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  • Writer's pictureEmily Reed

How to "Get Ahead" in Special Education

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Just as we have done for Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Physical Education Teaching/Coaching, we want to tell you how you can "get ahead" in your special

education major! However, special education is much different in the sense that "getting ahead" does not involve taking additional classes.

The program directors of BYU's Special Education major encourage you to take the three required prerequisites for the program, but not take any additional courses in the program until you are officially accepted. So... how can you get ahead then? Through gaining experience! We want to share about 3 Special Education students and what they gained from volunteering before starting the program!

Paige Kesler

"During my junior year of high school, I started a club called 'Breaker Buddies' that included students with disabilities and dance. Each week we practiced a dance that we would later perform at the Winter and Spring Dance Show. The students chose the music, choreographed the dance, and chose the costumes, with help from myself and other students in the dance program. This club helped me ultimately decide that I wanted to be a special education teacher. Starting the club showed me how I can make a difference in a student’s day, even through something simple as dance. Being able to make a difference in someone’s why I want to be a special education teacher."

Michaela Swanson

"I did have some experiences (serving people with disabilities) on my mission... one of the people I was teaching was on the autism spectrum and had certain needs that made her rely on her family a lot...She was the sweetest soul and had the best outlook on the gospel. A challenge we faced while teaching her was that because she had struggles with understanding some social cues our members in the branch sometimes found her a little annoying. She never seemed to notice and as time went on the members really warmed up to her...The Lord helped her overcome challenges and I was able to witness that first hand. Meeting her was one of the best things that could have happened to me...She had a love for the gospel and for all those around her.

I don't know if I could ever call teaching her service because I feel like I was the one receiving the true blessings from God by meeting her. She was the one who made me realize that I love working with those who in the world's perspective may seem different, but in God's perspective are beloved children who have a lot to offer the world. Interacting with her and with the experiences of growing up with my brother made me realize how much I wanted to teach individuals with disabilities. I don't know if I could ever call it volunteer work, but instead, I want to call it the best experience of my life."

Jessica Hodges

"My experience working with Special Education students with both mild/ moderate and severe disabilities has molded me into the teacher that I want to become in the future. I have found my experience to be so rewarding but challenging; in a good way. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with these students every day during the school year and extended school year in the summer.  I would never have thought I would have been teaching in the future after leaving the medical field. The Lord directed me to a completely different direction than what I was used to. I am blessed to be where I am today, to continue with my education at BYU and graduate next year with my BA in Special Education emphasizing mild/moderate disabilities."

If you have any other questions about how you can better prepare to join the special education program (especially with class registration coming up), contact your adviser or meet with a student ambassador! We hope to hear from you soon.

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