The Resilience of a Teacher
All it took was a volunteer opportunity in a Lewiston High School special education classroom for Dominick Ventresco to discover his lifelong calling.
Now serving as the Lead Special Education Teacher for the Intensive Learning Center at Franklin Elementary School in Pullman, WA, Ventresco created the school’s elementary level intensive behavior program.
“The Intensive Learning Center is a highly structured special education program built to serve students with significant behavior needs and social emotional deficits,” Ventresco said. “The objective of the program is to provide them with skills and tools that will aide them in returning to the general education setting with minimal to no adult support.”
“COVID-19 has also presented a unique opportunity for me to grow in my abilities to provide learning opportunities in a whole new way through the virtual world.”
Aleksandra Hollingshead, Ed.D., is the Associate Dean of Accreditation and Inclusion and an Associate Professor of Special Education. As Ventresco’s former advisor and professor, she says his work as a student was always exemplary.
“Dominick’s impeccable work ethic, and commitment to learning and excellence, really stood out during his graduate program,” Hollingshead said.
Ventresco continues to excel despite the many adversities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and he sees the challenges he faces as possibilities for development.
“COVID-19 has granted me opportunities to grow as a leader in my educational family and community with Pullman Public Schools by giving support to my colleagues all around the district,” Ventresco said. “COVID-19 has also presented a unique opportunity for me to grow in my abilities to provide learning opportunities in a whole new way through the virtual world.”
It is without question that there is uncertainty for education students as they navigate school during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ventresco encourages them to place emphasis in their field experiences, whether those experiences are virtual or in person.
“Put a lot of effort and focus in the field because that’s when you’ll learn the most,” Ventresco said. “Really home in on the skills that your mentors are practicing.”
Ventresco said the University of Idaho provided him the best path to achieve his goals in the most efficient way, including his time as a student teacher.
As a result of his consistent resiliency and dedication, the Pullman Public Schools Board of Directors awarded Ventresco the 2020 Dedicated Teacher Award, acknowledging his outstanding work. He says it is a humbling and significant accomplishment thus far in his teaching career.
“I intend to continue to provide the most meaningful education I can to my students,” Ventresco said. “In whatever method is deemed necessary, I aim to do my best in fostering a fluid and successful special services program at Franklin Elementary.”
By Melanie Leija, for College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences