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I have had a life full of enriching experiences. I was raised on a chicken ranch in Modesto, CA where I learned what “hard” work is all about at a young age. In high school I was hired for my first job away from my family. I was a dishwasher at the old Kress’ store. I then entered Modesto Junior College where I earned my associate degree in journalism. I went on to the University of California, Turlock where I studied for my bachelor’s degree in sociology.
After graduating from college I entered a teacher education program and I was hired as a sixth grade teacher. i thought I was well-prepared for this position. After the first day I went home exhausted but full of excitement to face the next day. I quickly learned a teacher needs to put a lot of focus on discipline…much more so than they teach you in the program. I was pleased at the end of the year as I was awarded “Outstanding Teacher of the Year.” I was very proud.
I taught for many years until I realized the number of children who were being left behind in the cracks. They could not read. They could not write. They could not do simple math. i thought for a long time and then I decided to open the first tutoring center in Modesto. I named it the Modesto Tutoring Center. I started with eight students. By the first of the year I was faced with an overflow of students and I hired another teacher. I was a tutor for many years. One day I was approached by some teachers, from a private school, where I taught for one year. The owner of the school was retiring and they encouraged me to take over the school.
My new school was named by a student – Creekside Private School. I was very proud of my school and I walked in the first day with 47 students. The following year we were filled to capacity and this is where I spent the next ten years of my life. Although we interviewed each new student, we also made certain we served every student with special needs. This is first where I learned about the many disabilities even though, at that time, they did not have specific names such as autism.
Later in my life I became overwhelmed with the desire to learn more about autism. I entered the graduate program at Notre Dame de Namur University, in Belmont, CA where I earned my master’s degree in special education. My first year of teaching autistic children was an experience I will never forget. Part of this was because I had so many interesting students but I also had a wonderful staff of dedicated paraprofessional educators. Eventually I decided I wanted to write a book about my experiences and a few years later, The Autism Handbook was born. Eventually my book was published in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. This afforded me the opportunity to travel through many parts of the United States to discuss my book, as well as offer seminars and workshops. This followed by similar situations in Mexico, and, then, China.
I now live a basic, simple life. I get most of my happiness from working with children, parents, and many families who have a child, or loved one, dealing with this difficult disability. I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to work with you. If you have any questions, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org/