Teacher feature: Get to Know Special Education Department’s Dawn Stygles and Madeline Wilson


Photo Courtesy: Dawn Stygles (left) and Madeline Wilson (right)

What surprised you most about teaching at BHS during covid?

Dawn Stygles: I think what surprised me the most was how flexible that we have to be as teachers in order to accommodate students during this difficult time. 


Madeline Wilson:Learning how to adapt curriculum. I do speech and language therapy and so adapting materials for online and remote learning and, I would say, that in that process the students and staff that I have been able to work with have been so flexible and able to adapt and be gracious when technology wasn’t working…So that was surprising. 


Would you rather go back to 1921 or to 2121 and why?

Dawn Stygles: 1921 because I think life was probably a little bit simpler then, and you were able to live sustainably, live off the land and not have to worry about so much pollution and stuff like that, It just seems like the world and the earth was more pure then.  


Madeline Wilson: I’m gonna say 1921, I like that time period. Sometimes I feel like I should have been born in the past further back. 


Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?  

Dawn Stygles: I went to an alternative school and the teacher there his name was Lars Barris and I liked him because he met students, he met me where I was at the time but he was also strict enough without making me feel bad about myself to keep me accountable for stuff that I was doing. 


Madeline Wilson: So probably one of the most influential teachers I had was a history teacher and he had us write a ten-page single-spaced paper. I want to say it was on nine eleven. It was. It was on nine eleven and we had to read the nine eleven Commission report which, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen, is massive, and go through and condense everything into a ten-page single-spaced paper which is a lot and he was one of the first people who said that I had a talent with writing and I love to write. And it’s something he wrote into the back of my paper just kind of scribbled and that one piece of writing I have thought about for, I don’t want to say my age, but maybe fifteen years I’ve been thinking about it. So I guess you just never know. I think it just speaks to how influential one person and one small compliment can be in helping others. 


What is the first word that pops into your head when you think of yourself in high school?

Dawn Stygles: A Mess.


Madeline Wilson: The first one I thought was awkward, maybe I was probably. Yeah, I don’t know, maybe I was unique, how about unique? 


Cats or dogs?

Dawn Stygles: Both equally but dogs have a little bit more of a special place in my heart


Madeline Wilson: I like both but dogs have a certain, I’m gonna say dogs. I feel like they’re more your buddies. 


What inspired you to go into special education?

Dawn Stygles: I worked as a first-grade classroom teacher and I felt like the needs of the students weren’t exactly being met so I decided I wanted to go into special education because I thought I could be a more effective teacher doing that role instead of a classroom teacher. So it’s just a passion of mine to work with students who have trouble learning or anything like that and I just really enjoy working in the special ed population. 


Madeline Wilson: I wanted to be in a field that mattered. I guess a cliche thing for speech and language therapists is that you help people have a voice. But it’s really so true. I love watching students develop their communication skills and have those “aha!” moments where they have been able to communicate something that previously they weren’t sure how to do. There are just so many pleasant surprises. There’s just this really great feeling that comes with seeing someone grow in that area where they feel like there being heard. So I guess that’s why. I wanted to be in a field that really made a difference. 


What are you currently reading or watching? 

Dawn Stygles: I watch a lot of Forensic Files, The First Forty Eight, a lot of crime mystery shows because I just like to see if I can figure out who does it before the end of the show. Currently, I’m not really reading or I guess the only thing I’m really reading about right now is restorative practice. 


Madeline Wilson:I have been really interested in reading Ernest Hemingway’s short stories. That’s been my latest. I have a collection of short stories. 


What’s your favorite book of all time? 

Dawn Stygles: I think the favorite book of all time is called The Power of our Words. I carry it wherever I go, It’s written by Palendenton. 


Madeline Wilson: My favorite book of all time is Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin. That is my favorite one but the best book that I ever read was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I’m a huge Jane Austin fan. I think she’s really witty, I think a lot of times people may find her dry but you have to, the way that she puts word together to me is incredibly witty if you’re looking for it and Anna Karenina captures human emotion better.  I’ve never read anything that comes close to the way that Tolstoy is able to capture emotion. It actually made me kind of quit writing for a while because I have no hope of being as good as he was so. 


If you got stuck on an island what 3 things would you have with you?

Dawn Stygles: My Children, my dogs, and chocolate. 


Madeline Wilson: Maybe a never-ending supply of pen and paper. You know what I might take Anna Karenina cause it’s so big it would take me a while to get through it and I could keep rereading it and finding new things. 


Small town or big city?

Dawn Stygles:  Small towns.


Madeline Wilson: Small town though my alternate ego might like to live in the city. Like sometimes I think about it but when I’m there I’m like no that’s not it. 




What’s a hobby you have picked up during covid?

Dawn Stygles:  I don’t know if it’s a hobby but I picked up walking. I walk a lot now to help with the isolation but also to get out to get fresh air but I also have a treadmill now so I also walk on that.


Madeline Wilson: Well, I started writing again and I am working on short story skills which is why I’m reading Hemmingway. 


What’s your favorite weird food combination? 

Dawn Stygles: I like Bacon in my ice cream so a maple bacon ice cream.


Madeline Wilson: Since I have moved to Vermont I would say that I find the most weird food combination that I like is probably the sugar on show combination with the pickle and the doughnut. That’s weird, that’s a weird combo. 


Summer or Winter?

Dawn Stygles:  Summer.


Madeline Wilson: I used to hate winter but I have found myself looking forward to it recently or within the last couple of years since I moved here so I guess my answer is, no still not winter probably summer but really fall, fall’s my favorite.