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Mesa-based life skills teacher wins Gaydos and Chad’s teacher tribute

(Photo provided by Billy Cesolini)

PHOENIX — A Gilbert Public Schools teacher who works with special needs students has been named KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show’s Pay Tribute to a Teacher winner for April, presented by Your Valley Toyota Dealers.

Billy Cesolini teaches life skills at Desert Ridge Junior High School in Mesa.

His students participate in a variety of multisensory activities such as art class, library and jazz band, allowing them to become more involved in the school community.

“A lot of them are medically fragile,” Cesolini said. “It’s a wide range of things, a lot of them this year are non-verbal and non-ambulatory.”

Just this past year, through research and observation, Cesolini learned one of his students is able to communicate using his chin.

When Cesolini discovered this, he purchased a bubbler machine for his student. The student would hit a switch on the machine with his chin that would then activate the bubbles.

“We’re able to go ‘turn on now’ and ‘turn off’ and he’s able to use that whereas at the beginning of the year he wasn’t able to do that,” Cesolini said.

Celebrating these little, independent tasks is something Cesolini will always be fond of.

His capability of only seeing his students’ abilities and always placing their educating as his top priority prompted a parent’s nomination for the $2,500 prize.

Recently, Mr. Cesolini, “nominated our son to be a school ambassador, meaning, paired with a gen ed student. He will welcome and give tours to new, incoming students,” the boy’s parents wrote in a letter. “That in itself is incredible.”

He has purchased many school supplies and new learning devices out of his own pocket “to ensure his students have the best education,” the letter writer said.

He plans on placing a portion of the money back into the classroom and to treating his mother to a dine-in restaurant experience while on their day trip to Prescott.

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