Frequently things don't go as planned.

Unexpected opportunities pop up and they can change your outlook and open up a whole new world to you.

This is what happened to Nate Naples, a teacher in a K-3 Cognitive Impairment classroom at Stone Elementary in the Saginaw Public School District.

Nate received his bachelor's degree in December 2020 from Saginaw Valley State University with certification to teach social studies to middle and high school students.

There weren't any position openings at the time, even though he was willing to go anywhere in Michigan. 

So, he decided to get his master's degree right away, and because an administrative leadership job sounded appealing, he focused on classes the classes which would help him obtain "principalship" credentials.

While in the midst of this plan, Nate accepted a position as a para-pro in a high school cognitive impairment classroom at Carrollton, a neighboring school district from where he graduated from.

This experience turned out to be a game-changer.

"I fell in love with the CI classroom right away," said Nate. "It was a combination of the environment, the pace, and the wonderful students I had the opportunity to serve. I saw great value in the one-on-one instruction and targeted approach offered there."

Today, while Nate charts a career course in an area he never dreamed of before, he has a temporary approval certificate. This allows him to teach students with developmental disabilities. 

His students at Stone Elementary face a variety of different issues such as problems with processing information, struggling with generalizing skills, autism spectrum disorder, specific learning and health disabilities, and a number of cognitive impairments. 

The students in Nate's class are eager learners and a joy to be with.

They continue to inspire and motivate him to acquire his Cognitive Impairment certificate and switch his master's degree focus to special education.

"It's a big plus to be able to stay in Saginaw too, where I grew up," Nate said.  "My wife Hannah works with kids through her position at the Child Abuse and Neglect Council and we have an infant son. I'm glad everything worked out so we can live and serve in a wonderful community like ours."