PBSPED Severe/Autism, 2018-2020 Cohort

Joseph Menor Jr

“I would recommend the emergency hire route to others in the program if you are organized, manage time wisely, are proactive, and are able to ask for help when you need it.“


Honolulu, O‘ahu


Special Education

How were you able to manage being in the program while working full time as a teacher?
Being a full-time emergency hire while being in the program is not for everyone. Time management is one of the key factors. In the past, I had a full-time job while going for a Master’s degree, which I learned time management was one of the key factors. School work and job duties have deadlines; pre-plan months in advance and do not wait until the last minute and it’s okay to be ahead since last minute scenarios can arise. My first year as an emergency hire, I was not taking any classes so I became familiar with all the different job duties and tasks while not taking classes. Honestly, if I was a first-year emergency hire while taking classes, I might have quit (either quit being a student or quit being an emergency-hire) because “on the fly” job training with little time to get adjusted while having IEP meetings, writing IEP documents while showing how the student was doing in my first month was very arduous. My first-year as an emergency hire, I asked many questions to other SpEd teachers, District Resource Teachers and a mentor the Principal hired for me. Any first-year teacher will see the many strenuous tasks and SpEd teachers will be learning different systems (eCSSS, Infinite Campus, Jupiter) while learning how to write many documents (Prior Written Notice, Individualized Education Program, progress reports, Evaluation Summary Report, Summary of Performance and other documents), while teaching meaningful lessons (individually, small group, or whole class) and keeping a good communication amongst parents/guardians, administrators and support services. Another helpful way to manage being in the program is being able to have someone to talk to (another friend, teacher, colleagues, mentor, etc.) that you could vent to, but also take time for yourself (leisure activities, time for rest, time to rejuvenate and other hobbies) in order to keep that good mental health.

How did the MUSE mentor and program support you?
The MUSE mentor and program supported me with having great feedback about how I was doing as a teacher (whether writing documents, getting exemplars or examples to do a better lesson, writing a better plan or document) as well as having an outlet to ask questions, vent, while receiving support.

Do you recommend the emergency hire route to others thinking about doing the program?

I would recommend the emergency hire route to others in the program if you are organized, manage time wisely, are proactive, and are able to ask for help when you need it.

What and where do you teach?
I am currently teaching at Moanalua High School.

Did you always know you wanted to become a teacher? Briefly describe your road to this career.
When I was young, I always thought about becoming a teacher. I was a tutor in high school helping students in subjects like algebra 1 and 2, geometry, trigonometry, analytical geometry, Japanese, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. It was always a joy to see students get that lightbulb or “ah-ha” moment when they achieved the lesson or completed their assignment or did well on a quiz or exam. When I went to college and explored different fields, I earned my BA in Biology. During my undergraduate experience, I did a semester of Teaching Internship for a biology course, which I enjoyed teaching students. I worked for the Department of Biology as an academic support, obtained a M.Ed. then later became a paraprofessional who worked with students with special needs and realized I wanted to pursue becoming a SpEd teacher.

How did you become interested in special education in particular?
I would say first in college I saw and worked with a few students with special needs that needed extra time, or a different explanation in the subject and it taught me how to teach differently, be patient, and be creative. I became more interested when I saw my friend as a paraprofessional working in the HIDOE that I pursued to go into that field, which worked with individuals with special needs. Being a paraprofessional for about 2.5 years led me to become more interested in special education, which I became a SpEd teacher.

Why did you choose to pursue this program in particular?
Being born and raised in Hawaii, the number 1 (flagship) school to go for in-state was UH Manoa. Researching about the program having blended in-person and online classes was a lure especially having classes after work. I am a proud UH Manoa alumnus, which I obtained my BA and M.Ed. degrees in 2005 and 2010. Choosing UH Manoa again for a post-baccalaureate certificate was not a hard decision, the many responses and great communication from the Special Education Recruitment Specialist was very helpful (other programs I talked to never followed up or I had to find other means to communicate) and the icing on the cake was the stipend.

What was the best part of the program for you?
The best part of the program was knowledgeable faculty (instructors, MUSE mentors, recruitment specialist and advisor) that challenged the students and guided us to become exceptional SpEd teachers in the state of Hawaii. In addition, I found my classmates to be very friendly, supportive, encouraging, and eager to help, which other programs may not have.

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 education by encouraging students to reach their potential by focusing on student outcomes. Clear goals, careful planning, and a lot of communication can help pave the way for different interventions, implementing best practices, while providing effective programs.

How did the people and the program in the COE help you along your way to becoming a teacher?

First, the encouragement from all the faculty, staff, and students helped along the journey from being a student as well as an emergency-hire teacher to then becoming a certified special education teacher. The many lesson plans that we wrote will help teachers scaffold, think of differentiation, and how we communicate during the lessons. Assessing the data on how we teach future lessons helped for being ready for what we teach and gives a plan for a substitute teacher. The COE faculty (instructors and MUSE mentors) gave many resources on different evidence-based teaching strategies to foster student growth, improve students to become independent, as well as getting students engaged during the lessons.

What are your future plans?
As of now, the immediate future (3-5 years) plan is to continue being a Special Education teacher. In the next five to ten years, I could become a Department Head and later become a Vice Principal or a faculty at the university.

I'm interested in learning more about a degree or certificate in Special Education.

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