PBSPED Mild/Moderate, 2015-2017 Cohort
"As an emergency hire for the Hawai‘i Department of Education, I am so grateful for the support I have received from the college’s MUSE mentoring program."
- Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Special Education (PBSPED)
Describe your road to becoming a teacher.
My first major in college was accounting, then I explored communications. In my second year, I became pregnant and, at the insistence of many, changed my major to early childhood education. That lasted one semester. However, once my children were in school, I enrolled in the Hawai‘i substitute teaching course. A few weeks later, I nervously accepted my first teaching job and loved it!
How did you become interested in special education in particular?
As I became more comfortable in the classroom, I began to accept longer-term vacancies in a variety of grade levels and learning environments. Eventually, it was obvious that the next logical step was to enroll in a teacher licensure program. I knew two things for certain: I wanted to teach in the secondary environment, and I wanted to teach students with learning disabilities. For the past year and a half, I’ve been in the classroom full time, and I am captivated by and drawn to students with autism spectrum disorder.
Why did you choose to pursue this program?
The past three semesters in the post-baccalaureate certificate program in special education have been an incredibly rewarding experience. The support of the people in this program was evident from the very beginning. Also, the stipend and experiences in the classroom made this a very attractive entry into the classroom.
What has been the best part of the program experience so far?
As I’ve witnessed the academic environment around me, I’ve come to see the learning process from a student’s perspective as well as my own. Working with students with disabilities has allowed me to see the evolution of learning and the challenges of scaffolding the Common Core State Standards and lesson objectives in a way that make them attainable for all. As I’ve watched my students progress, I’ve enjoyed their growth as learners as much as they have.
In what ways do you hope to make a difference in the field of education?
Through intentional planning and the use of technology, I have found that my students with learning disabilities are not the only ones who benefit from the accommodations and modifications made within the classroom. I hope to continue to use these evidence-based strategies and the Universal Design for Learning to help my students discover a lifetime love of learning. As a secondary special education teacher, I also want to focus more on the transitional aspects of a high school education for my diploma track students.
How are the people and the program in the COE helping you along your way?
As an emergency hire for the Hawai‘i Department of Education, I am so grateful for the support I have received from the college’s MUSE mentoring program. It has been a sanity saver. The quality of the education I have received and the commitment of the professors in the program have instilled not only knowledge, but a sense of confidence in myself as an educator. I am particularly thankful for Aileen Soma’s friendship and guidance. Also, if not for Janet Kim, I would not have had the courage to apply.
What are your post-program plans?
As I earn my Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, I am able to witness several of my projects expand and evolve as my understanding of literature, the writing process, and teaching students with disabilities continues to grow. I’ve decided to pursue my master’s in special education so that I can continue to hone my teaching skills as well as open doors in post-secondary education. I have enjoyed the research process as I’ve created lesson plans and course assignments that integrate evidence-based strategies and can envision a future that includes grant writing and, perhaps, working in the private sector. I know that with my master’s degree I will not only continue to learn and grow as an educator, but I will also continue to impact my students’ lives, both in and outside of the classroom.