From the Executive Director:
Dear Federation family,
Twenty-five years ago, a pre-school teacher called a mother to recommend that her daughter, who was about to enter kindergarten, get evaluated because of lagging motor skills. The mom was very confused but agreed to an assessment by the school district’s pediatrician. The experts came back and told the mom that her daughter exhibited abnormally low muscle tone and recommended a number of accommodations.
The mom then entered the complexities of Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. She had little idea of what to expect and was still a little baffled by the issues identified by the pediatrician and teachers. At the first meeting, they recommended many adaptations, some in the classroom and some that would require her daughter to be taken out of the classroom.
The IEP meetings continued through elementary school. Every year there was a new meeting with a different cast of characters, more occupational and speech therapy, and different accommodations. Despite the support of a very open and welcoming school district, the mom left these meetings confused and unsure of what was best for her child. Her daughter hated the process since she felt they made her different from the other kids. However, the mom was insistent that her daughter stick with the plan. Even after her daughter moved on to junior high school, the mom still had doubts of whether she had done the right thing.
This mom is me. The girl is my younger daughter, Abby.
I did not know about the Federation at that time. But I certainly had the thirst for information and desire to do the best for my child that draws over 100,000 families each year to the Federation.
Now, I am so proud to join this vibrant and impactful organization.
Over the coming year, I look forward to working with the Federation’s staff to build our foundational programs to reach more families, particularly those underserved by the education system.
• Strive to develop best practices for family engagement.
• Mentor parents of children with special health needs.
• Recruit and train surrogate education parents for some of the most vulnerable youth in Massachusetts.
• Develop new trainings on social-emotional learning.
• Provide innovative transition programs.
• And, expand our call center to reach more parents.
The common thread through all this is supporting families to improve education, physical health, and mental health outcomes for their children.
A final note on Abby: We were told that Abby’s abnormally low muscle tone would affect her learning, her relations with peers, and her speech and general fitness. While at times the process was difficult, I greatly benefited from a dedicated school and health-care team. I benefited from my daughter, too.
Despite being warned that she would struggle throughout her life with physical endurance, after she graduated college, Abby went on to hike the entire 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail. She is now married (to her boyfriend who hiked with her) and continues to work in the outdoor recreational industry, leading trips and providing educational programs for teens. She is working toward her master’s degree in education.
As you can see, I am deeply and personally committed to the success of the Federation and the children and families it serves.