Wendy Gonzales, teacher at Orozco Academy in Chicago, has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in special education. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in special education, Gonzales offers some insight into how an advanced degree, and additional specialization can help further a career in education.

(Photo Courtesy of Wendy Gonzales)

(Photo Courtesy of Wendy Gonzales)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Better screening and identification of various disabilities in children are expected to increase the demand for special education services. In addition, children with disabilities are being identified earlier and enrolled into special education programs, increasing the need for special education teachers in preschool and kindergarten grades.” For those considering the education field, concentrating on a special education degree can help open career opportunities.

How does your experience in formal education relate to your current role?

“I draw heavily from my special education background. I learned how to modify my lessons and assignments to meet the individual needs of my students. In a general education classroom it’s not called modification, it’s called differentiated instruction, but the goal is the same: meet the needs of individual students.  My education, especially in special education, has helped shaped my philosophy of teaching and learning in that I believe that all students can be successful if they are given the proper support.”

How has your education helped to further your career?

“I feel that my education and multiple certifications have made me more marketable. I feel that I have been able to be successful as a classroom teacher because I can meet the diverse needs of my students. My education has given me the tools to problem solve and reflect on my teaching in order to effectively reach the students sitting in front of me. Also, I am currently working on a Ph.D. in Special Education which will allow me to teach future special education teachers.”

What advice can you offer others considering the education field?

“You have to have a passion for what you do because it is a very challenging field, and you should consider getting multiple certifications to make you a more well-rounded teacher.”

Sara Lugardo is a professional writer out of Chicago, Illinois. She has a bachelor’s in communication and is currently working on her master’s. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.