Matt Hastings – Class of 2009
Adaptive Curriculum Teacher for High School/Middle School
for Virtual Students, Catawba County Schools

“I love the relationships I build. I love helping students and families with independence, reaching milestones, and working together to problem solve and celebrate accomplishments.” With these words, Matt Hastings describes his job as an Adaptive Curriculum Teacher. He presently is responsible for all of the virtual students in the Catawba County School system. Adaptive curriculum is a branch of Special Education that involves individualized instruction to meet the specific needs of students.

“The students in my class come to school happy almost every day and have such an optimistic attitude. I love being able to work on life skills. cooking, cleaning, job skills, and interpersonal skills. All of these lessons are in addition to the Core Education that we teach.

“I was inspired by my parents. I did not know exactly in high school what I would like to do. Once I got to Western Carolina University, I had to decide between physical education or special education and felt called to special education. I would contribute that choice to observing my parents, Joel Hastings and Sarah Hoyle, who are retired special education teachers. I saw how they worked with students, how they experienced so many exciting milestones and areas of growth with them.and how they found helping the ‘Underdog’ so rewarding. So I went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and a certification in Adaptive Curriculum K-12 and General Curriculum K-12. My first year teaching was at Fred T. Foard High School followed by six years at Jacobs Fork Middle School before taking the job working with virtual learning.”

All educators have paperwork to complete, but working with special needs students requires even more as each young person needs a specialized, individualized program. “As with most professions, paperwork can become laborious and overwhelming. Learning proper time management and ways to stay organized and to schedule in advance has been a great help. I feel that managing these skills also helps me in all aspects of my life as I try to bring my structure/planning aspects of communication and time management to my personal life, family life, and social life to best suit our time.

“Before my teaching career, I had a few other jobs. My favorite job growing up was working with former East Burke principal Trossie Wall. I shadowed him and helped him in aspects of his farm working with Black Angus Cows and his car washes with maintenance and upkeep. I loved that every day brought something new. It was not always glorious, but he taught me so much about how to complete a job and trust myself in situations which were uncomfortable.

“In college I had two jobs in addition to playing college football. I worked maintenance in the summers for Western Carolina and loved getting to work on local dorms. Whether it was setting up beds, hanging blinds, installing toilets or light fixtures, we got to do different tasks with friends. It made for a great college job.

“I also worked for the University Participant Program. The program provides students with mild-moderate disabilities the opportunity to attend classes at the university, have job training and a job, live in a dorm, and experience typical college life. It was three years of growth and fun. I left each day of work loving working with people with disabilities. I had so many laughs and times of fun. I encourage any student at Western Carolina to Volunteer and participate in the UP Program.

“I have been inspired by quite a few people. My family was a steady push and encouraged me to do the best I can and then some. My brother and sister had already graduated from East Burke, so I felt that I had high standards to attempt/complete or beat what they were able to do. My parents kept me grounded and pushed us to not only do the best in school, maintain a social life, and enjoy school but also to focus on the reason why we were there. Without my family for guidance and support, I do not know where I would be.

“My high school football coaches were great inspirations and role models for me. I am honored to have been coached by so many East Burke greats. Coach Mike Biggerstaff was my head coach. There were others including Coaches Wayne Fletcher, Mark Buffamoyer, Jim Childers, Randy Baldwin, Andrew Sparks, Adam Hastings, and Brett Huffman. I was pushed and coached hard and appreciate it. The coaches built a brotherhood, and I cherish all the memories that I have with my teammates. We knew we could always count on each other. I remember all the fun times we had in the weight room, during the summer, after the games, and just hanging out with each other enjoying the victories we had. I cherish the life lessons that we learned while playing and how it developed us to overcome adversity. Little did we know at that time, but we were being molded and prepared to handle life. Football does an amazing job of helping build character.

“Another great school experience was helped Mrs. Jackie Welch as a library assistant. We would barcode books and broadcast the News & Views. I have no idea what we were really supposed to do, but I enjoyed every minute of spending time in the Library with our crew.

“I plan to continue to make the most impact possible. I love being able to interact with students and see the ‘ah-ha! Moment.’ I hope to continue to learn about ongoing strategies for teaching students and to stay on top of current trends, and I hope to be helpful and to make an impact in others’ lives. If I can do that, I feel that I am successful.”

Published April 2021

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