Oliva Perales

Position: Learning Center Teacher, Grades 2-4

School: Alvin Dunn Elementary School

School District: San Marcos Unified School District

City, State: San Marcos, California

About the Nominee: Oliva Perales was nominated by a colleague, Susan Moise. Mrs. Perales is a LifeChanger because of her deep dedication to her job. Her passion is teaching, and the students she works with are so lucky to have her in their lives. She works with special education students, as well as students who have difficult home situations. Mrs. Perales is so valuable to the Alvin Dunn Elementary School community that she has been assigned to teach three grades. She is trained as a co-teacher, teaching special ed students in full inclusion along with the general ed classrooms. If a student is out of school for medical reasons, Mrs. Perales goes to their home daily to make sure they do not fall behind in their studies. She is patient, kind, loving and smart. She is not a teacher who comes in with face paint and balloons, but she is a teacher who lets her students know that she is there for them and will never let them down. If there is a need to be filled, she finds a way to help. Her quiet, sweet nature makes her naturally attractive to students, who gravitate to her for calmness in their lives.

Mrs. Perales fought for full inclusion in her school and was trained as a co-teacher to make sure it was successful. Her nominator, Ms. Moise, can't say enough good things about her. In Ms. Moise's words, "I could say how much she helps her colleagues, but it is the students at Alvin Dunn who are the luckiest."

Mrs. Perales not only changes the lives of the special education students who are under her tutelage, but the lives of general ed students as well, as they realize it's okay to be different and that we can all be accepting and get along. She is an outstanding teacher and a model to other organizations around the state. Mrs. Perales' work demonstrates that full inclusion of special education students is important, valuable, doable and LifeChanging!