Gina Coley, MA CESP

Project SEARCH Coordinator

Began at Teachwell:


Why did you choose this field?

I chose to go into special education because I wanted to make an impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities. I originally went to college to be a speech-language pathologist, but I fell in love with the idea of teaching students with disabilities and helping them reach their individual IEP goals.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

A teacher

What or who most inspires you?

I have always been inspired by the achievement my students feel when they reach their individual IEP goals.

Why Teachwell?

I have had the opportunity to work alongside Teachwell for 10+ years when some of my previous high school students transitioned from high school to Teachwell for their transition years. I loved how passionate the staff were and the opportunities they were able to provide my students.

What are you proudest of?

My husband (David) and my daughter (Brielle).

How do you hope to make a difference?

As the new Project SEARCH Coordinator, I hope to develop new and exciting job opportunities for my students through our partnership with Avera McKennan Hospital. I also hope to provide my students with customized employment, as one size does not fit all.

What lessons has your work life taught you?

Never let your circumstance determine what you will be able to accomplish.

What is your background? Experience, degrees, skills, etc.?

I have a B.S. in Communication Disorders with a minor in Psychology and a M.A. in Special Education K-12 from the University of South Dakota. I previously taught at Tea Area High School for 13 years as the 9th-12th Life Skills Special Education Teacher. In this role, I helped create and develop the Life Skills program at the high school level. I provided my students specialized instruction in functional academics and adaptive skills within the classroom and out in the community through real-life experiences.

People would be surprised to know that I . . .

I can sing the alphabet backwards.