Aloha! Vanessa is a former successful audio electronics specialist, technical writer, and IT professional. In her mid 40s she decided to become an elementary school in a high need area on the Big Island of Hawaii – a magical place she had been visiting for about a decade. She attended the College of Education at California State University, East Bay, and became a certified Hawaii public school teacher in 2007. After five years of smothering bureaucratic frustration infused with emotionally draining harassment because she steadfastly defended her own disability rights and the rights of her students, she stopped working for the State of Hawaii Department of Education. Then, she spent another five years in Honolulu advocating for greater community involvement, transparency, and accountability by regularly attending State of Hawaii Board of Education meetings, and submitting testimony to the BOE and state legislators. She now happily teaches piano lessons to beginning students of all ages at Kailua Music School, and continues to maintain a home and rental property on Hawaii Island. For the duration of school year 2017-2018, she is helping a Tongan mom homeschool her son. He is learning how to build on his strengths and overcome his learning challenges. His progress thus far has been extremely encouraging. This year’s goal is to advance the his academic ability by at least two grade levels so that when he returns to the public school system next school year, he’ll be in much better shape to face life’s learning challenges. Special thanks goes to Vanessa’s husband for financially supporting her while she devotes her time to this special young man.
VANESSA’S ESSAY ABOUT BEING HANDICAPPED: