New Career Leads to New Music Opportunities for Special Needs Students

Teresa Habib, ‘15 (School of Education), says music bridges a communication gap for students who face learning difficulties. She completed Regent University’s School of Education’s Career Switchers program to become a music teacher in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Now’s she teaming up with friends to make music more accessible to students with special needs.

“I think that music brings happiness, no matter who you are,” said Habib. “For kids, it’s so natural. It’s so organic, you just can’t beat it. No matter what their disability is, no matter if it’s physical or mental, it’s a way for them to be heard or enjoy themselves or find a moment of happiness.”

Habib is co-founder of RavensWay an organization that seeks to provide music opportunities for any audience. Autism presented obstacles for one of her friend’s daughters, Raven, to attend and experience a concert in public. RavensWay is removing these obstacles for special needs students by hosting music workshops twice per month at the Attucks Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia.

“RavensWay offers a safe harbor for music for them,” said Habib. “They can be themselves. They can run around. They can scream and shout. It’s a totally safe harbor. We target the families that have these kids who don’t get to go out and enjoy the music culture because of their disabilities, and we bring it to them. It’s also a Christian-based concept. That’s why Regent is a good supporter to have. We will go to churches that have a special education population and bring our own musicians to those churches and have an hour with those kids.”

Habib says music is her life. Her husband and son both play instruments. She picked up the flute at age eight and is a classically trained flutist. She earned a psychology degree and was considering a career in guidance counseling. After years of military and music experience, she turned to Regent’s Career Switcher program to redirect her path toward music education.

“I don’t think I could have passed the Praxis without the Career Switcher program because, even though I am a professional musician, I don’t have college credits for music,” said Habib. “I have 25 years of experience in music. I’ve already punched that box. Regent’s Career Switcher program bridges that gap between going back to school, especially for military, having all of these experiences. It gives you all of the curriculum you need to be successful in the classroom.”

Habib’s husband also used Regent’s Career Switcher program to change his career. His experience drew her to Regent to earn her Master of Education degree and also complete the Career Switcher program to earn her teacher licensure.

“I switched to Regent classes, and I love the environment here,” said Habib. “I love the teachers. The environment is so healthy. The professors cared. The other students were respectful. We could talk about anything without anyone becoming offended. You don’t get that kind of climate everywhere with other adults. Regent just spoke to me. It felt like home. It felt like where I was happy to be, spending two years of my life.”

Habib is thankful for the support she has received from her professors at Regent and plans to recreate this sort of nurturing and caring environment with RavensWay. The organization is pulling talent together to present a fundraising concert in October.

Find out more about Regent’s Career Switcher program and the School of Education.