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Their Struggle is Her Strength: Making a difference for Miami’s special needs children

by Monica Smith

Jun 18, 2019, 9:00 AM.

Miami special education teacher Natasha Quesada helps her students overcome their struggles.

With a classroom filled with students that demonstrate emotional and behavioral disabilities (EBD), her passion stands out while her skills help her make a difference in the lives of some truly special students.

“They need love and respect and we can’t just define students on behavior—there’s so much to it,” Quesada explained and spoke about one of her students who just finished first grade.

“I had her for two years since kindergarten,” said Quesada with emotion. “She’s finally at the point where she can go into the general education classes. For her to be able to function in a general education class means that we reached a significant goal. The biggest gift to me has been watching her abilities emerge, just like a butterfly that comes out of a cocoon. She’s grown and moved on to the next chapter, which is huge.”

After four years of teaching EBD classes, it’s successes like this that keep Quesada going and she hopes to have many more victories with other students. She is excited to apply the methods she’s learning from her Florida International University master’s program in Special Education, which also leads to an autism endorsement.

The rewards in special education are overwhelming when you see the difference you can make. The smiles and hugs fuel the day, but life-changing progress is priceless for Quesada who is dedicated to helping those who need it most.

Expert faculty in FIU’s program are continually exploring new methods through real, ongoing studies within the Miami Dade County Public School system. These studies are focused on all types of individuals and families from all backgrounds and feature the use of technology and research. These distinct highlights are crucial to Quesada who is seeking relevant knowledge that translates seamlessly to her own classroom where time is short, patience is a virtue and the children and their families are culturally and linguistically diverse.

For more information on the program, visit

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