This is the season of being thankful and grateful, and I am indeed feeling both. I am excited to begin a new adventure and bring you resources for Learning Differently. As a passionate educator in the field of special education, I know there are so many amazing resources out there in the many avenues that encompass this field. With today’s world of connectivity I hope to bring them to one central location for you to see, hear, and hopefully collaborate with to better the world of learning for all students. Embracing the idea that all learning is different can empower, engage and encompass all students to be come stronger and more confident.
The idea of this site, while new, is not without it’s own path and I want to acknowledge those who lead my own learning differently adventure. I first thank Mr. Goad for making me write a career report in 8th grade, my topic: Teaching the Deaf. This paper, inspired by my mother who had taught the deaf, led to the first steps of my passion today. I thank Mary Ellen Diana for allowing me to volunteer at a local hospital’s rehab program for preschool special needs students. I am forever indebted to Professor Peggy Sheridan of Connecticut College. She embraced my passion, and fostered my learning opportunities in just about every field of special education so I could experience and grow to work with all learners. I thank Sarah, who was a student I worked one-on-one with while finishing my masters. Sarah had Angelman Syndrome, and made me work extremely hard but made me value the work I got to do each day and always could make me smile. She has always held a special place in my heart. To Rozi Khakpour, my final cooperating teacher, who gave me such guidance and advice that I knew I could embrace the non-categorical classroom challenges. She taught me patience and persistence and led by amazing example. To Dr. Judith Thompson, former principal of Garfield Elementary, who despite knowing the challenges of the non-categorical classroom, saw my work, and believed in this first year teacher to hire her despite herself. (and thank you to both she, Rozi, Mrs. Ellis my classroom aide, and Julie Schwartzman for without you all, I would not have made it through that year.) To Bret Busby and Reggie Wagstaff for your friendships helped me through the years of Westland High School. And to Brian, who I had my first year there, who taught me the power of perseverance, for despite the learning and other challenges, succeeded with hard work in 1998 to become the first in his family to graduate high school. To Dr. Mark Griffin and Dave Sylvestro for opening my eyes to the ways of Eagle Hill, to Len Tavormina for making it possible for me not to have to go back to public school, but to find Eagle Hill closer to home. To Patti Provoost for reminding me daily of what that Eagle Hill way is. To Ben Powers, Theresa Collins, and Jamie Martin, for helping me see that I wasn’t crazy to think remediation and technology could go hand in hand. To #PLN (Personal and Professional Learning Network) for through #edtechchat, #satchat, #sunchat, #atchat, #isedchat, #caisct, #BFC530 and all the other connections through social media, Edcamps, and interactions you all inspire me daily and provide the ideas, the discussions, the laughs and the motivations to move outside my comfort zone. And to all the students who I have had the privilege to grow with, work with and learn from…this site is for you.
I also thank my parents, for you may not always agree with me, you believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. To my brothers who have been amazing sounding boards and inspirers.
Most of all to my husband who is on this crazy adventure with me, and is the most supportive person to my passion, and insanity. He is my rock, my cheerleader, and I couldn’t take this on without him.
Lastly to Errol St. Clarie Smith…for saying “hey I have an idea”…and to be that spark that finally put in place the path with the idea to create a podcast, that led to the idea of this site, a place that embraces learning differently, so that all students can be served in a way that is for them.
I hope you will find as the site develops, you will find the resources, the supports, the connections that will help you as parents, as educators, as learners, as people who care about the opportunity for students to learn as they should.