In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we sat down with Marcella Lozano, Special Education RISE Teacher from IDEA Walzem College Preparatory, to discuss her role as an educator at IDEA Public Schools, her amazing students, and her future aspirations.
Please tell us about yourself.
I have been a RISE teacher with IDEA for the past seven years, first at IDEA San Juan in the Rio Grande Valley and now at IDEA Walzem here in San Antonio. I have two kids, and they both attend IDEA! One is a 5th grader and the other is a 10th grader.
What is something impactful you have done as an IDEA educator?
In the 18+ program at IDEA San Juan, we have taken our students to volunteer to work on job-coaching skills. For me, that work has been the most impactful.
Here in San Antonio, the most impactful thing I feel I have done was start our Special Olympics team here at Walzem. We participated in Special Olympics bowling, basketball, and unified basketball. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, we were unable to participate in soccer, unified soccer, track and unified track. Special Olympics is one of my most favorite activities to include our students in. They build skills in learning new fundamentals, social skills, teamwork, and how to advocate for themselves.
What is one thing you enjoy when working with students in the RISE Program at IDEA?
I love working in this community. You can see and feel the joy that my students bring, and they all have great character. They are intelligent, funny, loving, and they live in the moment. Every day is a great day.
What advice can you give teachers who work in special education or general education who are new to the autism world?
Learn about your students. Learn what they like, what works for them, what gives them joy, but also push them to be better. They are very smart. They can learn anything if given the right tools.
What autism family resources do you believe are beneficial for parents?
I tell parents and guardians: add your children to wait-list services, such as Texas Workforce. These programs can help with college and job coaching.
What are your future goals as an educator?
I love working as a RISE teacher, but I also love to support educators and provide guidance, so in the future, I will be looking into diagnostician programs or applied behavior analysis. For now, I am so happy to be a RISE teacher in the classroom!
During Autism Awareness Month, and every day, we want to thank our special education and RISE teachers, licensed specialists in school psychology, diagnosticians and all service providers for all they do to support our scholars!
Did you know…
In 2020, IDEA was one of ten school districts in Texas to be awarded an autism grant for one million dollars that supports student success and provides resources for qualifying RISE classroom scholars to achieve the highest quality education possible! Our Autism Grant team is working very closely with teachers and staff to provide support and guidance to meet student needs.