The Difference Teachers Can Make

Elementary school teachers kept her from falling behind, and now she hopes to pay it forward.
Student Bridget Ceremeno on laptop

Bridget Cermeno ’23 had never heard of attention deficit disorder in second grade. All she knew was that she often had to miss recess to catch up with her schoolwork or to meet with teachers one on one. 

But a teacher with a hunch suggested that Cermeno’s parents get her tested for a potential learning disability, and was correct. Her diagnosis set Cermeno on the path to academic success and played a role in her choice of UMD major and career aspirations. 

“I was incredibly shy at first speaking up about my disability and didn’t often reach out for help,” Cermeno says, “but my teachers were there to support me. By high school, I was much more open about it.” 

Cermeno was a native Spanish speaker, which compounded her ADD as she tried to improve her grasp of English. But her Spanish teacher also had a certificate in special ed. 

“She made sure I felt comfortable inside and outside the classroom,” says Cermeno. “She helped me and my parents understand my issue, and it made a huge difference in my academic experience.” 

As an education major, Cermeno participated in early field experience her junior year, spending eight weeks in two different special ed classroom settings before choosing a track on general education plus disabilities training. 

During her fall semester, Cermeno is spending two days a week in a local elementary school classroom with two mentor teachers: one for general education and one for special education. In the spring, she will move to a five-days-per-week format, immersing herself in hands-on learning. And she’s not stopping after graduation. 

“I just received my acceptance letter from UMD to get my master’s in special ed,” she says. “The classes I take this year will apply toward that degree. I’m excited to continue with this program and help students with the same disabilities I faced.”