Susie Hogart is retired, but she still spends a lot of her time in the same halls she left this past May.
The 57-year-old departed from Emerson Elementary in May after 32 years of teaching special education there. But she’s worked even longer than that for kids and adults with disabilities.
Hogart has volunteered with the Special Olympics for over four decades, since she was a student at Butte Central High School. Several weeks ago the organization honored her for her work over 42 years.
Hogart, who is involved with nearly all aspects of the Special Olympics, including swimming, track and field and basketball, said she loves watching the kids succeed in every sport. She said the experience helps kids with self-esteem and gives them great life experiences.
“You should see the smiles on their faces when they cross the finish line,” Hogart said.
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Hogart discovered her passion for working with kids with special needs after spending time with a child down the street who had Down syndrome. She said her family was close with the child’s family, and she spent a lot of time with him. Going into high school, she joined Sparks, a group of student advocates for people with special needs.
During the winter, she always had her students get involved with the Special Olympics’ ski program. She said she always saw a positive impact from the students’ involvement in the program.
Her friend and fellow special education retiree Karla Ahlborn said Hogart is great with special needs youngsters.
“Susie is very caring about the kids, but she’s very strict” and sets boundaries, Ahlborn said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of background the kids come from. (Hogart) treated everyone the same.
“She just put her all into it, 100 percent, every single day,” Ahlborn added.
Hogart has dedicated nearly her entire life to the Mining City’s special kids, but she’s also very involved with her family. She has three daughters, one of whom is a preschool special education teacher in Las Vegas, and celebrated her 33rd anniversary with her husband Dan.