Veteran Teacher Takes Over Special Ed Dept.
Veteran HMS special education teacher Cheryl Aguilar has stepped into the special education director post left vacant by the resignation of James Johns.
Aguilar inherits a staff of more than 100 employees who oversee the educational needs of students from pre-school through graduation.
“This job needs somebody who cares about these kids and cares about the programs that are in place,” Aguilar said on Tuesday, her first day on the job. “I will support the staff as they help these kids reach their goals.”
HMS Supt. TJ Parks said the district was lucky to recruit somebody from within the district to quickly replace Johns – who resigned to become athletic director at Carlsbad. “Cheryl has the experience, empathy and administrative credentials it will take to keep such a large program running smoothly,” Parks said. “We’ll miss James but we feel fortunate to have somebody of her ability.”
Aguilar first went to work for Hobbs schools in 1995 as a special education teacher, then taught ninth-grade English for several years. She later returned to special education classrooms at Houston Junior High and the Freshman High School while simultaneously earning a master’s degree in administration and a special education license.
At the time of her promotion, Aguilar was Houston’s lead special education teacher.
“Those kids just draw me,” Aguilar said of her special education classroom experience. “The work has its challenges but there are so many more rewards. You just have to be able to see each of the little baby steps of progress and acknowledge them.”
Special education services for HMS students begin at a young age. Learning Center staff each year sponsor a “Child Find,” a program that identifies pre-school children whose difficulties can range from a simple case of slurred speech to severe physical and/or mental disabilities.
At the elementary and secondary level, special needs also encompasses the gifted program. Employees of the program include speech pathologists, occupational therapists, special education teachers and aides.
Administering a program that addresses wide-ranging needs “is a daunting task,” Aguilar said. “I’m not going to deny that. But I have an amazing team to work with. I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping them do what they need to do every day.”