It's never too late to reach for your dreamsDepartment:
Master of Education, Special Education
How did you decide on teaching Special Education?
I began working with Special Needs students at Baldwin as an Educational Assistant and immediately became attached to the students. These students are labled "Special" for a good reason. My first assignment was working with lower functioning students, mostly autistic MR & LD, and eventually with students with emotional and behavioral problems such as Down Syndrome, higher functioning Autistic students and students with epilepsy. For some reason, special needs students are drawn to me. Maybe it's because I am the eldest in a family of 12 boys and 3 girls, so I believe I have been training for this job all my life. Besides, I have six beautiful daughters, so they must know that I have an abundance of patience.
The SPED students can really feel that I care about them. These students want to be loved, need love and attention, just like any human being. You can see it in their eyes, that they appreciate you. The reward is when they light up whenever they finally 'get it'! I enjoy sharing their happiness, their successes and am there to help with their failures as well.
What are you most excited about starting this cohort?
The main thing I am excited about is that I will be able to set an example for others to follow, hopefully as a role model. I am 58 years old and just recently earned my Bachelors in Social Sciences. My principal placed her faith in me and hired me to teach her exceptional children this past March. I'm a father, a grandpa and a coach. I also find time to train to be one of the top Master's runner in the State of Hawai‘i.
Therefore, I am hoping I can inspire others who aspire to go back to college and feel they are "too old", or don't have the time, resources or energy. "Just Do It!"(Nike). I also want to take what I learn from this course back to Maui in the effort to be a better teacher for my students.
How to you feel about taking online classes?
I received by BA online from UH West Oahu this past December. In the beginning (two years ago), it was extremely difficult for me to just sit in front of the computer for half an hour or so due to my active lifestyle. Other times, I would fall asleep at the computer or while reading the required textbook for the course. Over time, I was able to manage my schedule and time to adapt to the demanding schedule of reading, doing research and writing numerous essays.
The bottom line is you must develop a system and discipline yourself to stay in front of the computer. I eventually was able to focus and will myself to be on the computer 2 to 3 hours with short breaks in between. As I mentioned, there's a lot of reading and research required, so time management is very important. I missed a lot of family functions, such as birthday parties, graduations, etc., however, the family was extremely supportive, especially my wife Norma.
I was computer literate, but not at the point of being an expert and navigating all over the internet to do research, write tons of papers/essays, and finding online resources. Further, I'm a very slow reader, so I had to learn to read faster. Nonetheless, once you get into a groove or a system, you'll get used to it and your mind and body adapts to the pace. Additionally, it's also really convenient to be able to carry your laptop when traveling; you can access the course 24/7, and don't miss classes and that is a big plus.
How to do you feel the COE has helped you in reaching your educational goals?
Everyone at the UH distance program--the staff as well as the professor--have all been very professional and caring. I can sense they really care about my success, as well as those of the other students. The students in the cohort have been a pleasure to work with during the Face-to-Face sessions. We all bring our very own unique talent, knowledge and ideas to the program, thus forming a team that will be able to help one another reach our goals.
I thank the COE from the bottom of my heart for presenting this opportunity to further our knowledge of the Special Needs with the hope that we will be able to truly open doors for them, as the COE have for us.
Fred Losano is a SPED teacher at Baldwin High School on the island of Maui and is currently studying to receive his Master's in Special Education through the College of Education's distance program. Besides college, and working, his plate is quite full. Since 1983, Fred has been coaching boys and girls Cross Country and Track and Field at Baldwin, instructs in TaeRunDo (a martial arts program he created in 2005) and is a part-time Youth Supervisor for the Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) Youthbank program, mentoring at-risk adolescents.