LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Juan Bustos

Position: Special Education Teacher
School: Judson Middle School
School District: Judson Independent School District
City, State: Converse, TX

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Juan Bustos was nominated by his colleague, Tina Hickman.

Mr. Bustos works with students who have severe autism. In his role, successes come in small doses, a trickle at a time.  Mr. Bustos never loses his positive outlook on what his students are capable of doing, and he never gives up on any student. The world is a scary place for students with autism, since things can change suddenly, whether they're receiving too much information in the form of flashing lights or sirens, or they're hyper-aware of someone wearing a particularly orange shirt. 

Mr. Bustos has established a very safe environment for his students.  He uses visual schedules to provide a consistent daily routine, and he tries to prepare his students for occasional changes in routine. Mr. Bustos uses positive reinforcement with his students when they complete an assignment or successfully respond to an unusual situation, and the reward depends on what works with that particular student.  The task varies depending upon the individual abilities of the student.  Some students are great sorters, and they get to sort by color, by size, or however they need to.  

Many students in middle school are anxious about standing out or appearing “different," and teens with autism are no different.  However, certain occurrences bother them, like the shrillness of a fire drill or the roar of chatter in the lunch room.  Mr. Bustos uses a variety a strategies, including sensory time, visual schedules, pictures, and proximity control, to instruct his students in social behaviors expected of middle school students.  By establishing consistent routines and practicing every week, Mr. Bustos’ students are able to walk quietly out of the building with the other students during fire drills.  They are calm, even with all of the noise.  For those few moments, those students look no different than their peers.  That adds to the positivity of the school environment.  

It’s easy to tell when a student with autism feels safe.  They relax, smile, and take the initiative to pull pictures out of their communication book and form a sentence to communicate their needs.  They may use their communication device to ask you to sing them a song.  Sometimes, they even give hugs.  These students know that Mr. Bustos has their back, and that they can count on him, no matter what. 


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Comments (8)


Meredith Unfried Posted 1 days ago

Mr. Bustos is an amazingly humble man. I cannot imagine a more deserving individual to be named LCOY. His compassion and kindness towards everyone is heartwarming. We are so proud to have him on our campus changing children's lives and ours!

Gloria Kolacek Posted 3 days ago

His sweet spirit was evident even in high school. As his high school librarian, I saw John as a caring person who always met me with a smile and treated everyone with kindness. I am so proud of John Bustos and the difference he is making in the lives of these students!!!!!!

Jemal Thurston Posted 3 days ago

This man is amazing. It is refreshing and encouraging to see you do what you do. You are a life changer, not just toward your students but I suspect your life has changed as well. Keep up the wonderful work you do my friend.

Debbie King Posted 7 days ago

I am beyond thrilled that you chose to join our crazy JMS family!! You are a true inspiration to all!!

Jo Ann Valadez Posted 7 days ago

Mr. Bustos, I can't tell you what an incredible, compassionate, loving man you are! You are a very unique person and I pray others can learn from you. The way you sacrifice so much and give so much reflects your passion to truly improve the quality of your students lives. You do it for the love of life. Yes, I'm proud of you!!! I love you son! Congratulations? Love, MOM

Mendi Rodriguez Posted 7 days ago

It is always heartwarming to see the true dedication of your fellow teachers. Mr. Bustos is a prime example of the impact dedicated service can have on the lives of students. Our specials needs students are lucky to have Mr. Bustos not only as their teacher but also as their mentor and advocate. He works diligently to help his students reach their full potential.

Switaj Posted 7 days ago

Keep doing what you do. You add sunshine to our kiddos every day - even when they don't know they need it.

Sharron Bailey Posted 7 days ago

I know no one who deserves it more! Juan Bustos is truly one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever worked with and I’m honored to call him a friend and coworker.