Joni Martin stands by canned goods.

Helping Students and Horses 

Ms. Martin retiring after 7 years at DT 

By: Benjamin VanDiest

The Special Education Department is preparing to say goodbye to an extraordinary individual who has been leading the way and helping DT students to succeed for the past 7 years. Ms. Joni Martin is retiring from DT at the end of the school year.

When asked why she followed her passion and got into the field of Special Education to help students learn and gain important life skills.

 Martin said, “When I was 15 years old I volunteered at the Hastings Regional Center. It was a home for disabled children. I had never had a job since I was only 15, but I had a blast that summer. I realized that I loved working with kids with special needs. I then started my career as a special education teacher/kindergarten teacher in a very small school.” 

Over the past 7 years, Martin has created fun memories working with her students including giving out a staff appreciation of the week award and selling coffee and tea as a part of DTea and coffee.   

When reflecting back on those years she said, “I’d have to say that my favorite thing is seeing former students get out and just really spread their wings and fly! Nothing makes me happier than hearing from former students who have found their place in life, gotten good jobs, moved out on their own, maybe gotten a driver’s license. I love the success stories.” 

Once the 2021-2022 school year ends, Martin is looking forward to spending quality time with her five grandchildren. She is also hoping to do more horseback riding and camping with her three horses all over the midwest.  She plans on going to Big Horn in Wyoming, Fort Robinson in Nebraska, the Black Hills in South Dakota, and various other locations in Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa. However, the most spectacular trip she has planned does not involve taking her horses. She is planning in November on witnessing the polar bears in Churchill, Canada. 

Whether it’s teaching students in her classroom or spending time with her beloved horses, Martin’s advice to future special education teachers is, “Follow your passion. You must love kids and have a LOT of patience. There are so many benefits to being a special education teacher. You make bonds with students that last many years. You better be flexible and be able to go with the flow because every day is different, and if you have a schedule you can count on it changing many times throughout the week. It’s a great career!” 

Doniphan-Trumbull will be sad to see Martin retire, but is excited for the new adventures that await her.