CI Hero: Peoria Public Schools teacher celebrates ‘inchstones’ for her students with developmental delays

CI Heroes

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — In a classroom inside Peoria Public School’s Thomas Jefferson Primary, self-contained Special Ed Teacher Natalie James educates students in person and online. She has kids aged three to six or seven. She celebrates “inch-stones” rather than “milestones” because her students experience the educational world differently.

James is this week’s CI Hero.

“Everything is a victory,” said Natalie James. “Sometimes it takes me years because I have my kids for multiple years to see those little victories and I am always thrilled and my heart is just oh, I’m so excited when they do it.”

Rachel Smith’s daughter Carter has Mrs. James as a teacher. Smith nominated her as a CI Hero for the boundless work James strives to do daily.

“She also does night school teaching,” said Rachel Smith. “She teaches adults to help them get their GED’s and on top of doing all the things throughout her community, she also has two amazing kids and a husband at home. So I mean, she’s doing all this stuff plus taking care of and it’s just mind-boggling that someone so busy is just so capable of so much.”

The Eureka College grad has spent a decade in the field.

“I am so honored, especially in this time,” said James. “There is so much going on you know, but to have a parent say to me, like, ‘hey we really appreciate what you do and we see you,’ that means a lot especially right now.”

Nominate someone you know to be our next CI Hero.

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