Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to chat with us. We love having you out at our campus. From the Great White North to UNM West is quite a journey. Give us the lowdown how your pursuit of a career in education, and special education in particular, guided you to our campus on the west mesa.
Thanks for this opportunity! As any good snow bird, I craved the sun and longed for winters that didn’t take up the better part of a year. I came down here (with a short stop in Knoxville, Tennessee) to continue my graduate work. My original intent was to get my doctorate in Anthropology, but a close friend’s mother – an amazing and inspiring special education teacher – gently prodded me in quite the opposite direction. Those many years ago, on a whim really, I took an introductory class in special education, and the rest is, as they say, history. I’ve never looked back. I just recently came to UNM to teach after working in Albuquerque Public Schools as a special education teacher for nearly a decade . It has been a wonderful ride, full of adventures, twists and turns that has brought me out here to the west mesa.
The College of Education and The Special Education Dual License Program are an important part of the continued growth here at UNM West. Together they will also no doubt have a tremendous influence on the larger Rio Rancho community. Please speak about our campus presence and its impact on your students and their classroom learning experience.
The students actually really enjoy coming out here, as do I. It is certainly convenient for the students who live, work and teach in this neck of the woods. They all say they like having a break from the hectic pace of main campus – fighting for parking, hoards of people, more fighting for parking- plus the free coffee, copy privileges, the peace and quiet most conducive to studying, the gorgeous views are all very appealing. During our evening class, we all sometimes just take a collective break and gaze out at the mountains as the sun sets – breath-taking! It is a great place to work, and with wonderful and very helpful people out here, too!
As the son of a teacher, I know firsthand most people certainly do not go into education for the money. What do you find to be the most rewarding part of being an educator?
I, too, come from a family of educators all of whom have been of tremendous inspiration and support. For me, the most rewarding part of being a teacher is really just knowing that what I do can make a difference. As a special education teacher, however big or small the magnitude, the progresses of students were like fireworks displays, so worthy of celebration. Now, as a professor, seeing the sparks of interest and enthusiasm in students preparing for the teaching profession is equally as rewarding.
I love the book, Stellaluna, about a lost fruit bat. Perhaps because I see a bit of myself in the story. What is your favorite children’s book?
My favorite book… well, that is a tough one as there are so many wonderful ones out there. I would say that among my top is El Cucuy by Joe Hayes, a wonderful story teller from the southwest US. It is a regional “boogey man” tale. Whenever I read it to children, they sit slack-jawed, leaning into the book as they hear about two girls carried into the mountains by El Cucuy after not heeding their father and tormenting their little sister. The story is always followed up with a discussion with the children as to whether they think El Cucuy is real – this as I point out the window in the direction of the Sandia Mountains. There’ve always been a few slightly nervous little giggles when I’ve asked the children, “Do you think El Cucuy would come down to get little students who weren’t heeding their teachers?” A great book and a lot of fun for children AND adults!
What do you miss most about Canada? What do you like most about the living in the states?
I miss my friends and family, mostly. And the cool summers days that are stretched into 18 hours of daylight. Oh, and the hockey, of course! But I love living south of the border. New Mexico is a wonderful state, and one that, without reservation, I now call home. I can’t imagine living anywhere but here. So much culture, so many beautiful places to visit. A wonderful balance of seasons. I must say, however, as the spring winds are howling through my office windows right now (rattling them, actually!), I could do with a little less of that.
As an avid golfer, I can’t say that I’m a fan of the wind either. Though since you can play year round here in New Mexico, I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. Any words of wisdom for aspiring teachers?
It is not a profession for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of passion, compassion, work and commitment, but the rewards far exceed the efforts. There is nothing better or more fulfilling than knowing that you have enriched young lives and minds.
It is just about time to fade to black. Is there anything else you would like to share with our reading audience?
No, nothing else that I can think of! Again, thanks for this opportunity! This faculty spotlight is a great way to get to know more about those working out here at UNM West!
Agreed. The spotlight is an excellent way to learn more about the amazing people like yourself who make the campus what it is. Thank you again Dr. Stott, it has been a pleasure. By the way, sepia does indeed suit you well. For more information on the Special Education Dual License Program at UNM West please contact Della Gallegos at 505.277.5018 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also be sure to Like Us on Facebook for all the latest UNM West news, haps and occasionally free swag.