Erik Coloma: From college admissions to teaching Special Education

Coloma smiles while holding a lightsaber. Photo courtesy of Erik Coloma

SAN JOSE, CALIF. Erik Coloma went from doing college admissions to teaching Special Education at Silver Creek High School. This year is his first year of teaching.  

Coloma chose to teach Special Ed because he has a passion for working with students who have disabilities. Growing up, he had a brother who had a disability. The support he received and the teachers his brother worked with motivated him to change his career to teaching. Prior to his teaching career, he worked ten years doing college admissions. He realized that his prior career path was something he didn’t want to do anymore. “I was soul-searching, trying to figure out what I should do next. Teaching became one of those careers I always thought about and it presented the opportunity to go into it,” he said.

Coloma gave advice to future teachers saying get to know students first. This helps him become a better teacher. He also said to be organized because teaching isn’t just standing in front of students and having a lesson already prepared. “You have to understand how to assess the students and to check in with them so you can make sure that they know what you’re saying. It’s not just about building relationships but making sure that students are understanding the subject and aren’t only memorizing what you’re saying,” said Coloma.

Talking about his struggles pursuing his teaching career, Coloma said there are a lot of tests that go into becoming a teacher that he needed to complete. Also picking a subject that he wants to teach and finalizing it can be difficult because there are so many subjects. There are many different grade levels. “The struggle is settling on that and figuring that out. Then finally being in a classroom and understanding what teaching actually is in real life. Trying to understand students because no student is the same and different students come with different perspectives is the struggle.” Coloma said. 

He grew up in Oak Grove, which is near Sacramento. He recently moved from Salem, Oregon to San Jose. He moved here because his wife lives here, in San Jose. Coloma got his undergraduate degree for History at Saint Mary’s College in California. He went to San Jose State to get his teaching credential. Coloma was assigned to SCHS after he completed a job interview with the district. Outside of teaching, he loves to watch movies, go hiking, camping, watching sports and going on walks with his golden-doodle Leia. He is also a huge Marvel and Disney fan. 

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