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First year SSAISD teacher extends a special helping hand

Teresa Lopez always thought she wanted to be a nurse, but that plan changed after she graduated from high school.

“Once I got to college, that’s when I started realizing how important teachers were and how important I would be as a teacher,” Lopez said.

You won’t find the Kazen Middle School Special Education teacher in front of the class teaching her students. Her approach is a little more entrenched.

“I’m helping the [main] teacher figure ways to teach the content in a more understandable way,” said Lopez. “I walk around and make sure everyone is on the same page.”

This first-year teacher is no stranger to the classroom. She did her student teaching at elementary, middle and high school levels, along with a couple of years of substitute teaching.

It isn’t just the content within the textbooks Lopez aims to teach. She’s there to tackle obstacles that make it difficult for a student to learn.

“It can be severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder that affects their learning and comprehension, or emotional, physical and mental disability,” Lopez said. “It’s an everyday challenge for them.”

Lopez gives them stress balls and takes them outside of the classroom to do breathing exercises when they are overwhelmed from events that may have happened before they even got to school.

“I’m not just a special ed teacher, I’m another person they can come to,” said Lopez.

Lopez packs a lot of patience to help each student. One area that’s always a challenge is reading, which is the center of all learning. She recalls being in an eighth grade class where a student was having trouble reading and summarizing the story.

“A lot of times it’s just taking them away from their friends and the whole social aspect of it and focusing on what they need to do,” she added. “Once they get it, they feel so much better about themselves.”

With this established student rapport, Lopez says she feels the rewards of her job each day when a student is able to learn. 

“It’s the day-by-day things, getting to class, actually sitting through it without having a fit or tantrum,” Lopez said. “Those are the little things that make my job fun.”