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Gareth Beague-Felix

Special Education Teacher Used Patience and Love

By Samantha Weiss

Retiree: Gareth Beague Felix

Title: Keene's Crossing ES Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) teacher

Years with OCPS: 18

OCPS Retirement Date: June 30, 2023

Gareth Beague Felix knew as a teenager that teaching was her calling. In fact, she called it “divine guidance or intuition.”

“One day, my twin sister and I were walking in the hallway at Brooklyn College. At the time we were 18 years old,” Felix explained. “As we passed by a door that said: ‘Education Department,’ we looked at each other and we just knew that was our calling. I cannot explain it.”

Cairo stickerNow after 18 years of teaching with OCPS, Felix will retire on June 30. 

Born in Haiti, Felix moved to the United States when she was 12. She attended Brooklyn College in New York where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master’s of Science in Education specializing in Emotionally Disturbed Children.

She lived in New York and Miami before moving to Central Florida. She joined OCPS in 2005, teaching students with varying exceptionalities at Pine Hills ES. In 2014, she moved to Keene’s Crossing ES to be a Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) teacher.

As she reflects on her time with OCPS, Felix recalled some of her favorite memories. One of her most cherished memories was when a parent invited her to the high school graduation of one of her former students.

This student had autism spectrum disorder, and Felix had been his ESE teacher from kindergarten to fifth grade. It had been seven years since she saw him and said the expression on his face was priceless. 

“Due to his disability, he did not like to have any physical contact with others. He was not the type to give hugs, but on that day, he hugged me,” Felix said.

Another favorite memory of hers was when a student who was transitioning to middle school wrote her a letter to thank her for always being there. 

Centerwell“In her letter, she wrote how much she loved me and that I was like the mother she never had. That was very touching.”

Another parent asked Felix to record a video congratulating her son on his high school graduation because Felix “had made such a difference in her son’s life as his teacher.” 

Felix has always believed in the importance of good self-esteem. One of her most inspirational moments was when a second-grade student, who had no friends and had always been shy, became a fluent reader.

“As soon as his self-esteem increased, he did something that I will never forget!” she said. “One day, as we were reading in class, he raised his hand to read. His classmates were excited about what they saw. Gradually, he started to volunteer more and even made some friends.”

Felix believes that her patience and love have been instrumental in contributing to her students’ success. While she admits that dealing with special needs students can be tough, her ability to teach them to be patient and to believe in themselves helps in the classroom.

“By being persistent, they have become successful,” she said. “I have been their cheerleader when they experience failure and have been there after school to provide tutoring sessions to help bring their grades up. I have been their counselor to encourage them to go further and build their self-esteem.”

As she prepares to leave her classroom behind, Felix said she enjoyed her many years with OCPS because of the great people she worked with, who were not just co-workers, but more like family. 

In retirement, Felix’s schedule will be full. She said she wants to get a degree in music and take guitar and singing lessons, “since I am going to have more free time to charm my husband.”

AlbuquerqueMost importantly, she wants to start a music group at a nursing home to keep the elderly entertained!

“This is something I have been contemplating since I was in college when I was sent to a nursing home to do community work,” Felix said. “I met a very lonely elderly woman who never received any visitors, and ever since, I decided that I will make sure that I make a difference.”

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