Dr. Zachary West

Dr. Zachary West Joins Henney Department of Education

Brayden Scering

New assistant professor of education Dr. Zachary West has a wealth of experience as well as a passion for teaching and helping individuals with intellectual disabilities. His advice to students: “Become a Special Ed teacher; it’s the best decision you can make.”

West has had a seemingly endless array of experiences and jobs before finally settling at Manchester University where he will teach education. He hopes to continue his research on the abuse and neglect of individuals with developmental disabilities.

Growing up, West experienced both city life in Columbus, Ohio and rural life in a small town with his dad. He attended Heidelberg University, a small private college that is relatively close in population to Manchester. There he played soccer, ran track, and even competed in ballroom dance, graduating with degrees in health and physical education and sports management fitness. He also attended Northcentral University, where he received his PhD in special education.

West knew teaching was going to be his career during his senior year of college. “This is what I’m good at, this is what I’m passionate about, and this is what I want to do,” he said. He gathered up both his passion for teaching and a desire for small-town life, and it led him to Manchester University.

West has always been surrounded by the special education field. His best friend growing up had intellectual disabilities and when West tutored him, that directed his journey into a career of special education. His mother also worked in special education—for 43 years—before she retired. “I’ve been in special ed longer than I’ve been alive,” West said with a smile.

Special education has brought him many opportunities, as he worked with adults with developmental disabilities during his time in college and worked as an intervention specialist in Cincinnati before his time at Manchester. As an intervention specialist he worked with 32 students individually in math, filed paperwork and taught in the classroom. He described his day-to-day life as “busy.”

Before deciding to teach, West was in the field of adaptive PE: he wanted to own and operate his own gym for individuals with developmental disabilities to enjoy the company of others, have a social life and live a healthier lifestyle. This almost came to fruition when a friend of his was invited to buy someone’s gym and they considered it, but it didn’t pan out due to Covid. “It’s still in the back of my mind that I do want to pursue that,” West said.

This wasn’t really a setback because it led him into the field of special education and teaching. His thesis at Northcentral was on the abuse and neglect of individuals with developmental disabilities. His research focused on the lack of training that the providers receive and how that leads to the abuse and neglect. He wants to prove that providers need detailed training and experience before they began a role as a caregiver to an individual with developmental disabilities. West plans to continue his research at Manchester to keep his research up to date and to get it published in journals to make a real change.

West lives with his family in Wabash where he, his wife and their two daughters enjoy their small-town life even though their oldest daughter Phoenix often misses her favorite family adventure to Target. Students can catch West in many places at Manchester––either in his office, the classroom in ACEN, or in his favorite dining spot, Haist Commons.