room available.
What are some of the most fun and unusual things that have happened on the job?
One of the proudest moments I have had as an educator is seeing one of my students graduate after 11 years of teaching him. This year I was able to graduate a student I began servicing in my first year as an educator.  I am very proud of this young man for many reasons, but most of all because he was able to persevere through his disability and graduate with an advanced diploma. 

The unusual aspects of my job occur during the trips from school to school.  The traffic, car accidents, and unplanned detours encountered in one day can be amazing. And then there is always the stray cat or dog in the school parking lot that pulls at my heartstrings.  

How has being an Association member been helpful to you?
I feel it is important as a professional to have a voice, and the VEA provides this voice. I joined the VEA to be part of a professional organization that would serve as my advocate in time of need. I’ve found over the years, however, that the VEA is much more than a “when needed” organization. It’s proactive and helps to keep me abreast of current educational issues.  I have also enjoyed the educator discounts at restaurants, movies and theme parks. 


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