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Community Highlights: Meet Jonathan Dumas of Strive Prep

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jonathan Dumas.

Hi Jonathan, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Thanks for having me! I currently work as a High School Special Education Teacher for STRIVE Prep SMART in Denver, Colorado. In my role, I primarily focus on creating successful inclusion for students who are considered significant support needs (SSN). I refer to my journey of becoming a teacher as a blessing in disguise. I was a student-athlete who ended up having an ACL injury and couldn’t participate in my strength and conditioning class anymore. Frustrated, I approached my advisor and was presented with the opportunity to become a peer mentor for students with disabilities. I found my passion and never looked back. In 2020, I earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education with an added certificate in Disability Studies, this is where my passion was renewed. Since then, I have approached my work with a focus on Disability Rights.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?

It will never be a smooth road. Similar to other civil rights movements, the Disability Rights movement is ongoing. People with disabilities face barriers in education, employment, independent living, and more. As an educator, I am working in a system that was not created for students with disabilities to succeed. Most institutions are built from sexist, racist, and ableist ideologies. If I conform to these ableist norms, I continue the oppression. I feel that it is part of a special educator’s job to recognize and disrupt this oppression. The most common issue I see is educators who do not presume competence for students with disabilities and this is solely based on mindset. This ableist mindset will negatively affect the services and placements the student receives. Often times, this results in segregation from non-disabled peers.

*Ableism definition – discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

Something to ponder – Disability is a group that any of us could join at any time. How is your current world set up? Would it be accessible if you became disabled?

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
STRIVE Prep is a community of charter public schools that challenges each of our students to learn to change their world. STRIVE was founded on the belief that every child deserves a high-quality education right where they live (Denver). Our mission is to meet every student where they are and empower them to succeed through college and careers. Our core beliefs are achievement, justice, and perseverance. I take pride in the justice portion as myself and my team are committed to intentionally disrupting inequity, bias, and systems of oppression.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I am the son of Ines Contreras and Normand Dumas. I was born in Denver and have three brothers (two older, one younger) who were all very active and competitive. I competed in baseball, wrestling, jiu jitsu, physique competitions and football. Fitness became a passion of mine and still is. People would describe me as cheerful, friendly and hard-working, which could be seen through my social involvement and leadership on athletic teams. My father is Deaf/hard of hearing and has been since I was a baby. Growing up he required a lot of assistance with communication. This was my first experience with disability.

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