David Bustamante earns TOY finalist spot in Elite Eight

Special education teacher makes it to regional finals for teacher of the year

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David Bustamante earns TOY finalist spot in Elite Eight

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Special education teacher David Bustamante was named the campus Teacher of the Year on Feb. 19. Bustamante was in shock when his name was announced. More good news was to follow when Bustamante heard that all of his work in the classroom qualified him for the SISD Elite Eight finalists. The finalists are made up of the top four secondary school and top four elementary school teachers in the district.

“To be recognized for your hard work and effort that you do in the classroom is an honorable experience,” Bustamante said. “At the same time, it’s very humbling.”

Bustamante did not always plan on working with children diagnosed with autism. After graduating from high school, he started his military career and continued his job in the army for a total of six years. Mr. Bustamante was a Patriot Missile Operator System Mechanic, meaning he fired and fixed the weapon. After deciding to bring that career to an end, Bustamante was not entirely sure what he wanted to do next.

He then made the decision of becoming a truck driver to support and provide for his family. After eight years of driving, he went back to school and earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Accounting.

Six months later, he went back to achieve his master’s degree in Secondary Teaching Education. To complete his master’s program, Bustamante did fifteen observation hours in the special education unit at Socorro High School.

“I would attract the kids like I was a magnet,” Bustamante said. “It takes special people to work with them, so I wouldn’t trade my staff for the world because they have the same heart to work with these kids and see them progress.”

I would attract the kids like I was a magnet. It takes special people to work with them, so I wouldn’t trade my staff for the world because they have the same heart to work with these kids and see them progress.”

— David Bustamante, Elite 8 Teacher of the Year finalist

Spending time with his students every day, Bustamante said people take certain things for granted such as taking a shower or brushing their teeth.

“My goal is to see them be independent and successful members of society,” Bustamante said. “They have their struggles, like being able to socialize with people – stuff that me and you take for granted. Where they have difficulties in, that’s what I work with them for, just so they are able to do things for themselves that we take for granted.”

Bustamante will contend for the top honors at the SISD Teacher of the Year Gala April 27 in the Judson F. Williams Hall at the El Paso Convention Center.