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Custodian earned master's degree while working at elementary school

Friday, August 14, 2015
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Custodian earned master's degree while working at elementary school
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In an uplifting tale that sounds like it came from a movie, one recent graduate hopes to transition from custodian to teacher at an elementary school in California. According to GCU Today, the news outlet for Grand Canyon University in Arizona, Zenon Castro is close to making his lifelong dream a reality upon receiving his master's degree in special education earlier this year.

"Castro always had ambitions of helping people."

Transitioning the roles
Castro always had ambitions of helping people with disabilities, noted the source. His disabled older brother passed away when he was young, and that led him to create a goal for himself. He studied hard to earn a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from California State University, San Bernardino. From there, he began taking online classes as part of the GCU master's degree program in special education. The flexibility of the curriculum allowed him to attain the required 75 hours of student teaching while also working part-time. Working at the same place where he did his student teaching was a convenient way to maintain close ties with the school and students.

"Every student I've met or taught has made a difference in my life. I feel comfortable teaching and know I am making a difference because of them," Castro told the source.

After he completes the Arizona and California state educator exams to become a certified teacher, he'll have all the tools necessary to pursue a full-time special education teaching position.

"I believe everything happens for a reason," he said. "Everything in my life and the decisions I've made led me to this point," he said. "I know my calling is to be a special education teacher."

It takes a certain skill set to be a successful special education teacher.It takes a certain skill set to be a successful special education teacher.

Special education industry
Those with a calling for special education should know that the profession takes a specific combination of skills and personality traits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in this field should be patient and have great communication skills. Some students need different types of care and consideration. It's important that a special education teacher is eager to present students with unique and effective lesson plans.

The demand for special education teachers varies. The BLS noted that job growth through 2022 is at an estimated 6 percent, which is slower than other professions. However, demand varies by region, and there's a greater need for these professionals in rural areas of the South and West. Geographical location, as well as a person's skills and personality, should all be factored in when considering a career in this field.

By Monique Smith

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Queens College offers more than 100 master's degrees and advanced certificates in the liberal arts, sciences, social sciences, and teacher education.
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