Denise Gallagher, Special Education MEd Alumna

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Denise Gallagher
“I heard about the Literacy Specialist Program and knew it would help me do right by ALL my students.”
Hometown:

Honolulu, Hawai‛i

Department:

SPED

Degree:

BEd in Elem and SPED, MEd in SPED

Where do you currently work?
I am a Diverse Learner Needs Teacher at the University Laboratory School.

How did you become interested in special education?
My older sister was diagnosed with autism as an adult around the same time I took American Sign Language at Kapi‛olani Community College. I was curious about why my sister was the way she was, and I was inspired by my amazing teacher, Crissy Holmes. I started the dual preparation program at UH Mānoa, and the more I learned about teaching students with disabilities, the more I loved it.

Why did you choose to pursue the SPED Literacy Specialist program?
In my first few years of teaching, there were a few students who weren’t responding to intervention. Despite having average or above average intelligence, they were not improving in reading no matter how much tutoring and extra help I gave them. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I heard about the Literacy Specialist Program and knew it would help me do right by ALL my students.

What was the best part of the program for you?
Meeting other people who are as psyched about special education as I am!

In what ways do you hope to make a difference using the knowledge you have gained?
In the Literacy Specialist program, I learned about locating and implementing evidence-based practices, how to assess students properly in order to inform my instruction, and how to progress monitor so I don’t waste precious time on interventions that aren’t working. I use my new knowledge every day as I work with my students, and it’s been empowering.

How did the people and the program in the COE help you along your way to becoming a teacher?
The COE, my professors, and cohort members taught me almost everything I know about being a teacher. The people at COE lead by example. Some of the best teachers I’ve ever had were my professors from the COE.

What are your future plans?
I plan to teach special education in Hawai‛i forever!