PBSPED Severe/Autism, 2015-2017 and MEd SPED, BCBA-Track (2017-2019) Cohort
"I hope to make a difference in the field of special education by bringing awareness to the capabilities of each of my students. I want everyone at my school to know that students with special education services can lead successful and love-filled lives."
- Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Special Education (PBSPED)
- MEd, SPED: BCBA
PBSPED Severe/Autism, 2015-2017 Cohort; MEd SPED, BCBA-Track 2017-2019; SPEDucator Project Recipient
What and where are you currently teaching?
I am currently teaching a self-contained classroom for alternative academics, life, and work skills at Maui High School.
What does it mean to you to have been selected as part of the SPEDucator Project?
Being selected as a SPEDucator has reinvigorated my passion for SPED after five years of teaching. Having the opportunity to align myself with such outstanding individuals from all over the Hawaiian islands makes me feel acknowledged, and well, special. I belong to a group that understands and appreciates everything I do for my class. On top of finding a community, I’m also being given an opportunity to expand my professional development opportunities outside of my comfort zone. Being a SPEDucator gives me a greater sense of purpose and has made me recognize myself as an agent for change and acknowledgment of the many facets of special education.
How did you become interested in the special education field?
When I was a little girl, my favorite thing to play was being a teacher and giving my friends homework. In college, I was indecisive and chose a different path. Teaching was not my first choice of career after college.
After graduating with my bachelor’s, I became a skills trainer, and it led to my love of special education. Once I completed my first month with my student who had autism, I knew I wanted to be the one to teach students crucial life skills. It was a challenge but extremely rewarding.
Why did you choose to pursue the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education, Severe Disabilities and Autism track?
I chose to pursue the UH Mānoa Post Bac severe/autism program because I liked the flexibility of online and in-person classes as well as the opportunity to meet peers from across the islands. The best part of the program was the complete cooperation from UH Mānoa staff to work with my needs, schedule, and my unique position as a non-certificated teacher.
How were you able to manage being in the program while working full-time as an emergency hire teacher?
I had to plan things out for the entire semester. My planner was my best friend during my time in the program. If you can figure out how to put it all on your phone, it’ll make your life even easier. Your phone can remind you of all the things that need to get done ahead of time. Plan to miss out on many social activities, especially if you have a family.
How did the people in the COE help you along your way to becoming a teacher?
My peers at the COE gave me a community to reach out to when I needed clarification or just someone to vent to about all the complexities of being a special ed teacher. My MUSE mentors were especially helpful at making connections at my school, communicating with parents, and balancing work/home life.
Would you recommend being an emergency hire to others thinking of pursuing the program?
Working full-time as a teacher and being in the program provided me with real-life opportunities to practice the skills I was being taught in the program. I was able to trouble-shoot issues with my professors which is a type of resource you don’t typically have as a sped teacher.
What words of advice or recommendations would you give to someone who is interested in this program?
The program is rigorous and time-consuming. You will have to make sacrifices with your time outside of your regular job. The knowledge and expertise you gain from the various professors and mentors will provide you with everything you need to be successful in your first sped position.
In what ways do you hope to make a difference in the field of education?
I hope to make a difference in the field of special education by bringing awareness to the capabilities of each of my students. I want everyone at my school to know that students with special education services can lead successful and love-filled lives. I have done this by doing presentations at the school level to gen ed peers and gen ed teachers about students with disabilities and their accomplishments.