Special Education

Celebrating National Special Education Day

David Driscoll

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Credential

David Driscoll teaches middle school grade subjects in the Alternate Curriculum Education (ACE) department at California School for the Deaf in Riverside, known as CSDR in the Deaf Community. CSDR’s ACE program offers an alternate curriculum education and is a program that serves students from first grade through high school to 22-year-old adults who are deaf with additional learning challenges. His inspiration

to become deaf and hard of hearing teacher stems back to his early childhood when spinal meningitis left him with a profound hearing loss in the left ear and moderate/severe in the right ear at the age of two. He enrolled into the world-renowned John Tracy Clinic, an oral preschool for deaf children and their parents. “Upon my preschool graduation, my mother was offered a position in the classroom and made a 39-year career at John Tracy Clinic working in various capacities; she ultimately is my champion and inspiration in becoming a teacher.” 

David gets so much gratification getting to know his students and watching them succeed. David explains that much of their success starts early and at home. “I wish all my deaf students would receive proper support starting with an early intervention program that incorporates American Sign Language (ASL).  Additionally, I wish for my students to come from a home environment where ASL is fully accessible, and parents, siblings, and family continue learning ASL and what the Deaf Community has to offer.”   

David explains that special education incorporates an umbrella of specialized fields and that special education teachers are trained to teach students with specific learning needs. He concludes with this final thought, “I believe the main goal of special education is to ensure that students who have a disability can fully participate in education along with students without disabilities and can access the curriculum whenever and as much as possible. Ideally, all students would have equitable access to education to help facilitate in reaching their full potential.” 

 Kevin AceitunoKevin Aceituno

Early Childhood Special Education Credential

Kevin Aceituno always knew he wanted to work with kids. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Studies at CSU Channel Islands he started working at an early intervention agency and quickly became a lead teacher. He realized that there was still more to learn. Kevin applied to the ACT Residency program at CSUN where he was able to earn his Early Childhood Specialist Education Credential in one year. He is now teaching pre-school at Arminta Early Education Center while pursuing the M.A. in Special Education at CSUN. Kevin is a Bridge Scholar recipient which allows him to participate in interdisciplinary trainings to work collaboratively with behavioral interventionists to address the intensive needs of young children with disabilities and their families.

The opportunity to engage with students and to interact with them at their age level are things that Kevin enjoys the most. He explains that he wants to be the person that understands them,  “I want them to just be a kid, I strive to help them build their self-esteem and challenge them so that they can grow. They say the most interesting things that blow you away.” Kevin wants his students to look at life as a journey and as an opportunity, and are not limited to what society wants them to be. “They can do anything that they feel comfortable and confident doing. There are no limits, only endless possibilities to who they can become. Even as the child grows up, their disability does not define their identity.”  

Kevin wants the public to know that special education is unique and that not every child thinks and acts the same. Special education is a different way of incorporating strategies and teachings for all individuals and is not limited to individuals with an intellectual or physical disability. Kevin goes on to say, “Special education requires a lot of patience and understanding but if you are truly passionate about it, being a special educator will come naturally to you.”  

Patricia Boyd

Patricia Boyd

Mild-Moderate Disabilities Credential

Patricia Boyd is a veteran teacher. She taught science at a middle and high school in Inglewood. Her school started getting an influx of students with IEPs but her school site did not have an education specialist on campus. Patricia had an important skill, she knew how to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of each student and students were succeeding in her classes because of her persistence and dedication. After a couple of years of teaching students with IEPs Patricia realized that if students have the support they need and if they have teachers who support them they can do really well and succeed. She made a decision to pursue an Education Specialist Credential in Mild-moderate Disabilities through the one-year ACT Residency program and is currently enrolled in the Education Therapy Post-M.A. program at CSUN.  

Patricia tries to learn as much as she can from each student and focuses on tapping into their strengths and interests to motivate them to learn. She explains that each student has a unique talent and she uses their skill set to help them be successful. “I want students to believe in themselves, their unique talents, their strength base, I want them to feel confident that they can contribute their gifts to society and make the world a better place.” She goes on to say that she hopes her students are lifelong learners.  

What Patricia loves most about teaching is when her students smile when they are learning, especially the ones that are withdrawn, to see them self-advocating, to see the aha moment when they understand something. Her final thought is that “special education is necessary to unlock the many gifts and talents of our students, enabling them to reach their full academic potential.” 

 Lissete BossLisette Boss

Moderate-Severe Disabilities Credential

Lisette Boss is a special education teacher serving 5th and 6th grade learners with extensive support needs at Emblem Academy in Santa Clarita. She started as a para-professional in special education and had no idea how much she would enjoy it. She decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology at CSUN and transitioned right away into the Traditional Education Specialist Credential program at CSUN. Currently, Lisette is completing coursework toward a Master of Arts degree while simultaneously completing her Clear Credential in Moderate-Severe disabilities.

Lisette finds joy when she discovers hidden potential in her students. “My favorite thing is when the light bulb goes on for them, when they finally understand something, their whole face lights up. They are proud of themselves and their pride gives me pride.” Lisette reflects on her high school algebra teacher, Mr. Judson. She remembers Mr. Judson being the nicest person and how he made connections with students on both the academic and emotional level. She remembers how she hated math but that he made it understandable for her. Lisette incorporates Mr. Judson’s teaching style of connection and understanding to her own teaching style.  

 Lisette wants the public to understand that everyone has the ability to learn, it just takes some a little longer. She wishes for all her students to have acceptance, inclusion, meaningful relationships, and independence and for people to understand them. Lisette’s final thought is “Special education is not about being patient. Special education is about persistence and perseverance. I have to be persistent and the students have to persevere.”