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Special Ed teacher Shelley Dini: Her students are her inspiration
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New Haven Elementary teacher Shelley Dini’s Peer Resource students have just completed a school-wide fund-raising project which raised more than $3,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. She is distinctly proud, not just of the 13 in Peer Resource but of the entire student body who stepped up to the plate and support a worthy course.

But she is most proud of her students in her Special Education class. She teaches seventh- and eighth-grade students in her special class. The eight in her classroom are considered mild-moderate emotionally disturbed students. They have normal IQs so they don’t have a learning handicap but just have mild to moderate emotional issues which give them the tendency to get overwhelmed with things. The class provides them with a lot of behavior support to help them cope in hopes of getting them into mainstream education.

Like many other teachers in Special Education classes, Dini is in the profession because she loves her job as much as the special children she teaches. And she has done so in the past 16 years, equipped with three credentials and a master’s degree.

“You have to have the desire to work with these kids. I just love to see the students succeed,” and that’s the biggest satisfaction she derives from her job, she said.

“I’m blessed that I love my job so much,” she added. But the job also comes with a huge responsibility. The parents entrust their children to the teachers and expect them to make sure their kids are safe and they are learning.

“That’s a big responsibility because parents, truly, are the experts on their kids,” Dini said.

One of the biggest joys she derives from her job is when her students stay in contact with her even long after they have moved on to bigger and better things. One such former student, she was  happy to share, is Benjamin Carrasco who is, himself, now working for the Manteca Unified School District as a Special Education paraprofessional.

“He is now working but he wants to do more. He’s quite the inspiration to us,” Dini happily noted.