Elena never doubted her desire to work with kids with special needs. When she isn’t studying, she enjoys playing the guitar and trumpet, canoeing, and spending time with friends.
Elena prepares for teaching special needs
At six years old, Elena found her calling. She and a girl with autism were playing outside when a young boy started throwing wood chips at her friend. Elena felt furious and stood up for her by punching him in the face.
“I was upset,” she said. “I had never been afraid of different things, so I couldn’t understand why he was being mean for no reason; so I slugged him.”
Elena said she’d never condone violence as a solution, but she is glad she realized her desire to advocate for children with disabilities.
In middle school, she joined Best Buddies, a program that pairs students with kids with special needs, which further enforced her desire to teach.
“People told me it’s important to be dedicated when working with special needs,” she said. “And since I found such a love for it, I felt it was my responsibility to help out with it.”
Now, in college, Elena focuses on preparing herself for her future career. She has endorsements in ESL, reading, and special education, and hopes to spend her Block II practicum in a special needs classroom. She also participates in other on-campus activities that balance her college experience.
“I look at college as the time to do things to round me out,” she said. “I’m going to work with kids with special needs for the rest of my life. Right now is about preparing me to do that.”
Although it’s not an education-driven activity, Elena plays trumpet for various campus organizations. She enjoys it, but she also believes music will play a role in her future career.
“I want to incorporate music into my classroom,” she said. “Regardless who you are as a person, we all understand music in some way. It’s powerful in communication, and I feel it’s a great way to help people see what they have in common.”
In the future, Elena doesn’t care about the location of her classroom. She simply wants to go where her skills can be utilized.
“I want to go where they really need special ed. instructors,” she said. “Somewhere they need creative and innovative teachers. I’m up for a challenge.”