I attended the Southwest TJEd Forum yesterday! It was really wonderful! I was SO excited that Angela Baker came to speak to us! (I have a podcast from when she spoke last year at the SLC Forum and I think she's wonderful!) She was absolutely as wonderful in person as she was on my Zune! I learned A LOT! A TON! This was my second year of attending the forum and it gave me a great boost of confidence, energy and excitement in my endeavors regarding leadership education. (I will share my notes another day this week!)
I want to share an "A-ha!" moment that occurred yesterday! At the very end of the whole thing, there was some time left for questions. I hesitated to ask, but felt my heart pounding and knew that I had an important question and this was my chance to get an answer "from the top." I raised my hand and said "As the mother of special needs children, it's a very lonely road to walk. The conversation that I am always having in my mind, goes back and forth between wanting to inspire my children to reach their potential, but wondering if I am expecting too much from them sometimes. I would like to know what kind of support is out there, for Leadership Education with special needs kids?" The TJEdspecial site was mentioned, but I told them that I didn't find it to be very active. Some of my fellow TJEd-er's agreed with me about that. I told everyone that maybe I will have to jump on there and get it going a little. Angela Baker answered my question and both she and Dr. Schulthies said that there is not any sort of support group for special needs kids in the leadership education community, that they know of, besides the TJEdspecial site. That answer was hard to take for two reasons:
1. I was pretty sure that's the answer I was going to get, and it was discouraging to once again feel that lonliness.
2. I knew that if that was the answer I got, that I was going to need to do something about it and that it wasn't going to be easy.
So...I write today, to tell you that while I don't exactly know what this is going to look like or how it will be manifested, this blog is going to change gears ever so slightly. While I will still write about our family and our journey through leadership education, while I will still treasure the relationships that I have with each of my friends and readers (I hope you'll stick around...I LOVE you all!), I am going to ask you to do something for me. Would you be willing to help me build a support system for families who are faced with the unique challenges and blessings of special needs? I don't want to do this alone! I want to find others who understand that the special needs conveyor belt ( the public school system) is many times, beneath the amazing potential of our children. I want to network with families who are teaching the principles contained in A Thomas Jefferson Education to their special needs (and typically developing) children, and who understand the unique dynamics presented in doing so. I want to continue my relationships with each of you who add priceless knowledge and wisdom to my journey, while also building new relationships with families who "get" the special needs thing. In short, I want to network, uplift and encourage others who are in the "same boat", and I want to receive the same uplift and encouragement from them! Can you help me to do this?
As I have pondered my mission, it has always revolved around my children. Most mothers would probably say the same thing, but for me, my vision of my mission extends beyond the usual motherly experience. My vision for my mothering years, extends beyond that of what mothers who are raising "typically developing" children might see. I have a pretty good inkling that at least one, possibly two of our children will grace us with their presence throughout life. I am honored and a bit discouraged at the same time. It's very hard to dream for a child when their future is not clear. Who knows what will really happen? This is just what I am feeling right now! Leadership Education for a special needs child, looks a bit different than the "norm". So, I'd like to get a group of families together, who would like to walk this road with me! I'll share what I've learned and eagerly listen as other families share what they've learned as well! And the beautiful part is, we'll be able to walk this road together!