The Special Services Division has two new managers to oversee AcCEL Programs in the Porterville and Visalia areas. In Porterville, TCOE veteran teacher Katrina Smith will take over for administrator Cathy Machado who retired this year. In Visalia, Special Services welcomes Brian Cordero who replaces Carrie Stephens. Ms. Stephens has returned to Visalia Unified as administrator of Special Education.
Katrina Smith, Porterville-Area AcCEL Programs
Ms. Smith has been in the field of special education for over 10 years. She began her career as a Resource Specialist Program (RSP) teacher before teaching within the TCOE AcCEL Program. She was most recently a teacher on special assignment for the AcCEL Program. She will be a program manager for the AcCEL Porterville area, which includes the L.B. Hill Learning Center and 15 special day classes and community based instruction programs.
Ms. Smith holds a Mild/Moderate and a Moderate/Severe Teaching Credential, an Administrative Services Credential, and a master’s degree in special education. Her younger brother attended the AcCEL program growing up and inspired her to pursue her passion to work with children with special needs.
Katrina Smith has enjoyed the shelter-in-place experience at home, spending quality time with her husband and three-month-old son.
Brian Cordero, Visalia-Area AcCEL Programs
Brian Cordero grew up in Mountain View, California and attended UCSB and UCLA. He began his career in education after graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He then enrolled in a single subject teaching credential program and quickly realized his interest was in special education. He attained his Moderate/Severe Teaching Credential from San Jose State University and began teaching his first adult transition class.
Mr. Cordero appreciates that students with special needs seek access to opportunity, equity, and the freedom to pursue their life goals and dreams. Through education, he sees an opportunity to promote these values. In the Bay Area, Mr. Cordero served as lead teacher for Project SEARCH, a vocational internship program for young adults with significant disabilities. During his years with Project SEARCH, he was also a BTSA support provider and earned his administrative credential.
In the Fall of 2018, he and his husband relocated from San Jose to the Central Valley. They live in Fresno with their dog Corby. Mr. Cordero loves to travel and ski, compete in Spartan Races, and play softball.