HOMEDALE, Idaho -- Janel Van Dyke is a special education teacher at Homedale Elementary. She's dedicated to helping her incredible students learn and grow. She also knows the joys and the heartache of being a parent of a special needs child.
That's because her 6-year-old son Bayler has cerebral palsy. He is in her class.
It's nice because I am here, and I can see what he does and if he needs things, Janel explains. I have access to everything, there is great therapy here.
Bayler actually inspired his mom to get back into the classroom as a special education teacher. Janel temporarily gave up teaching to have her kids, but for the past three years she's been back in the classroom in Homedale. She knows what the parents of her students are dealing with, and they can relate to each other.
I remember being in that position, and it's nice to have somebody who understands where you are coming from, Janel told KTVB.
From Monday through Friday, you'll find Janel reading, singing, and even playing tag with the kids in her class. She loves all of her students. She'll also tell you that Bayler is her greatest joy.
It's tough for Janel to pinpoint what makes her son so loveable. I don't know, everything? Janel says. It's kind of hard to talk about because he is amazing. I'm amazed at what he does, he doesn't speak, but he touches so many lives.
Bayler is also a huge Boise State fan, he loves to wear his blue and orange.
He loves Boise State, he loves football, Janel said. I honestly think on TV, the visual of it, the field, the colors.
Janel says her family dreams of going to a BSU game one day. However, as a mother of four, it would be expensive to take the whole family to Bronco Stadium.
KTVB decided to do something extra special for the Van Dykes. We hid six Boise State tickets to the Boise State vs. Fresno State game in Bayler's favorite puzzle. It was an emotional surprise for mom and son.
The Van Dykes went to their first Boise State game this past weekend. Bayler loved every minute of it.
He is a huge gift, we are blessed to have him, Janel said. He's made our family who we are. We wouldn't be the way we are without him.
Janel is a hero mom, and a hero teacher. Just ask anyone at Homedale Elementary, and they will tell you!
Janel Van Dyke, Seven's Hero.