PBSPED Mild/Moderate K-6, 2020-2022 Cohort

Maricar Velasco

"I want to support students in finding their voices to express themselves and create an accepting environment where all students' strengths are seen and voices are heard."


Ewa Beach, HI


Special Education

Related Degrees

  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Special Education (PBSPED)

What and where will you be teaching?

Preschool Special Education Teacher at Kaimiloa Elementary School

Did you always know you wanted to become a teacher? Briefly describe your road to this career. 

I had been going back and forth between being a therapist (MFT- I was 6 credits away with this degree), and for some reason I had been getting pulled back to becoming a teacher, specifically a special education teacher. I worked as a skills trainer, Sub EA, PPT, PTT, and a long-term sub. I realized this is what for me when I worked as an Emergency Hire for a preschool sped class. It finally clicked that this is where I want to spend the rest of my career, to help and empower our young special children and to make a difference in their life. I believe that this is where we can start to build their self-worth, individuality, love of learning, and be who they are as an individual, and most of all learn how to advocate for themselves someday. Teach them now to love school and make them feel safe, it will eventually help them through the process of being independent someday.

How did you become interested in the special education field?

I became interested as a special education teacher after having an experience with my other older students’ fear and dislike of school. I had a conversation with some of the families, and they informed me that some of these children did not have a good experience during their preschool years. I became interested in believing that, by teaching sped preschool I can instill in these children the love of learning, that school is safe, and they can be who they want to be.

Why did you choose to pursue the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education?

I chose to pursue this program in hopes of giving back to my community and to help and empower each student who will ever walk into my classroom.

What was the best part of the program for you?

The best part of the program is the people that I met along the way, the resources that I was able to use, the friends I met, and most especially the knowledge that I learned from all of my professors, field supervisors, from my fellow teacher candidates, and my MUSE mentor.

As an emergency hire, how were you able to manage being in the program and working full-time as a teacher?

A lot of prayers, help from my school (Kaimiloa Elem), my family, and the COE MUSE mentor program.

How has the MUSE mentoring program supported you?

In a lot of ways. My muse mentor made sure that I attended classes, reminded me of due dates, meetings, and helped me with lesson planning, classroom management, IEP preparations, and even personal and emotional support (& so much more).

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

Yes, if they are single or don’t have other resources in income. I had to juggle being an emergency hire (that’s more than a full-time schedule, as a sped teacher), plus a full-time job, and school. The pay for an emergency hire is not that great – you have to do all of the required IEP, meetings, training, and EES like a regular teacher with less pay. I am grateful though, I learned a lot and have no regrets!

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

I have so many people that I owe my success in this program, from a simple email of just asking how to access laulima, to a phone call to my muse mentor to just cry and vent, and to all of our wonderful professors and field supervisors who are so knowledgeable and supportive of our busy life outside of school. They are there to support and answer emails, text in a very adequate time, reach out, and make sure that we have the answers to any questions that I asked or needed help with.

What words of advice or recommendations would you give to someone who is interested in this program?

My advice is to be ready for the up and down of juggling family, social, work, and student life. You have to learn how to ask for help, and always be truthful to yourself and your profession. You need to also be able to manage your time accordingly, prioritize, and most of all invest in SELF-CARE.

What are your future plans?

My future plan is to really dive in and learn more about teaching preschool-aged children, pursue my master’s in education (sped-mild/moderate), and advocate for each of our special friends.

Anything else you would like to share?

My sincerest THANK YOU to all! Thank you for keeping me grounded and never stopping believing in me when there were times I was ready to quit (3x in fact). To trying to make this program more manageable and helping me, as well as others, to pursue our dreams to become a TEACHER. From Janet Kim, Dr. Oshita, Dr. Knox, all of our professors, and of course I would not have been able to survive without my amazing MUSE mentor, Nancy Gorman. Oh my, she had it hard with me, my never-ending crying, and I love her, she was tough but truthful. She made me open up and believe in myself. I have grown so much, she made me believe I can when I was not able to speak up for myself and to stand by what I believe in. Also, having a great school coach and mentor (DOE level helps a lot as well). A lot to be thankful for!

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