PBSPED Mild/Moderate, 2015-2017 Cohort

Rachel Bell

“I am an advocate for early intervention when it comes to children who need special education because I really believe helping them as early as possible can make the biggest difference in their school careers and beyond.”


Waimea, HI


Special Education

Related Degrees

  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Special Education (PBSPED)

Where do you work?
I currently teach special education preschool at Waikoloa Elementary School.

How were you able to manage being in the program and working full time as a teacher?
It was definitely a very busy time in my life. I am a single mother and had two young kids at the time. Looking back, I am not really sure how I did it! Time management and efficiency were important. I was always doubling up my efforts. For example, I had to make lesson plans at work, so I would be thinking about which assignment this would fit into and plan ahead so I didn’t waste too much time reinventing the wheel.

How did the MUSE mentor and program support you?
It was wonderful to have a supportive person who understood my position and who was there to assist me without grading me.

Do you recommend the emergency hire route to others thinking about doing the program?
Yes absolutely. Like our students, we learn better by doing. I think everything I learned in the program solidified better for me because it wasn’t just in theory; it was theory and practice combined constantly. I think it is important to approach this program with a positive outlook and assume it will challenge you but also assume you will be successful if you so choose to be. The things I learned in the program are still with me.

Did you always know you wanted to become a teacher? Briefly describe your road to this career.
Yes, I wanted to be a teacher as a young child. After high school, I went to university and obtained a degree in psychology. I taught English overseas in S. Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. I returned to Canada, my country of origin, and opened a private preschool while obtaining my ECE. Once I moved to Hawai‘i, I filled in a long-term subbing position in the special education preschool, and that is when I began the post-bacc in mild/moderate SPED.

How did you become interested in special education in particular?
I had 15 years of experience teaching kindergarten and preschool before working in special education specifically. I realized my interest in special education when I began working in the SPED PreK in 2014 in Hawai‘i. I also began working alongside the literacy specialist in my previous school and working with struggling readers in kindergarten and first grade. These experiences were very rewarding for me as I was able to really help struggling students by offering them the individualized help they needed to become successful and appreciative of their school experience.

Why did you choose to pursue this program?
I heard about the program from a regional supervisor in the DOE while I was working as an emergency hire in special education.

What was the best part of the program for you?
The program was comprehensive and well organized. I also felt very supported in the program by my mentor, my professors, the COE administration, and my cohort. There were always people to turn to for guidance and support.

What advice or recommendations would you give to someone who is interested in this program?
If you enjoy teaching, this program will certainly deepen your understanding and confidence as a teacher.

In what ways do you hope to make a difference in the field of education?
I enjoy working with young children in PreK to first grades specifically. I am an advocate for early intervention when it comes to children who need special education because I really believe helping them as early as possible can make the biggest difference in their school careers and beyond.

How did the people and the program in the COE help you along your way to becoming a teacher?
I felt very encouraged by the people in the COE program. I felt their approach was a positive one, and they were interested in helping candidates become great teachers. There was a good balance of support while ensuring the teacher candidates did the necessary hard work themselves in order to grow and learn. It was not an easy program, but well worth the effort. The more you put into this program, the more you will get out of it, and I got a lot out of the program.

What are your future plans?
I plan to keep teaching!

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

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