Roseanna Gonzalez

September 13, 2023

September 13, 2023

“Before working in special and alternative education, I worked with youth in juvenile detention. I related to many of them and saw myself in their stories. In the classrooms, I saw a lot of the same kids I saw in the juvenile detention centers and realized that most of them had some type of IEP (Individualized Education Plan).” 

“My heart broke for these kids. They are so smart and talented and capable, but for different reasons struggle to let those parts of themselves out with other people. I wanted to be a part of helping them be a part of the community again. That’s when I started working with special education and I haven’t looked back.” 

“Most of the students and families I serve are left out of the community. They are seen as a burden or a liability. They are either medicated into submission or sent further and further away from their community of peers. Parents often feel overwhelmed and judged. But I don’t believe anybody should exist outside of their community.” 

“That’s what I love about my job. I get to see students who couldn’t sit still in class or control their anger or even read beyond a first grade level get to a point where they can not only participate in school activities, but even lead. For many parents, it’s like getting their kids back.” 

“It doesn’t matter where we’ve come from, we have an obligation to those around us to help and bring outsiders into a deeper community. Along with my work as Director of SESI Tucson, I also lead a non-profit organization called It’s a Beautiful Life. With my non-profit, I’m able to incorporate my faith into how I help heal and restore those in my community who need help.” 

“If there was one thing I could change about the way we understand those with disabilities, behavioral challenges, and mental illness it would be to start with empathy. Every kid wants to feel like they are part of something. They want to belong. Beneath even the most challenging behaviors is the desire to belong.” 

“The more we see these children through the lens of empathy and looking for strengths, the more these kids and families will want to positively participate in the community. That hope is what keeps me going.”

Roseanna Gonzalez
Tucson, AZ

Roseanna is the Director of Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI) Tucson and the Executive Director of It’s a Beautiful Life.