Welcome to Julie Billiart Schools, a family of K-8 coeducational, independent day schools for children with learning differences.


Interested in Enrollment?

Take the Next Step

Monday, May 17, 2021

Teachers Who Believe In Our Mission Support Students In and Out of The Classroom

All of our teachers understand that when it comes to Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), the most important part is the Individualized component. That is exactly what Alyssa Szpalik and Shannon Cole, 2nd grade intervention specialists at Julie Billiart School Akron, really feels sets JB apart. Alyssa has been involved with JB for the past 3 years and Shannon has been with us for the past 2 and a half. They truly embody what it means to be part of the JB community and that impacts the way they teach and how their students continue to grow.

What makes you passionate about special education?

Alyssa: For me, I always wanted to find a place and be a part of something where I can really help meet the needs of the students. I’ve worked in both the general education and special education settings and I really enjoy being able to advocate for our kids and truly make an impact.

Shannon: When I was younger I knew I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was doing work study in high school, I was given the opportunity to shadow the “transition-to-work” group and it clicked. To this day I still go back and visit and spend time with them.

In addition to the basic curriculum, what skills do you feel are important to focus on?

Alyssa: We find it really important to teach our students to advocate for themselves. We want to encourage them to feel, process, and express their emotions in a healthy way. It’s a life skill that all students should continue to learn as they grow. The earlier start, the better.

Shannon: Going from 2nd grade to 3rd grade is a big jump for most kids, so throughout the year we work to incorporate responsibility and independence into our lessons. We encourage our students to take responsibility for their work and really try to work through problems independently.

How would you describe your second-grade class?

Alyssa & Shannon: They are all so fun and silly. They have such unique personalities and they make teaching fun. You can also see that they truly care about their classmates and everyone in the school. They support each other and are extremely kind and caring.

Teachers Who Believe In Our Mission Support Students In and Out of The Classroom

What are your favorite activities and lessons to do in 2nd grade?

Alyssa: For me, it’s science hands down! With science, we get to move around and really bring a lesson to life. When we studied magnets, the kids got to walk around and see what magnets stick to and what surfaces. It also pushes our kids outside of their comfort zones just a little. Some of them have sensory issues so they might not be as excited to touch things like slime at first, but then they open up and have a great time.

Shannon: We focus a lot on repetition in our class in order to help our students remember things in math, and to do this we incorporate songs. For example, in our morning meeting, we have been singing songs about fractions and money to help them understand the concepts. It’s a fun activity that gets them involved in their learning but it’s still fun and doesn’t feel like work.

Speed Round!


  • Favorite Food? Tacos

  • Favorite Game/Hobby? Kickboxing

  • Favorite color? Purple

  • Favorite thing about JB? The overarching sense of community. From the teachers and students to the parents and families - we are all just one big supportive family.


  • Favorite Food? Mashed Potatoes

  • Favorite Game/Hobby? Riding bikes with my daughter

  • Favorite color? Purple

  • Favorite thing about JB? The individualized approach we offer. Every student who comes through is unique and our approach to supporting them and educating them is just as personalized.

Any final thoughts on what makes Julie Billiart Schools special?

Alyssa: JB is a place where everyone belongs and is extremely loved. They come here to learn and grow - not just on paper but also socially and in life in general. The kids leave here proud of who they are and what they have accomplished.

Shannon: Students at JB are all different. There really isn’t a norm they have to fit into to feel accepted. They can be who they are, with all of their little quirks and everything that makes them unique, without fear of being judged.

open-quote All of the teachers and staff at JB are patient and willing to take the extra time to make sure we, as parents, understand and are comfortable. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools has helped my child become a better version of himself. The teachers and therapists at JB really know and understand how to reach children who learn differently. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words how grateful I am that you saw my daughter for all that she is today and all that she is yet to become. close-quote

Tammie Sommer

open-quote My kids love everything about JB and look forward to going to school every day and seeing their friends and teachers. JB is truly a one of a kind school enriching young lives everyday. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools gave us hope after our daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability. At JB, she thrived in the small classes, received necessary therapies, and developed the self-confidence to ask for help when she needed it. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote They have all the resources necessary, specialized to the individual learning of each child, and the heart that goes with it. I don't think we would have stayed in Ohio if it wasn't for JB! close-quote

JB Parent

Ready to take the next step?

Follow Our Admissions Process

Share This Page