Exceptional Students and Elementary Education Alumnus
“Even now, my coordinator still meets with us and lets us vent, talk strategy, and bounce ideas off of each other. The support doesn't end after graduation.”
- BEd, Exceptional Students & Elementary Education
What is your current position?
I teach second grade special education inclusion at Mililani Uka Elementary School.
Describe your road to becoming a teacher.
It seems like my activities and early jobs all revolved around child care. I volunteered for summer camps and Sunday school. When I moved to Kaua‘i with my grandpa, I worked for the A+ program. From those experiences, I knew I wanted to work with kids.
How did you become interested in special education?
As soon as I graduated from high school, I began working from home for a company called Autism Speak and really enjoyed it. Originally, I was thinking about teaching high school with a focus on American history, but when I found out I couldn’t do special education at that level, I joined the ESEE program.
Why did you choose the ESEE program in particular?
I like that it was a dual program, so if for some reason special education didn’t work out, I would also be able to go the general education route.
What was the best part of the program for you?
The best part was going into all the different schools. The program gave us field experiences in schools with low socioeconomic populations, private schools, and everything in between. We experienced Hawaiian immersion schools and department of defense schools, and it wasn’t just go and observe. We got to take part. It broadened our horizons to see so many styles of teaching, types of resources, class sizes, and student demographics.
In what ways do you hope to make a difference in the field of education?
One kid at a time. I ask my kids, “What’s your end goal? Do you want to get an MP for math at the end of the quarter? How do you plan to achieve that goal?” I want to excite them, but be realistic about how I am going to get there. Baby steps, like progressing from a WB to DP. It’s the little victories. And then, we keep going from there.
How did the people and the program in the COE help you along your way?
The faculty was very understanding and willing to explain. If you didn’t get it during lecture, their availability was ridiculous. If you needed to sit down and conference with them, they were very straightforward. They set you up for success and laid everything out for you. You just had to put in the work. Even now, my coordinator still meets with us and lets us vent, talk strategy, and bounce ideas off of each other. The support doesn’t end after graduation.
What are your future plans?
I eventually want to get a master’s degree in special education. The BCBA is in the back of my mind, but right now I just want to perfect my craft as a special education teacher.
Anything else you would like to share?
Take notes. Keep all the resources they give you, and go in there with a blank slate. Soak it in like a sponge, and don’t be afraid to vent.