By Eric Fergason
We recently sat down with Paul Bastedo, UA alumnus and Strategic Learning Specialist at the SALT Center, to talk about the challenges and rewards of his job. Paul utilized SALT Center services as an undergraduate at the UA. This self-proclaimed product of the SALT Center describes the way he works with students with passion and empathy.
While Paul was teaching in the Sunnyside Unified School District, his former Strategic Learning Specialist contacted him and encouraged him to consider working at the SALT Center. Paul decided to apply for the position, but didn’t plan on staying long - “I thought I would come here, work while I got my master’s, and go somewhere else.” To our good fortune, after earning a master’s degree in Special Education and five years at the SALT Center, Paul continues to meet with over sixty students a week. “I’m here because of the difference we make in the lives of these students.”
Reflecting on the unique experience of working with students throughout their college career, Paul recounts an array of difficulties and successes - from the challenges of helping them adjust to college life, to the pride he feels in watching them grow and gain confidence, to their transition to life after college: “Sometimes, we're not just their Strategic Learning Specialists, we’re their mentor, their person to vent to, their friend.”
A top priority for our Strategic Learning Specialists is to provide learning strategies to the students they support: “As for learning strategies, I spend a lot of time talking about time-management and reading strategies.” Paul says these strategies help students who learn differently navigate their coursework successfully, and find a balance between academics and their personal life.
Like the rest of our Strategic Learning Specialists, Paul is always working to improve his practice by obtaining certifications and participating in professional development. Paul’s CV includes a Teaching Credential (Cross-Categorical Special Education, K-12), as well as a Behavior Support Specialist Certification. Paul is currently working towards his Board-Certified Behavior Analyst certification.
We are so grateful for Paul’s dedication to his students and the rest of our staff here at the SALT Center. His wit, charm, and passion make him an amazing asset to our team, and his investment in his students continues to change lives.