Kennedy High senior Luis Nunez is excelling at school, but not without ensuring that others who are less able than him also have a chance to succeed.
Earlier this month, Nunez received the Jake Rockeman Award, which is given by the West Contra Costa Unified School District for exemplary work with special education students.
Nunez’s dedication is undeniable. Just ask Kennedy special education teacher Salvatore Morabito, who described Nunez as “personable, hardworking, considerate of others, collaborative and extremely competent.”
“I have known Luis for over three years, the first two of which he worked out daily during lunch break in the school weight room alongside my students with severe disabilities,” Morabito said. “He was always friendly and encouraging with my students while they were training.”
At the end of the school day, Nunez helped Morabito fetch soil and other heavy materials to help special needs students build a fence around their organic vegetable garden. This year, he is Morabito’s Teacher Assistant during one period daily. He accompanies two students in their mainstream woodshop class, helping them to successfully integrate in the mainstream environment, Morabito said.
“The students are proudly excelling thanks to Luis’s mentoring,” the special ed teacher said. “Their woodshop pieces become a regular feature of ‘Show and Tell’ back in the special ed classroom, as well as at home.”
Morabito most appreciates Nunez’ ‘caring gentleness’ with young learners.
“He has proven to be especially patient and resourceful when dealing with students whose special needs and behaviors are often challenging,” the teacher said.