By Jonny Ammerman & Shelby Moring
Special education is a program at Bonita Vista High School that is valued very much by those who work with the students. They do it not because they have to, but because it’s something that they enjoy doing.
“The kids are really sweet and they make me laugh and they make me really happy,” said Special Education teacher Rosa Ovalle.
Ovalle took the position as a teacher in the moderate and moderate/severe program to replace the former teacher, Mr. Schonoff. She came to Bonita Vista High as a health care assistant at the beginning of 2012. Ovalle isn’t alone in working with the students as she works with other staff members.
“I’d be lost without them, and the support from other moderate/severe teachers,” said Ovalle.
Lisa Acosta is another teacher in the program who works with the students in the Moderate program.
“These are students not on the graduation track,” said Acosta. “They need the academics.”
Everybody working with the Special Education students strive to give them the best experience in high school that they can get.
The kids follow a loose schedule, not exactly the same as any other student here, but they are in school to accomplish what any other student here wants to accomplish. That is to complete high school with the proper skills in order to be associated with real world situations.
“I realize that these students want the same thing as everybody else,” said Acosta. “They want to be independent, they want to have friends, they want to have jobs, and they want to get married some day.”
Both Acosta and Ovalle agree that it is important to teach the kids social skills so that they are not alone and they have people who they can talk to. They also believe that it is important for them to have a place where they can learn at their own level.
Acosta enjoys working with the students’ challenges and says that they all have gifts. This is what makes her happy to come to school every day and help work with each and every student.
During school, the students do a variety of activities, whether they are done on campus or off campus. In the fun environment of their classroom, they do a lot of things involving arts and crafts. For example, on Thanksgiving, they crafted turkeys and sent them to troops in Afghanistan. This is the kind of stuff they do especially when different holidays come around. The students are not limited to on-campus events.
“During school hours, we go outside of school,” Ovalle said. “We do a lot of stuff outside of the classroom.”
Some such things include simply going out for food across the street during lunchtime.
To someone who does not work with these students on a daily basis, this job may seem to be quite a challenging one and probably harder than the average school job. The challenges that the staff mainly face are in teaching the students. To Acosta, what’s most challenging about her job is making sure that what the students are learning is meaningful to them. She knows she is doing her job when the kids are learning to the best of their ability.
All the staff working in the special education program looks forward to every day that they get to spend helping the students. All the love and care they have for their students is shown in everything they do for them. The students show their appreciation for the teachers in every way they can.
“The kids are always excited to see me in the morning,” said Acosta.
Every morning, at 8:15, they arrive on their buses, with big smiles, always happy to be at Bonita Vista High School where they can socialize with their peers in the classroom and around the halls. Not only that, but they have teachers who care about their education and care about making them feel happy and that they belong.
The teachers get a sense of accomplishment while doing their job, educating the special needs students. Just like all other students at Bonita Vista, they get the skills they need to succeed in the real world and become part of the social experience that everybody else is a part of.
Ovalle loves everything about her job as a teacher in the moderate and moderate/severe program but there is one thing that stands out the most to her.
“I like when I teach them something new. It’s a good feeling,” she said. “It can be chaotic but it’s fun.”