Kailina Lewis, Post Baccalaureate Certificate Special Education

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Kailina Lewis
“It was pivotal that I could work and go to school, and this program made that a reality.”
Hometown:

Hilo

Department:

Special Education

Degree:

PBC in Special Education: Mild/Moderate

How were you able to manage being in the program and working full time as a teacher?
The learning and my duties as a teacher were related, so that it made it a great relationship. Although it took many hours of planning and organization, I was committed enough to make it happen.

How has the MUSE (Mentoring Unique Special Educators) mentor and program supported you?
My MUSE mentor was there for me at any time of the day or night. He was very supportive as a soundboard for me to work through some challenges – both professional and personal – and he gave me perspective that helped me plan my next steps.

Do you recommend the emergency hire route to others thinking about doing the program?
I would only recommend being an emergency hire for those who have been in teaching capacities before. If not, I could foresee the position being overwhelming as there are many moving parts that have to be managed. This track is not for everyone, but for those that it can work for, it can be a true blessing.

Where are you currently teaching?
I am working at Pahoa Elementary School as the Special Education Department Head, teaching SPED grades two and three as well as case managing for kindergarten.

Did you always know you wanted to become a teacher? Briefly describe your road to this career.
Teaching was not my first choice as a career. I originally wanted to be a School Counselor, but life's path moved me into the classroom. After doing various positions and being employed elsewhere, I had my daughter and was asked to come back into the DOE. After teaching as a part-time resource teacher, I was encouraged to do a licensure track. I had always loved working within special education; therefore, it was fitting to do the Post-Bac Certificate in Special Education. Within my first year, I was asked to take on the position as Department Head in addition to teaching in the classroom. Every day is different, but my love and passion for the keiki continues to grow.

How did you become interested in special education in particular?
While shadowing the school counselors, I was hired as a substitute educational assistant. During that time, I learned quickly how to work with children with special needs. The positions within the DOE after that encompassed working within special education. I left the Department of Education for about a year and realized just how much I loved working there. No matter what, I will always have a soft spot for the umbrella of special education.

Why did you choose to pursue this program?
I chose the program because there was a teacher at our campus who highly recommended it as she was a recent graduate of the program.

What was the best part of the program for you?
The best part of the program was the mentor support that I received. There are a plethora of resources as well as funding to be able to make this a reality. It was pivotal that I could work and go to school, and this program made that a reality.

In what ways do you hope to make a difference in the field of education?
I hope that I will be able to change things for the better. There are always ways to improve our practice, systems, and approach, which in turn positively affect our children's educational journeys.

How did the people and the program in the COE help you along your way to becoming a teacher?
The people in the program helped to guide me through challenges, bridging the gap between the literature and the practice. They helped me see my strengths and weaknesses so that I knew where to improve in order to become a highly effective educator.

What are your future plans?
In the future, I hope to continue to make a change within the educational setting. I hope to have a major impact on the lives of the children I teach as well as the refinement of the systems we use to be efficient as well as effective. It is so important that we continue to reach for higher standards by providing the right supports in order to improve the educational journeys of our keiki.

Anything else you would like to share?
I would like to thank everyone in the program who has recommended me for various things and continue to support me after I've graduated. Everyone has always believed in me way more than I would ever expect, and I look forward to continuing to have a partnership with the COE for future years to come.