Teacher Appreciation Week Special Education Stories: Sudha Krishnan

To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, the SJSU Lurie College of Education met with some of its students, alumni, and faculty from the Special Education department to learn more about their journeys into the field of special education – learn about Sudha Krishnan’s journey!

Hi my name is Sudha Krishnan and I teach in the Cupertino Union School District in Northern California. I’m a special educator. I teach a special day class with students with moderate and severe disabilities. I started off teaching a classroom with students with autism and now have moved on to teaching students with various other disabilities too. How did I get into this field? When I look back on my life, I began as an economist and my dream was to work as an economist in the world bank. And that is how i started, i was a utility planner in Palo Alto Electric Utility system and had several other jobs. And then something happened that really changed my life and career. I had a son that was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old. I was determined at the time after of course the initial shock and grieving over having a son with a disability, I was determined to somehow teach him. And in those days to cure him which was the fad.

“So, I trained myself in ABA which was very popular at the time, the applied behaviour analysis. I’ve read every book I could on autism and I attended every conference I could to learn more about the new treatments and medications for autism and any other material I could lay my hands on. I would talk to the school district about the new treatments and medical interventions I could talk about. One day in one of the meetings, where I had a lawyer’s notice and was threatening to sue the school district over my son’s placement. The school district said you know so much about autism and special education, why don’t you just become a teacher in our school district. I said well I never gave thought to that and now that you said it, I may as well do that.

“The next thing I did was to contact San Jose State University and start my credential program. Sure enough the school hired me on an emergency credential and I worked through my credential program in the school district and I’ve been with that school district ever since. Now it’s been about 19 years and I’ve loved every minute about it. It’s not only about the fact my son had autism that kept me in special education but the fact when I walked into the classroom with all the students, i found that job and experienced to be the most rewarding experienced ever. It paled beside the boring stuff I did, you know the paperwork and economic stuff I worked on. I found that by being with students and the joy of them learning seem to provide me with the juice to go on with my life.

“And that is why even today, I love being in the classroom and I’m most comfortable in a classroom teaching students. Everyday I learn something new from the students, it’s not that only I’ve taught them, I have learned from the parents, I have learned from the students. My students have taught me how to patient, they’ve developed my personality as a teacher throughout the years. I give a lot of credit to my students for doing that. They have taught me to be patient, they have to taught me to be funny, to be engaging, how to emphasize with their condition and not just judge them by behavior alone. But, how to work with them, how to feel for them when they’re not having a good day. When I show the same empathy in my family and friends, they have noticed the change in me over the years. So, that is my story.”

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