In partnership with eSchool News, Illuminate Education is spotlighting teachers in a series recognizing educators, the way they have moved instruction online during COVID-19, and how they have prioritized the needs of their students.

Karina Tran
SDC K/1st-Moderate Severe Disabilities
Woodcrest Elementary School
Fullerton School District

“Don’t compare yourself to others, and just stay true to who you are as a teacher, and it will all fall into place.”

What motivated you to become a Special Education teacher?

When I was younger I didn’t know I wanted to even be a teacher, nonetheless a Special Ed teacher. It wasn’t until my brother, who has autism, joined the Special Olympics and I was helping him train. That experience gave me the opportunity to work with a lot of other people who had different types of disabilities. I would get so emotional after every practice because I just loved them so much and that’s when I realized what I was meant to do.

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Before the schools closed, what did a typical day look like?

I was already having a pretty challenging year. Even though I had four aides in the class, two of them were designated 1:1. My other two aides were considered medical aides and were primarily there to help with the students who had more intense medical needs from the other three special education classes, not just mine. That left me with seven students who didn’t really have as much support, so I really had to plan out exactly how the day would go to help keep some structure. I wanted to make sure I maximized every opportunity for education.

About the Author:

This article is part of an ongoing Teacher Spotlight series that is created in partnership with Illuminate Education.