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Work & Purpose

From Foot Surgery to a New Career Path

Elaine Chavez saw her layoff as an opportunity to deepen her teaching skills


Editor's note: This is Elaine Chavez's story in her own words.

I'd like to share how I have weathered the storm of a change in my career, and the downturn of the economy.

I had surgery on my foot in 2011 – a full reconstruction of my arch and replacement of tendons. At the time, I was a pre-K teacher at a private school. But after my surgery I was laid off, basically because I could not stand on my foot too long and perform my regular duties. I continued my education, completing my bachelor’s degree in education in December 2012.

I then worked as an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) skills trainer for autistic children, for about nine months. Due to few hours available, I quit as a skills trainer. I was hired as a paraprofessional by the New Jerusalem Elementary School District in Tracy, Calif., again working with autistic children. I love it!

I plan to move to Kona, Hawaii, this year and work as a mentor, training pre-K teachers.

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