(PUEBLO WEST, Colo.) — October is Disability Employment Awareness month. In Pueblo School District 70, there is a teacher who has a deep passion for helping his students.

Mark Chartier uses his disabilities to connect with students and teach them to how to achieve their goals.

He has taught special education for the past fifteen years and is currently teaching at Pueblo District 70 Sierra Vista Elementary School.

“My favorite part of teaching is getting to know kids with challenges and building relationships with kids,” stated Chartier. “And getting to teach them not only reading, writing and math but also how to be good, productive citizens as kids. And then when they grow up as well.”

He graduated from Coronado High School and went on to attend CSU Pueblo and UCCS.

“I came back to Pueblo because I went to college in Pueblo and I wanted to return to the community where I went to college and kind of became the man that I am,” said Chartier.

Chartier teaches students from kindergarten to fifth grade. 

“It’s wonderful. I love the little ones. And then the old ones, of course, get my jokes a little bit better,” said Chartier. “I enjoy working with all grade levels.”

The principal of Sierra Vista Elementary, Russell Braiden, described Mark as a dedicated person.

“He has a lot of natural empathy,” stated Briaden. “The kids love him. He loves the kids. So he’s a great addition to our faculty.”

Chartier grew up with Tourettes and suffered a brain injury in college causing him to stutter. When looking back at who had the biggest impact on his life, Chartier said it was teachers.

“I thought about the people that made the biggest impact on my life, and that was educators,” said Chartier. “And so I decided that I wanted to be a special ed teacher to help kids with similar struggles that I have.”

When asked about his favorite part of teaching, Chartier said it was the jokes. 

“My favorite part about teaching is the jokes I get called, you know, my kids call me Mr. C, I’ve been called Grandpa C have been called vitamin C,” said Chartier.

He also said he works to teach his students how they can tackle challenges.

“Any challenge can be overcome with hard work, a good positive attitude and perseverance and just working hard,” said Chartier.

In his classroom hangs a poster with the advice he gives to his students.

“I strive to tell my students every day I have a thing up here that says, always believe that you can make a difference, but never let your differences keep you from what you believe,” said Chartier.