Teacher touches students’ hearts

Sophie Haddad

“The difference [between teaching special education and regular education] is that there is a slightly different mindset in that you need to be creative and flexible with special education more so than regular education. Whereas, regular education requires you to be a little bit more rigid because you’re dealing with so many more students and you can’t bend the rules as much. With special education students, you need to be able to meet them where they are more,” said Cary Milia, a special education teacher at Carlmont High School.

Sophie Haddad, Multimedia Editor

“He helps me with emotional support. That’s number one because, if you don’t have that, you don’t have anything,” said Marvin Lomeli.

Lomeli is one of the students whom Cary Milia, a guitar player and father, teaches. Milia found his niche in teaching children with disabilities after he subbed long-term for a special education class.

“You have to be very compassionate because families, oftentimes, are going through a lot and there’s a lot of difficulties for all high school students. This is especially true for students who have some unique challenges that you have to deal with,” Milia said.

Milia followed in his father’s footsteps in the beginning of his career.

“I always loved the fact that [my dad] was a teacher. He is a wonderful person and always very enthusiastic about teaching history. I saw how much his students appreciated that. I think that was a big influence on me,” said Milia.

Not too far in, however, he began to diverge from his father’s career.

“I worked for a construction company, doing purchasing. I did that for a little while, then I realized that it wasn’t really enough of a challenge for me. It wasn’t inspiring enough for me so I decided to go back [to school] and get my teaching credentials,” said Milia.

Originally desiring to be a social studies teacher himself, Milia later discovered his propensity for special education when he subbed long term and taught at a therapeutic day school class over the summer.

“The people really liked me and I found that I had sort of a knack for it. I really liked the kids and liked the program and so then, when the job opened up, I applied for it,” he said.

In order to teach special education, Milia went to San Jose State University to obtain a mild-moderate credential which set the foundation for his master’s degree in special education.

“I spent a lot of time at school. [I took] two classes a semester at night school at San Jose State to do that. It took a while. It took a few years,” said Milia.

Milia details the challenge in teaching special education, as well as the enjoyment.

“You do have to think on your feet and adjust constantly. You have to identify where students are and then immediately make adjustments in the moment, which makes it fun and interesting,” he said.

According to one of his students, Milia is capable of enforcing diligent study habits.

“He’s good at keeping you on task,” said Jasmine Torres.

Outside of teaching, Milia participates in the Riff Raff Staff Band. He also continues his education by taking classes at Stanford University on the Greek classics.

Milia said, “I like to socialize. I like to do my hobbies which include playing guitar. I like to also continue to challenge myself intellectually.”

Milia’s outlook is bright, and he envisions a future in which he will continue teaching.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email