Voices from the Field: Interview with Ann Sam

Ann Sam

 

ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?

During my undergraduate work, I completed an internship at the University of North Carolina’s TEACCH Autism Program. From this experience, I knew I wanted to work with individuals with autism. I began my career as an inclusive preschool and kindergarten public school teacher. As a teacher, I was unaware of many specific interventions or resources used to support the social, language, and behavioral skills of students with autism. Fueled by my desire to support students with autism in classrooms, as well as the teachers serving those students, I began my doctoral program in 2008 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I was fortunate to be funded through an Office of Special Education Program leadership grant: Interdisciplinary Preparation in Teaching, Research, and Service focused on Young Children with Autism and Their Families. When I graduated, I accepted a postdoctoral research position at 3C Institute, a small business that focuses on research and development. After completing my postdoctoral work, I returned to the University of North Carolina as a Research Scientist at Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute. At FPG, my work focuses on supporting the use of evidence-based practices for children with autism using a variety of professional development approaches including coaching and interactive, online modules.

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OSEP Releases Fast Facts on Children With Disabilities Aged 3 through 5

OSEP Fast Fact on Children With Disabilities Aged 3 through 5

By the Office of Special Education Program

OSEP is pleased to introduce our newly released Fast Fact focusing children with disabilities aged 3 through 5 served under Part B, section 619 of the IDEA.

For the OSEP Fast Facts: Children 3 through 5 Served Under IDEA Part B Section 619 we present data from the data collections authorized under IDEA section 618 including that collected through child count and educational environments.

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Barbara Cooper

Alabama’s Support for Dual Language Learners

Barbara Cooper

Dr. Barbara Cooper is Secretary of Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education

ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?

I was called to serve as an educator over 30 years ago and have worked across the entire birth to workforce continuum. On July 1, 2020 I was appointed Secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. Previously, I served as the ADECE Director of the office of school readiness where I administered the nationally recognized high-quality Alabama First Class Pre-K program, which has been recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research as the highest quality state-funded pre-kindergarten program in the country for 14 consecutive years.

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OSEP 2020 New Discretionary Grant Awards

In fiscal year 2020, OSERS’ Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provided over $71.7 million to fund programs that help educate children and youth with disabilities to assist states, local districts and other organizations to improve results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21.

Please read about these programs below.

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Charting the Path to Every Child Reading

NOTE: October is Learning Disabilities (LD)/Dyslexia/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness (ADHD) Month.

Amy and Olivia Traynor

Amy Traynor, OTR, M.A., ATP, National Center for Learning Disabilities Texas Parent Advisory Council Lead

“Livvy speak” is the endearing term coined for the innocent one-off names or descriptions spoken by my daughter, Olivia, when she was in preschool. We adored it and rarely corrected her.

As a pediatric occupational therapist (OT), I recognized that all children, even siblings, develop differently. It didn’t surprise me that she has done things differently than her brother and they have approached “life” differently from the other.

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We Can Do Virtually Anything

Courtney Hansen

NOTE: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

A guest blog by Courtney Hansen, Special Education Advocate

Courtney is a non-attorney special education advocate. She advocates at the local, state, and national level for disability rights, and blogs about it at www.inclusionevolution.com


I first shared our family’s story on this blog two years ago. A lot has changed since then, although many things remain the same.

My now 8-year-old twin boys, one who has Down syndrome and the other typically developing, are still included in the same general education class. They still love playing sports together, and our family still leans on our “village” of teachers, therapists, and friends to move forward. Still, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has set us on a trajectory of change and uncertainty that often feels unsustainable.

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Laying Educational Foundations

NOTE: October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Rebecca Newlon

Rebecca Newlon

By Chris and Rebecca Newlon

When Rebecca, my daughter who has Down syndrome, began kindergarten, I never dreamed that the day-to-day hammering out of details with her general education teacher would lay the foundation we would continue to utilize to this day now that Rebecca is a junior in high school.

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Kirsten Bilderaya

A Preschool Teacher’s Perspective on the New School Year

Kirsten Bilderaya

Kirsten Bilderaya is an early childhood special education (ECSE) specialist. She works as an itinerant ECSE specialist for Adams 12 school district in Colorado at Tarver elementary school. She specializes in autism and works with two Learning Experiences—Alternative Programming for Preschoolers and Parents, for young children with Autism (LEAP) certified classrooms. In addition to working with children and teachers, she has taught parent classes for families with young children with autism, and supervises ECSE graduate students from University of Denver, and University of Colorado Denver.


ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?

I began as a classified Early Childhood Education (ECE) Group Leader in an inclusive ECE classroom. Students in the ECE program included those who had individualized education programs (IEP)s, or who had high developmental risk factors, such as adverse childhood experiences, poverty, family separation, or English as a second language. After the fall semester, I decided this was the career I wanted to pursue and started the Master’s program in Early Childhood Education at the University of Colorado Denver. When I completed the program, I became a licensed early childhood special educator.

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Mona Qafisheh

Power to the Early Childhood Education Profession

Mona Qafisheh

Mona serves as the director of grants and contracts with the Association for Supportive Child Care which provides early childhood coaching, assessment, and professional development to early childhood professionals, and education for family, friends, and neighbor caregivers and families. Mona’s role includes supporting the organization through the granting lifecycle from identification of potential funding through reporting. Mona also serves as the president-elect for the Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children.


ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood education?

My career in early childhood education began like many others’ have. When I was 19, I needed a job and the only place that would hire me was a child care center. I worked as a camp counselor for 9 and 10-year olds through high school and figured working with toddlers would be a piece of cake. Spoiler alert: working with toddlers isn’t a piece of cake! But it was the most rewarding job I’ve ever had and inspired my love for young children and began my now almost 20-year commitment to them and their families. Also, like many of my peers in early childhood I began my career with a few college credits and was barely able to make ends meet financially. Those early teaching years have made me an advocate for high quality infant and toddler care, livable wages, and accessible, affordable higher education for early childhood educators who are often non-traditional students.

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Justin Brown

A Father’s Engagement

Justin Brown

Justin Brown is an adoptive father of a 4-year-old boy, and a foster father to two 2-year-old boys. He works as a youth minister for St. Agnes Parish in Dalton, MA and is the co-director of Camp Holy Cross in Goshen, MA. Justin first became involved in early intervention when his 4-year-old was referred for services at 18-months-old. He has become a strong advocate for the strengths and needs of his children and enjoys wrestling, cooking, and going for walks with them.

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