The Outlet: Nichole Santiago

In this issue’s recurring segment that gives students an opportunity to learn more about the teachers they see every day, staffer Rachel Alexander interviews ESE teacher Nichole Santiago.

  1. Why did you choose to work with kids that have special needs?

During my junior year in college, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a special needs school. I fell in love with the students and atmosphere there. The teacher who I was helping told me I was a natural and should consider a career in special education. I decided that summer to change my major from elementary education to exceptional student education.

  1. What is something you want all of your students to learn from you?

My hope for my students is for them to become as independent as possible. I want them to learn that they can do anything they put their minds to and that I am here cheering for them every step of the way. I like to always look at the positive side of things and hope they will do the same.

  1. If you had one day to change the world what would you do?

If I had one day to change the world, I would want world peace. I would love to spend my day creating glasses that everyone could wear. With these glasses, people would not see race, gender and disabilities. Everyone would be equal and there would be no hate in the world. My students look at the world with this vision. I wish others would do the same.

  1. Where is your dream place to live?

My dream place to live would be anywhere on a beach. I love how peaceful it is with the water. Growing up, my family would take a yearly trip to Captiva Island. It is one of my favorite places to go.

  1. What is one life lesson your students have taught you over the years?

Over the years, my students taught me many things. One of the most important things is patience. Each one of my students throughout the years have been different and unique in their own ways. It requires patience and time to encourage each one to work to his or her fullest potential.

  1. How has working with kids that have special needs shaped you as a person?

Working with children with special needs has taught me to appreciate life and all it has to offer. My students are amazing; every day that I work with them, there is a new experience and they exceed my expectations. They enjoy the little things and that has taught me to enjoy the little things as well.

  1. What is a motto that you go by?

Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.

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