Sandy educator empowers students
who learn differently to succeed
Growing up, Ryan Cauch was very close with his uncle, who was born with Down syndrome. Now, at the age of 43, Cauch helps students with learning, intellectual and other disabilities as a special education instructor at Sandy High School.
“I think having someone with special needs in your life breeds humbleness and patience,” Cauch said. “I’ve always been really close to him, and we taught special Olympics together.”
Education wasn’t Cauch’s first career, but he seems intent on it being his last. When he was 17, Couch worked in hospitality, and when he was in his 30s, he went back to school online to pursue a path in teaching.
Cauch attended the University of Phoenix for his associate’s degree in education, bachelor’s degree in psychology, and master’s degree in special education while working full-time, so he could continue to be there financially and physically for his wife and three young children.
Cauch has taught at Sandy High for seven years in a self-contained classroom, focusing on student behaviors. In addition, he student taught at Cedar Ridge Middle School and currently lives in Sandy.
“I wanted to work here,” said Cauch. “It was fortuitous how it worked out.”
Besides teaching about 35 special education students, Cauch is also an advisory teacher for a class of juniors and the advisor of the school’s GSA.
While Cauch may be quick to dole out positive reinforcements in his classroom, he said that when he heard the news that he was nominated as an Amazing Educator, he was really excited.
“I’m not someone who usually takes compliments and accolades,” he explained. “I think a lot of times special education is really on the fringe, so people don’t always recognize those in this field. If there was something I wish more people understood about educators, it’s how much work teachers really put in. We’re not just here during school time.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic sent children home for comprehensive distance learning, Cauch said it was a “mixed bag” of impacts for his students. It meant an increase in already somewhat redundant paperwork for special education instructors.
“For socially anxious kids, COVID was great, but other kids who need that one-on-one support struggled,” Cauch said. “It’s been a lot to try and re-engage kids after COVID.”
During his near decade of teaching, Cauch has watched many students thrive and go on to succeed after high school. He has attended every graduation, saying they mark the most rewarding part of his job.
“It’s really a long play for me,” he explained. “The best part of my job is seeing those kids walk across the graduation stage. The students I get at the beginning of the year are very different people when they graduate.”