Appreciation for Special Education

Department members find fulfillment by helping students learn life skills


Graciela Martinez

Helping a special needs student, special education teacher Tamara Wiltz explains a Christmas craft project.

As he sees a gleaming smile and pure joy appear on the student’s face, he is reminded of why he does what he does. The school’s special education teachers work to see happiness in their students.
There are more than 40 members in the special education department.
“I feed the students and [help them] with their different academic goals,” special education paraprofessional Shane Lostumbo said. “I also take care of the kids’ needs and do physical therapy work with them.”
There is no normal routine or schedule for special education teachers and the students they work with.
“Every day changes,” Lostumbo said. “[The day] normally involves getting the kids off the bus and getting their breakfast. Then we’ll transition into class and help [the students] with skills and assignments. I’ll do physical therapy work with some of the students, and then afterwards I’ll help teach basic needs and skills, such as washing clothes.”
Working with special education kids is an extremely fulfilling and rewarding job, according to special education assistant Kathy Manus.
“It is most rewarding when they do something little,” Manus said. “When [the kids] make advances, it makes me happy.”
According to senior Hope Churchill, the special education teachers have played a big role in inspiring her to become a special education teacher after finishing college.
“The special education teachers at the school love what they do, and they have fun doing it,” Churchill said. “Seeing that every day is what is so inspiring.”
When the students show improvement and show progress in the skills they are taught, it is a wonderful thing with all the hard work they put into learning the skill, according to Manus.
“I do what I do, because I love the kids,” Manus said. “I think my job is just so rewarding, and that is all I can say about that. We do it because we love it.”