What’s Your Major? Special Education and Performing Arts


DJ Piper, a member of Wheelock College’s Class of 2017, is majoring in Special Education and Performing Arts.

Combining Special Education and Performing Arts

After graduation, DJ wants to teach second grade, ideally in an autism-inclusive classroom. “I chose Special Education as my major because I worked with a student in high school with autism spectrum disorder and there’s this whole idea of normalcy,” he says. “When I looked at this student–or any student with special needs–that word just kind of gets thrown out….When you think about you or I, there is no normal….Every child, every human is a unique individual and, special needs or not, that child is a child before anything else.”

Since his first year at Wheelock, DJ has been part of Wheelock Family Theatre’s box office team, doing everything from answering phones to handling patron relations. He currently serves as the theatre’s House Manager, an experience that has shown him how his classroom studies apply in the real world. “[Wheelock Family Theatre] is all about creating a space for families,” DJ says, noting that the theatre’s focus on inclusion means it offers accommodations for kids with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities. “It’s really great to see what I’ve been learning up on stage,” he says.

Special Education at Wheelock College

The demand for special education teachers is growing rapidly. Inclusive classrooms, teacher education reforms requiring specialized training, and legislative initiatives for improved education and care have all contributed to this demand. Wheelock has a long tradition of preparing skilled and creative teachers who are passionate about making achievement possible for all children.

The program combines theory and research with hands-on experience and practical skills. The curriculum emphasizes social justice, and we are committed to equity for all children in our multicultural society.