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 retaliation 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. She spent the next five years in Honolulu advocating for greater community involvement, transparency, and accountability. She regularly attended State of Hawaii Board of Education meetings and submitted testimony to the BOE and state legislators. For more than a year she managed BOE Watch, a citizen’s group that video recorded all BOE General and Committee meetings, and made them available on YouTube, but that project eventually ended when the BOE refused to work with volunteers claiming it would cost too much to do so.
She now happily teaches piano lessons to beginning students of all ages at Kailua Music School on the island of Oahu, and continues to maintain a second home on Hawaii Island. During school year 2017-2018, she volunteered to home school a 10-year-old young man dealing with a learning disability, and she continues to be an integral part of his ongoing education. Special thanks goes to Vanessa’s husband for financially supporting her while she devotes time to this very special young man who has grown intellectually by leaps and bounds in such a short time and with such a positive attitude.
READ VANESSA’S ESSAY ABOUT BEING HANDICAPPED: