I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. My mom taught kindergarten, and for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to help out in her class. When I was in high school, I took a class where we got to go to our local elementary schools and teach them PE. I loved the class so much. I decided to take it three times. On my third time taking it, my teacher called me up to his desk and said he needed to ask me a question, that question changed my life. He reminded me that this was my third time taking the class and asked if I was interested in teaching PE to the special education class. I nervously said yes. I am ashamed to admit it, but up until that point, I had had little to no interaction with anyone who has special needs. Those kids changed my life, and I had no idea what I had been missing out on. I eventually went on to college and decided to go into occupational therapy since my mom had tried to talk me out of teaching. While I was in my third year of school, I was taking a class on the theory of autism. I got to work one on one with a little boy who had autism. While taking that class, I knew that occupational therapy was not for me and that my heart was with special education. I called my mom with my heart racing and let her know that with only one year left of school, I was changing my major. I worked my butt off the next year to get all my classes done and apply to a credential program. Special education has impacted not only my life, but my whole family and friends lives too. I truly am not passionate about many things, but I could go on and on about special education to anyone who listens to me. One of the biggest challenges that I have faced is trying to find a balance between my work life and separating it from my home life. I often wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for my class, I spend my weekends worrying about them, I'm constantly researching, and I am always thinking about if I am doing too much for them or not enough for them. This has left me drained and feeling empty, and I still struggle to find a balance between work and my life. Another struggle that I have is being a younger teacher with no kids. I struggle with putting my foot down and speaking my mind to administration, parents, service providers, paraprofessionals, etc. Lastly, my biggest challenge has been the lack of support and understanding from people who have zero experience with special education. My greatest take away from teaching special education has been the relationships that I've built with my students and their families. I often get from my friends and family why I text parents on the weekends, why I go out to dinner with families, or why I attend my student's birthday parties. The reality is these are the people that I am spending most of my time with, they have become a part of my life, and I love them. Teaching special education has surprised me in many ways, both good and bad. They irk every nerve in my body and push every single button I have, but nothing can compare to the belly laughs they give me or the tears I get in my eyes when I see them do something. My mom tried to convince me not to go into teaching; she also teaches special education now and could not be happier. 


Alexis Venegas

Moderate to Severe Education Specialist