– The Mission –
To change the status quo in schools. What if? What if in schools we stopped labeling students? Special education, regular education, gifted. What do they all mean anyway? My favorite label we use is exceptional. Isn’t every child exceptional? We have created labels as a way to help us better understand children, and let’s be honest, as a way to try to find help for those children for whom learning is a complicated process.
But what if we have been getting it all wrong? We still are looking for special education to be the answer for our learners who are complicated. And it is not. Not for lack of a large group of dedicated educators who give their all every day to make a difference. It is because of a system that requires that a child fails. Let’s stop asking children to fail to meet the standard to get specialized help. Let’s hear teachers when they say, “I need help to meet the needs of this learner”.
Challenging the Status Quo for Students is an opportunity to hear how a number of school districts have embraced the challenge to remodel the structure and attain higher literacy standards for young learners. It all started in one small school, in rural Maine. In one year, the school transformed into a place where 90% of students met literacy proficiency before entering 1st grade. They have continued to meet that standard every year. From that one rural school, it has spread to over 35 schools and beyond just kindergarten. Over the past five years, over 10,000 students have been impacted by a new way of designing instruction. Special education referrals are declining with rapid rate, as much as 68%, because children are not failing. In one year, this transformation can happen in any school with every circumstance.
– The Journey –
A passion for working with exceptional children began at a young age for Carrie. Starting at the age of nine, Carrie worked with students on the autism spectrum and continued tutoring students with learning disabilities throughout her academic career. From these early experiences, a career was inspired. With over 25 years in education, as a classroom teacher, special educator and Director of Pupil Services, Carrie is well known for her ability to engage the most challenging learner. After years working in this capacity, she and her husband, Micah found themselves raising a child of her own with unique needs.