BYU Alumnus finds joy in teaching students with severe and profound disabilities

Timothy Pead has always felt connected with individuals who have disabilities. In his 10 years as an educator, Pead has had the privilege of helping many reach their full potential. He has given us his account of becoming a special education teacher and expressed what teaching has meant to him. Here are his own words.

My Professional Journey

My professional journey began back in ninth grade at Orem Junior High. I told my counselor that I wanted to be a veterinarian, a doctor, or a teacher who worked with children that had handicaps. In high school I found that I enjoyed associating with people who had disabilities. That love for helping others landed me a job where I worked as a habilitation technician and direct care supervisor at a full-time residential facility for individuals with disabilities who ranged from age two to 22 years old.

After serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I looked at majors in biology, zoology, and psychology; but none of them felt right. It was at this time that I happened to cross paths with a friend who worked as the secretary in the Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education (CPSE) at BYU. She informed me that they had just begun offering an undergraduate degree in special education with an emphasis in severe/profound or mild/moderate disabilities. "At that time, all of the spots were filled for severe/profound for that year, but they were still accepting applications for mild/moderate."

I went home debating what to do, because working with individuals with severe/profound disabilities was my passion. I had completed all of my general courses and needed to make a decision. My wife and I decided that I could either take the semester off or apply for the mild/moderate cohort and then look at a dual certification.

When I contacted my friend again, she told me that one of the students in the severe/profound program had just dropped out and they had one opening. I stayed up all night completing the application. I also signed up for all of the introductory courses just hoping that I would be accepted. I even attended the first day of classes without knowing the decision of the acceptance committee. Luckily for me I was accepted and began the amazing experience of learning from incredible professors like Katie Sampson (Steed), Tina Dyches, and Betty Ashbaker. I was lucky enough to earn an internship at Timberline Middle School working with Melanie Hansen, who is one of the best life skills teachers in the state.

From there, I was given a position at Lone Peak High School. While teaching there, I earned my master’s degree in special education with an administrative/supervisory endorsement. In 2014 I was given the opportunity to be a TAA (teacher on administrative assignment) at LPHS and have loved my experience.

My Thoughts on Education

Education, if done correctly, is a constant cycle of learning. I believe that education is an individual journey, and no matter where you are on your learning journey there is progress to be made. Everyone needs to find what makes them happy and do it to the best of their ability.

Effective education also needs strong leadership. Educational leaders can single-handedly have a huge effect on the progress and learning of others. Whether students are working on core academic areas, college readiness, or career exploration, everyone can benefit from education.

Valuable Experiences from Education

I have now been in education for 10 years. Here are some of the most gratifying moments I’ve experienced thus far:

1. The thrill of seeing students with significant behavior disorders make enough improvement to be successful in a school setting and receive their high school diploma.

2. The enjoyment of seeing several peer tutors that I’ve worked with not only decide to enter the education field but specifically choose to become special education teachers.

3. Assembling a panel of parents who helped their student transition from high school to the real world. These parents came back and shared their experiences with parents who currently had students in the high school setting. It was a wonderful night where parents enjoyed hearing stories and valuable information that resonated with them. This was done as part of my master’s degree creative project.

Pead is an Orem, Utah native who currently lives in American Fork, UT. He and his wife, Ashley, are the parents of three children.

Photo Courtesy of Tim Pead