Canaday sees teaching as ‘a joy and a challenge’

Pictured (left to right) are Donna Eads, Sherrie Nichols, Tracy Canaday and LeighAnn Tate, her helpers.

Pictured (left to right) are Donna Eads, Sherrie Nichols, Tracy Canaday and LeighAnn Tate, her helpers.

By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist 

Second-year Thompson Intermediate School Special Education teacher Tracy Canaday says her “kiddos” make her and those around them worry less about the little things.

“How can you not smile when they do?” she said.

A staunch supporter of the new Alabaster City School System, Canaday has three daughters (Sydney, Abigail, and Caroline) in the system.

Volleyball is their sport of choice. With three children, Canaday really has to hustle to “stay on top” of the girls’ practices, be a wife to Rob who is in Car Max management, be a caring and productive teacher, participate in Pinterest crafts, reading, exercising and attending Westwood Church.

A Boston native, Canaday grew up playing ice hockey on frozen cranberry bogs and going into Boston to attend Celtics and Red Sox games.

Siblings consist of Scott, Jen, Sarah and Jennifer. Six nieces and Canaday’s three girls make up the grandchildren for Kathleen and Bruce Gruber.

Canaday has been working on a program at Thompson Intermediate School called “Learning at Lunch” that will begin in January.

Two peer helpers will be matched with a student who needs help with social skills at lunchtime.

It involves pairing children without special needs with special needs children.

The benefit for kids without special needs is that they gain love, acceptance and the knowledge that they are making a difference in someone’s life.

The special needs kids benefit in the same ways and also are learning some necessary social skills.

Canaday has taught in Mountain Brook, Virginia, North Carolina and Kansas.

She is a graduate of Loyola College in Maryland (BA Psychology) and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond (Masters in Education).

This spring the Canadays plan to take a special trip for their 20th anniversary.

Their last vacation trip two years ago took them to Arizona, the Grand Canyon, hiking in Sedona and attending part of the Kansas City Royals spring training activities.

Canaday cannot imagine having another job.

She loves her job, her helpers and her students.

“Each day is a joy and a challenge,” she said. “It’s my life.”