Since she was little, Annabel Bentley knew she wanted to be a teacher. Now, serving as an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, Annabel is the lead teacher for Classroom 6 at Rainbows’ Kids’ Point.
“While going through schooling to become a teacher, I found that my passion was for the younger ages,” Annabel said. “I knew then that I would want to teach Pre-K or kindergarten!”
Annabel has a bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University in Early Childhood Unified which allows her to teach children from the age of 6 weeks to 6th grade.
It was through her work at Rainbows that Annabel learned she has a passion for working with children with special needs. By chance, Annabel applied to Rainbows and was hired in the Family Support Services. “Once I began working at Rainbows I fell in love with the kids,” she said. “I began to take classes along with my school work to learn more about the various disabilities and decided I wanted to be a Special Education Teacher. I don’t know that I would have decided to take this course in life had I not begun working at Rainbows.”
Annabel’s favorite Rainbows moment goes back to her first year at Camp Woodchuck when she attended her first choir practice. “I went with my class to the gym and stood with my buddy, totally unprepared for what would come next,” she said. “Oh Happy Day started playing on the stereo and everyone seemed to know exactly what to do. The kids and staff began swaying, clapping, and singing. The majority of the choir was off key, off beat, and some kids were swaying the wrong direction. As I looked around at what was happening before me, tears filled my eyes. It was the most amazing choir I had ever heard. It wasn’t about being on key, on beat, or in sync, it was about the kids having the time of their life and giving them the opportunity to be a part of something they would never be able to do anywhere else. I learned it isn’t about the disabilities, but about the amazing abilities each child has and the wonderful impact they have on me and everyone they meet, including me!”
She has been with Rainbows for 5 years, but says her biggest accomplishment is completing her first successful year of teaching Pre-K at Kids’ Point. Annabel’s classroom holds many fun adventures for her students such as gardening. Classroom 6 submitted vegetables to the Sedgwick County Fair and won third place for their jalapeno peppers.
“Each day is filled with fun and laughter,” Annabel said. “Helping the students learn different skills through fun hands-on activities fills my days. I am actively engaged with the students at their level from the moment I walk in the doors until I leave for the day.”
In December 2017, the PRISM Award was presented to Annabel. This award was created in 2014 to recognize a staff member who demonstrates the Guiding Principles; achieves excellence in the role they fulfill for the organization; demonstrates leadership; makes children and families their highest priority; and represents Rainbows in a way that reflects positively on the entire organization. Annabel was honored for her determination, intuitiveness and creativity. In her teaching role, she embodies Rainbows’ guiding principles of treating children with dignity, respect and compassion; she is consistently positive, recognizes children’s success, and celebrates their achievements.