Burcu Gül always wanted to be a teacher.
As a young child, the resident of Ankara, Turkey, would write on a chalkboard and imagine giving lessons to a classroom full of students.
“It was my dream ever since I was little,” she said. “I’ve always loved teaching.”
Gül’s dream came true in 2009. After graduating from Gazi University with a master’s degree in blindness education, she started working as a special educator.
She has since held several positions within the national Ministry of Education, serving children with a variety of disabilities, including visual impairment.
Gül is a member of the Educational Leadership Program (ELP) Class of 2017. The program, offered by Perkins International, provides advanced training to teachers of the visually impaired and other professionals from developing nations.
Earlier this month, Gül concluded a six-month program at the historic campus of Perkins School for the Blind, focusing on preschool and early intervention.
Thanks to her ELP experience, Gül now has a new dream: to open Turkey’s first-ever preschool for children with multiple disabilities and visual impairment.
“I’ve seen the model special education system here at Perkins,” said Gül. “I want to bring back as much insight to Turkey as I can.”
Gül said multiple disability education in Turkey remains an “emerging” field. There are currently very few special educators trained to meet the unique learning needs of this population, which includes students with deafblindness.
“It’s an area of need,” said Gül. “But in recent years there has been rapid progress related to special education and understanding the rights of these children.”
At Perkins, Gül learned the importance of keeping parents closely involved in their child’s education, which she said doesn’t always happen in her country.
She was also impressed with the teamwork on display by Perkins educators.
“I learned a lot about teaching strategies,” said Gül. “My plan is to continue learning. I follow a lot of special education websites, especially Perkins eLearning. I’m always researching new techniques for my classroom.”
Gül hopes to open a preschool with her husband, who also works as an educator. Applying insights from her time at Perkins’ Infant-Toddler Program, her goal is to provide vital early intervention and early-education services to children in Turkey.
Gül finds inspiration in her students, who are full of energy and speak from the heart. A voracious reader, outside the classroom she’s always buried in a book or conducting online research with her students in mind.
“I’m constantly trying to improve myself,” said Gül. “I must help these children.”