5-18-2017 – Norco – Meet Michele Lew! She is an Adult Transition Teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle College High School (JFMCHS).
After graduating with her Bachelors’ degree she did not know what career to pursue.
“I decided to substitute teach while I figured it out,” she says, “I started subbing for CNUSD and my first encounter with special education was when I subbed at Victress Bower. It was like walking into a whole new world that was both humbling and fascinating to me.”
Michele quickly became a regular at Bower and it was then when she realized she wanted to work with students with disabilities full-time.
Both of her parents were teachers.
“My parents still like to remind me how I always vowed not to be a teacher,” she says.
Michele has been teaching for 12 years; 9 of those years at JFKMCS as an Adult Transition Teacher and three of those years as a Life Skills Teacher at Parkridge Elementary.
The Adult Transition Program is a program for students 18 – 22 years old with disabilities. The program focuses on the vocational and life skills students will need to be successful as adults.
“We spend the majority of our day outside of the classroom and in the community,” says Michele.
For Michele, the best part of being a teacher is the students.
“They’ve taught me to look at the world with a sense of wonder and excitement,” she says, “My students remind me every day to be grateful for the little things and I’m motivated by their quest for knowledge. They constantly challenge me to bring my best teaching self, causing me to stretch and grow as a professional.”
After twelve years of teaching, Michele still wakes up excited each morning to start her day because she knows she is going to a place where there is joy, excitement, and a ton of laughter.
“There’s really nothing better than that,” she says.
Michele earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Students, General Education and Special Education Credentials, and Master of Arts in Special Education at the University of California, Riverside. She received an Administrative Credential from California Baptist University.
Her educational philosophy is all students can learn and all students, no matter their differences, should be given the opportunity to learn.
“It is always my goal to maximize all potential in every student no matter their disability,” she says.
One of her favorite hobbies is being active.
“I run one-half marathon a year, always in a new destination,” she says, “I completed my favorite race last year when I ran a half marathon on the Great Wall of China. Aside from running, I also love hiking and lifting weights.”
Another passion is traveling.
“I love exploring new cultures and I find traveling expands my perspective and gives me a much more global mindset,” says Michele, “My most memorable trip, so far, was when I went on a safari in Tanzania. Seeing lions, elephants, and zebras in their natural habit gave me a true appreciation for the circle of life.”
Michele was recently chosen as a Fulbright Scholar and will be traveling to Palestine this summer for six weeks to work with the Palestinian Ministry of Education on creating a teacher training curriculum on special education best practices.
“I am so excited,” she says, “My goal is to learn and absorb as much as possible while I’m there, while also sharing my knowledge of special education best practices with the Palestinian Ministry of Education.”
She hopes to help them create a sustainable teacher training curriculum that can be used even after she is gone.
“I’m also on a mission to discover the best falafel in Palestine,” she says.
Her favorite phrase is, be a good and decent human being.
“It is something I often tell my daughter and is something I try to live every day,” she says, “Every person deserves to be treated with kindness and decency.”