A call for community: Utah educator Eric Schwobe shares his primary hope for his students

Eric Schwobe is a teacher at Bridges Transition Center in Springville, Utah. With a mission statement of, “I can and I will,” Bridges supports students in “developing the skills necessary to build an independent and successful future.” 

From Bridge’s website: 

“Students are placed in one of five separate classes, all of which provide instruction in functional academics, social skills, independent living, and vocational training. All students are provided opportunities to practice and develop these skills on a daily basis, with direct instruction both in the classroom and in the community. At Bridges we individualize support and instruction to meet each student's needs and goals” 

I met Eric when he recommended one of his students for an ambassadorship. His action-oriented advocacy, prioritization of student strengths, keen awareness of their challenges, and obvious care for his students inspired me to reach out to ask about his work.

Below are my questions, followed by his answers.

Mary: What is your biggest hope for your students once they graduate?

Eric: I would like my students to exit the public school system with a meaningful place to go everyday, filled with meaningful relationships and work that they can do, even if it is just volunteering. 

The school system is wonderful, but it provides a level of support for kids with disabilities that is wholly unique, and not matched anywhere else once they graduate. Its’ imperative that the kids have a healthy and supportive environment set up for them once they graduate at age 22. 

Mary: Why are inclusion and equity important, and how can we better prioritize them in education?

Eric: It would be helpful if the general population understood that equity is not equal. Not everyone needs the same amount or type of support to be successful at school; not even in the same special ed classroom. 

Feeling successful is the best way to achieve self efficacy and a positive self esteem.

Mary: What have you learned from your students? 

Eric: I have seen the world through their eyes. It’s helped me slow down and interpret things for them that I would have otherwise totally taken for granted and overlooked.