MONTREAL - They call her the "Behavioural Whisperer."

Named Caregiver of the Year by Montreal special needs newspaper Inspirations, Sherri MacCallum works with about 200 special needs students at Lakeside Academy, and her influence is obvious.

"She's warm and wonderful and she understands about the human heart better than anyone I've ever met," said colleague Sandra Mill.

The students spoke glowingly about her.

"She's really nice and helpful and that's what I like about her," said student Nana Maponsah.

"I feel good around her and everything--and I'm not shy or anything like that," said another student, Fabio Banchino.

MacCallum chalks up her ease with the students to her ability to laugh.

"You need lots of humour. The kids appreciate it and the staff appreciates it, and you need to be patient and if you have those two things then everything else falls into place," she said.

Faith in her students has helped her bring out their special abilities.

"I see wonderful people. I see kids that can do things," she said. "These kids are often portrayed as people who can't -- and I see that they can."