John CorderoSaturday, May 01, 2021
Johannes "John" Cordero graduated from FAU in 2013 with a degree in special education from the College of Education. In 2014, he became an Autism Education teacher, in a self-contained program with the Broward County Public Schools District. Cordero is currently the fourth and fifth grade Autism Educator at Fox Trail Elementary School in Davie. Cordero is also an aftercare counselor at the school's afterschool program, and for four years was part of the school's School Advisory Council committee. "I love going to work every day. I have a supportive team of experienced professionals and dedicated school leaders," Cordero said.
In 2018, Cordero was a direct care worker at Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options (JAFCO) Children's Ability Center in Sunrise, providing support services to students with developmental disabilities and behavioral disorders.
"I've always loved the field of teaching and I'm always furthering my knowledge on different topics of research. Additionally, the field of psychology has always fascinated me as well. So, what better field than special education and autism to be involved in?" Cordero said. "The research is extensive in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), from developing effective instructional strategies to studies examining possible contributing factors of ASD. Furthermore, I enjoy working with children with developmental disabilities, by helping them develop fundamental skills, such as self-advocacy and social interactions skills so that they may be as independent as possible."
At FAU Broward, Cordero was the Broward Program Board Director and a two-term Broward Campus Governor for Broward Student Government. "Working in Student Government (SG) helped develop my confidence and leadership skills, which has contributed to my current position as an ASD teacher," Cordero said. "I also had a great team of student colleagues and advisors which helped in developing my skills. While working in SG, I quickly had to adapt to balance full-time classes, homework and manage multiple SG projects and initiatives."
During the student teaching portion of his undergraduate degree at FAU, Cordero was placed at Monarch High School's PASS Program, where he gained experience working with students with disabilities through the development and implementation of community-based instruction and sheltered employment programs.
In 2013, Cordero participated in FAU's Second Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at FAU Broward, under the mentorship of Dr. Dianne Wright. Using surveys documenting participant experiences and perspectives, the purpose of his research was to provide insight on lower rates of college student participation in extra-curricular activities, in campuses and universities where non-traditional, commuter, older and working students attend, and hopefully identify best-practice models that cultivate and incentivize student engagement. "I really enjoyed being part of the research process, which is coming in handy now, as I am taking a graduate course in educational research at Florida Gulf Coast University." Among his favorite classes at FAU: Overview of Students with Exceptionalities, with Dr. Rangasamy Ramasamy and Applied Learning Theories with Dr. Angela Rhone. "I really enjoyed how informative their classes were and Dr. Rhone's passion for the field of education," Cordero said.
Cordero, who was born in Puerto Rico and now lives in Sunrise, is working on his master's in special education, fully online, at Florida Gulf Coast University. Soon after graduation, Cordero plans on obtaining certification in Behavior Analysis.
"While we are making progress in the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and inclusive, sensory-friendly activities, I believe we need to continue with training and awareness initiatives on how to approach children and young adults with ASD in public, especially for first responders and public safety personnel," Cordero said. "Progress is being made, such as with the Wes Kleinert Fair Interview Act in 2016. The act creates an identifier on a driver’s license, or identification card allowing a responding police officer to evaluate the situation and approach the individual accordingly. This is one of many ideas I think can be implemented nationwide."
As for educators who want to specialize in special education, Cordero offers the following advice: "Just take it day by day and find the positive and laughter, even in the most difficult situations. Remember, our students just need extra help, but are not incapable. Given individualized supports and accommodations, all students can succeed! It truly is a rewarding field with vast job opportunities, both in the school system and in local community resource agencies," he said.