CEC Member Since 2013
Like many educators, Vivien DePeralta didn’t always want to be a teacher. Her path to the profession was more deeply rooted in a desire to change the world.
“I always knew that I wanted to change the world—and I know that sounds silly, but that’s the reality of it. And I realize that it’s a tall order, and that it’s not always glittery.”
When people in her life suggested teaching, Vivien was unsure. The daughter of immigrant parents, she had been raised to appreciate school and understood how important it was to take advantage of public education opportunities. Still, she wasn’t sure it was the right path for her.
“I was good at school. I liked school; I liked my teachers. And I respected how hard it was for my parents to leave their home country and how much of a sacrifice they made for the chance of a better opportunity.”
But on her path to change the world, Vivien saw the dedication and hard work of educators around her and wanted to get involved.
“My colleagues, my students and their families are counting on me to stay informed on the very latest evidence-based practices. I need CEC’s journals to provide the instructional strategies my students need to access the general education curriculum.”
Now, Vivien is changing the world as an inclusion specialist—working with teachers and schools to enhance and challenge their special education practices and do more for kids. “I’m committed to the work—I pour it all in. And you don’t know if the fruits of your labor are going to make a difference, but it never crosses your mind to say, ‘oh, I’m going to only give a little bit.’ I try to tell myself I’ve done a good job. I’ve done the job I know how to do.”
Why I Do What I Do
“The unique challenge of teachers of exceptional children — to meet the exceptional need — is my favorite part of the job. The challenge allows me to teach with and learn from different people daily. The analysis, research, reflection and problem-solving required to meet the needs of our students generates continuous learning and improvement. Collaborating with colleagues toward a common goal affords me opportunities to learn from other teachers, specialists, and leaders and to share my enthusiasm for finding and creating solutions. I work for more than an “Ah ha!” or light-bulb-turning-on moment. Ultimately, doing this work and accepting the exceptional challenge translates into opportunity, equity and improved quality of life for more people.”
Hardworking parents were Vivien’s biggest influences. “My parents could not afford childcare or after school programs. My dad went to work during the day and my mom went to work at night, and between the two of them, they were our child care.”
From them, she learned about hard work. They always made education a priority, and while her parents taught Vivien to work smart, they also emphasized that she would have to work hard, too. “Knowing that they made a conscious decision to leave their home because of what they hoped for in the future for their children really showed me hard work and sacrifice. They personified that.”
How CEC Helps Vivien Do More
As an inclusion specialist, Vivien works closely with her classroom teacher colleagues,
When Vivien needs proven-to-work, instructional strategies, she turns to TEACHING Exceptional Children, CEC’s highly ranked, peer-reviewed journal.
Vivien’s Favorite Books
The Hungering Dark by Frederick Buechner
“There is something true and unfiltered and poetic about how he writes. Both “skinny” books, I could read this and The Magnificent Defeat over and over because he is able to package so much thought, doubt, wonder and inspiration concisely into such prose,” Vivien says of Buechner’s books.
If you could invite any one person to dinner, who would it be?
Vivien says, “He didn’t finish school, but he made a promise to himself to go back and finish. And he made good on that promise and then continued his education. I’d ask him, ‘What’s the thing about you that made you make good on that promise to yourself to go back to school?'”