03 Dec 2023 Person of the Month: Denisha Knapp
My husband, Zach, and I will have been married for eight years on Dec. 20. We have two children, Nyla and Dakota..
I am a 2013 graduate of Hot Springs High School. I received my bachelor’s degree in education from UCA in 2017. This year, I started my master’s degree at Arkansas State University.
Last school year, I volunteered for the Helping All Little Ones (HALO) program. This summer, I volunteered at the special needs Bible school at Salem United Methodist Church. I am a Conway Special Athlete co-sponsor/coach and help with Caring Cats.
I play competitive city league kickball and volleyball. I love all things caffeine: coffee, energy drinks and Dr. Pepper Strawberries & Cream Zero Sugar.
I have served Conway Public School District in many capacities over the past six years. Currently, I am a special education teacher at the high school and co-teach three courses: English 12, World History and Oral Communication. Throughout the day, I serve approximately 125 kids.
I’ve had several honors throughout my life, some of the most recent including Paraprofessional of the Year, Arkansan of the Day and Conway Core Values Champion. However, my Unified Basketball (UB) team accomplishments stick out the most. It provides an inclusion opportunity for special ed students. There is a 3:2 ratio of special ed to general education students on the court.
Last year, Mrs. Sheppard and I coached our first-ever UB team to a state championship. To me, it did not matter if we won or lost, it was about inclusion, relationships and experiences. Many of my players had never eaten at a nice restaurant or stayed overnight in a hotel. It was exciting to see them experience these things for the first time. At the end of our journey, one of my co-workers gifted me a plaque for Most Inspirational Coach.
Why do you enjoy working with people with special needs:
I mean, why not? Of course, it’s challenging, but so rewarding. I have challenged myself to open my heart and be present for kids with unique needs—to watch and listen without judgment, striving to understand. Every kid is on a unique journey and needs tailored instruction to be successful. The students push me to be the best version of myself and keep me on my toes. I want to be a lifelong learner, and I feel like God gifted me this when he called me to special education. I constantly look for new and innovative ways to reach my students.
What are you looking forward to this Christmas season:
This will be my first year to help with Angel Paws. This program serves Conway Public School District kids who need assistance for Christmas.
I am blessed to be surrounded by people, past and present, who pour into me, believe in me and provide me with an example of what it means to be a champion for those around you. Two people that specifically come to mind are my mom, Chenitia Scott, and my former English teacher and cheer coach, Amanda Barker.