Exceptional Students and Elementary Education Program Graduate

Maya Shishido

“There are so many possibilities in the world of education… what a wonderful world it is with so many doors.”


Kāne‘ohe, Hawai‘i


Special Education

Related Degrees

  • BEd, Exceptional Students & Elementary Education

Where do you work?
I am currently teaching kindergarten and first grade special education at Ben Parker Elementary in Kāne‘ohe.

Did you always know you wanted to become a teacher?
I did not always want to become a teacher. In fact, it was the one career I knew I would not choose because of all the work I watched my mom and aunty do as teachers. I fell in love with the world of disabilities the summer after high school when I became a Special Olympics coach. The teaching path happened because of my interest in kids with disabilities.

How did you become interested in special education?
When I spent time in classrooms, I found that I gravitated toward students who struggled in school. The kids who I thought were the most fun to work with were the ones with disabilities. As I became more familiar with the world of special education, I saw so much meaning in what special educators were doing. The job was about much more than academics.

Why did you choose to pursue the ESEE program?
Lysandra Cook came to one of my classes to talk about a new and exciting merged program. My best friend was in the class with me, and I told her this sounds so perfect for me. She encouraged me to go for it and I did.

What was the best part of the ESEE program?
The best part of the program for me was the people I met and the students I worked with. I connected with many amazing people who I still keep in touch with today. One of my favorite parts, in particular, was tutoring a first grade student at Pearl Ridge Elementary who was at risk for reading failure. His mom told me that after 8 weeks of tutoring, her child said that he was the best reader in his class. That was a very rewarding thing to hear.

In what ways do you hope to make a difference in the field of education?
I think that the field of education right now has many difficulties. There are many challenges like funding and lawsuits due to inadequate resources and a lack of trained personnel. There seems to be an overwhelming sense of frustration. My hope is to be is a positive light. I believe that if you do right and you think good thoughts, things will work out. I really liked what Cat Wailehua would say, “Keep bringing the problems, and we’ll keep on solving them.” I want to make a difference in the field of education by spreading a little bit of that positive attitude around.

Did anyone/anything in particular help you along your way to becoming a teacher?
The people and the program in the COE helped in so many ways that I don’t know where to begin! I am so grateful to everyone in the COE who supported me throughout the program and in teaching after the program. I’m also very grateful to my cohort. Everyone gave me emotional and professional support. My cohort coordinators and teachers provided us with so many opportunities to learn and grow. I had such a great two years. Even a year and a half out of the program, I still feel like the COE is there to help and support me in being a teacher.

What are your future plans?
There are so many paths to choose from, I don’t know what my future plans are! I could stay in my position as a special education resource teacher, but I think it would be interesting to become specialized. I’ve been taking classes that focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder, and I find it just fascinating!  I’m also becoming Orton Gillingham certified, which I think is a lot of fun. I’ve heard that there is a law moving across the nation to recognize dyslexia as a disability in the DOE.  I think that would open up a lot of possibilities for that field.  But, I’m also thinking about getting a degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. Obviously, what I’ve found is that becoming a teacher is not an end decision. There are so many possibilities in the world of education and if you’re interested in education, what a wonderful world it is with so many doors.

Anything else you would like to share?
Thank you, everyone in the COE, for the career that I have and the experiences that I’ll always hold dear. I am so happy with the road I’m on.

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