Teacher Feature: Kerry Merlo

Teacher+Feature%3A+Kerry+Merlo

Teacher Kerry Merlo didn’t always know that she wanted to go into special education. Graduating from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore with an international relations major, Merlo initially worked as a case manager, therapist and interviewer of prospective foster families for around three years. Her favorite memory from her time as a social worker was attending the final hearing when a child she worked with was adopted by his foster family. 

“I was working with kids that were in foster care that had some emotional issues and things like that. So I wanted to do something where I was helping people or kids that I thought might be in need in some way”

However, Merlo began to find her job extremely stressful “because of the neglect and trauma most of these kids had been through.” This realization helped to spur her onto the path of becoming a special education teacher.

“I liked working with children,” Merlo said, “but I didn’t want to stay in the social work or mental health field, and realized that special ed might be a good fit for me.” 

Subsequently, Merlo went back to school to get her master’s in that field while simultaneously continuing her social work. Now, she has been teaching academic seminar and reading classes at Conestoga since 2000. Merlo noted that she enjoys teaching both subjects equally and for different reasons. She likes the variety of subjects covered in academic seminar, but she has a soft spot for reading because she enjoys doing it herself so much. 

Most of all, however, Merlo’s favorite part of her job is getting to know her students. She can more easily cultivate one-on-one connections because she works with a smaller number of children than most other teachers. 

“I just enjoy developing those relationships with my students and being able to help them grow,” Merlo said.   

Outside of the special education classroom, Merlo has a 6-year-old son. Besides reading, she also enjoys doing outdoor activities, listening to music and advising Habitat for Humanity. 

“I’ve been (advising the club) for a long time,” Merlo said. “It’s been really fun to go out to the houses that they’re building in Coatesville and work on them.”