Since the arrival of Dr. Elizabeth Cutrer-Parraga (known as Beth to her students) to BYU, the Special Education program gained some Southern flare! Born and raised in Florida, former rodeo queen Beth has an exciting, well-versed background that any McKay School student should hear about.
Although Beth teaches only in the Counseling Psychology and Special Education (CPSE) department, she has experience in a variety of educational settings. She taught special education at the K-6 level, 1st grade and Kindergarten as a general education teacher, and 3 years abroad in Asia as a general education Kindergarten teacher in an American school. Beth also spent some time at the high school level in a resource room, English 9 class, and History and Government classes. She said that her "favorite course [she] taught at the high school level was in English 9 for dually diagnosed individuals with a specific learning disability and gifted." In addition to all of this time as a teacher, she served for five years as the Student Support Team Chair in an RTI/MTSS (Response to Intervention/Multi-Tiered System of Supports) capacity.
So, you might be wondering what type of education you would need to do all of the amazing things that Beth has done! Well, a special education degree at BYU is a great place to start. Beth has a BS degree in special education with an emphasis on specific learning disabilities and reading, giving her a certification to teach K-12 (just like our program!). She also continued her education by receiving a Master's degree in elementary education, getting certified as a reading specialist, and receiving her PhD with an emphasis in literacy, special education, and early intervention.
Along with all of these educational accomplishments, Beth takes pride in being a wife and mother. When asked what outstanding achievements she has that she is proud of, she said that she is "most proud of being a mother and a wife." Some other accomplishments she highlighted were the times she spent as a literacy coach. She found great joy in seeing her students succeed.
"Other outstanding achievements for me have been when students I worked with as a teacher in the trenches learned how to read... it has been profoundly satisfying to teach pre-service and in-service teachers how to teach students vulnerable for reading failure to learn how to read."
The advice that she gives to someone who might be considering a major/career in special education is to "take time to volunteer with students who are ability diverse." In this way, the person could start to understand whether or not they really want to go into special education. Also, the person could determine which types of students under the special education umbrella they would be interested in."
In addition to teaching and helping others, Beth loves the water, whether that is at the beach or a state park where she can paddle board. Just like many of the students here at BYU, she enjoys "hiking, swimming, biking, latin and country dancing, good music, gardening, crafts, theater, lectures, pastels and water colors and just curling up with a good book. And anywhere and anything where [she] can spend time with [her] Husband."
Some people doubt whether or not it is possible to be an accomplished educator and a mother, but Beth shows that is a possibility. She shared the following:
"I have had multiple spiritual experiences where I came to know that my education could provide information and knowledge that would help me serve the Lord and His little ones more fully."
BYU has truly been blessed by the presence of Beth Cutrer and we look forward to keeping her around as long as possible!