Roger Armijo – Spectrum Academy

Dec 8, 2015, 10:23 PM | Updated: Jan 15, 2021, 6:11 am

Mr. Armijo is the Physical Education teacher at Spectrum Academy in Pleasant Grove. Spectrum Academy is our 12-year-old son’s fourth school. Erik is now in 7th grade and has been diagnosed with Autism, severe depression, anxiety disorder, and ADHD. He has always struggled in social situations. School has always been especially difficult for him. He has told me on many occasions that the teachers don’t like him and that he doesn’t have any friends. I was just supposed to accept that he would never have friends and he would never do well in school, according to him. The school has been a Godsend for our son and our entire family. Erik’s growth has been immeasurable since the school opened there last year.

I attribute his success to many of the teachers at Spectrum Academy, but Mr. Armijo in particular, has played an influential role in Erik’s life. In past years, Erik has not even tried to participate in physical education. He worried that the kids were after him in soccer, kids were out to hurt him and only him in dodgeball, he had no confidence in basketball or baseball. Group activities have been incredibly difficult for him because he doesn’t like being touched or anyone in his “bubble” (what we would call our personal space). Needless to say, we gave up on PE long ago. In fact, he spent his PE class with the principal, secretaries, or the librarian at the last school. They were his best friends.

At the same time, he also spent all of his recesses and ate his lunch with the same group of people, the principals, the secretaries, and the librarians. He was terrified of being in a group and always felt bullied or threatened. I was devastated that Erik had no friends, no peers to share his interests with at school. He acted out in class since he felt so lonely and frustrated. His teachers didn’t understand his diagnoses (Autism, severe depression, anxiety, and ADHD). They, understandably, didn’t know how to integrate this “difficult child” into their day. This lead to a spiral for our son. He lost his confidence, he missed out on friendships, activities, and extracurricular activities no matter how hard we tried to help him.

Mr. Armijo came into the picture last year as Erik’s PE teacher and Advisory teacher. The Advisory teacher is there to help each child at Spectrum feel connected and be a resource for the parents and child. The first week Erik wouldn’t even go into the gym from the hallway. Mr. Armijo didn’t push, he just made sure that he was safe and okay. Over time, he got him to come into the gym, but not much further than the front door. Before we knew it, he got Erik involved. Erik smiled a little more and became the kid that couldn’t wait for Friday – DODGEBALL DAY! Mr. Armijo identified kids that Erik seemed to relate well with and put them together often so that they could form relationships. Guess what! Erik was invited to three birthday parties this year – we haven’t had any invitations for more than 4 years. When I asked him at the end of the school year who his best friend was that year he replied, “I don’t have a best friend. I just have a bunch of good friends, Mom.”

He is the only teacher that I have ever seen Erik warm up to this way. He was so excited to see him at Back to School Night and gave him a hug. He knows that he can talk to him if he is ever feeling unsafe, stressed, or upset. Mr. Armijo obviously loves our son. He provides a place for him to de-stress when he has had a hard time in any of his classes. He gives Erik an opportunity to serve by allowing him to help clean up the gym, something that is not intuitive for someone with Autism, but Erik is doing it and gets such a sense of pride from helping his teacher. He watches for him and contacts me if something doesn’t seem quite right. These things seem to be a given for any teacher-student relationship, but when you have a child with Autism and the challenges Erik has, it is exponentially harder to create these relationships. Mr. Armijo is a natural with our son and it brings me to tears to watch them together.

We are incredibly grateful for Mr. Armijo for giving Erik the confidence he has needed to grow academically, emotionally, and behaviorally. I hope that you consider him for this award because his efforts have changed our son’s life in an unbelievable way, in a way that I don’t think we will ever be able to quantify.

–Tonya Edvalson

Today’s Top Stories

provo police car is pictured, the department is investigation a hit-and-run...
Samantha Herrera

21-year-old woman killed in Provo hit-and-run

21-year-old Isabelle Parr was identified as the victim of a hit-and-run in Provo on Thursday. Police believe she was hit while jogging.
13 hours ago
lake effect snow really did a number on the wasatch front this morning...
Jennifer Gray, CNN meteorologist

Back-to-back winter storms bring heavy snow, critical fire conditions to the West

Two winter storms in less than a week will bring more than a foot of snow to the mountains, wind gusts of over 70 mph leading to the possibility of a wall of dust and the high danger of fire to the central and western US.
13 hours ago
Erin mendenhall and two men are pictured at a podium speaking about crime statistics in salt lake...
Samantha Herrera

Project Safe Neighborhoods successfully lowering crime according to Salt Lake leaders

Crime in Salt Lake City has been the focus of Project Safe Neighborhoods for the past two years. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall praised the project.
13 hours ago
Utah's film festival...
Elizabeth Weiler

Utah’s film festival screens an all-Utah cast for Marylin Monroe film

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Aa film with an all-Utah cast and crew  has been selected by Utah’s Film Festival for a screening, part of the festival’s monthly screening series.  “Marilyn Monroe’s Last Press Conference”, is an independent film written and directed by Frank H. Cutler of Thunderbolt Alley Productions. According to Thunderbolt Alley Film, the […]
13 hours ago
Low water is pictured at the Great Salt Lake and a new bill is aiming to study the lake...
Dan Bammes

Senate passes Romney-sponsored bill to fund Great Salt Lake study

A bill to study the Great Salt Lake passed through the Senate with a unanimous vote on Wednesday. The bill would provide $5 million per year in funding.
13 hours ago
Help wanted sign is displayed in Deerfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.  The number of availab...
Alicia Wallace, CNN Business

US economy added a robust 263,000 jobs in November

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%, according to the latest monthly jobs snapshot from the Labor Department, released Friday morning.
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Roger Armijo – Spectrum Academy