Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seeking Answers in 2010!

Dear Parents, Educators and Advocates:

Some time ago, Joanne Cashman, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, posed a provocative question: If transition is such a good idea, why is it so hard to do? As a former director of special education for a large school system and an instructor in George Washington University’s Teacher Preparation and Special Education Department, I believe I know one important reason that helping youth successfully transition from school to postsecondary life is so difficult. During and after high school, parents are one of the most important links in the transition process, yet parents themselves often do not have the support they need in managing the many challenges they face.

In an effort to address this challenge and to assist youth with learning differences in making successful transitions, my colleague, Doreen Fulton, decided to approach the transition process from a different angle and with a unique focus. As a mother with three young adults with learning challenges, Doreen had many people counting on her to “be there.” She knew that she had to work tirelessly and with purpose and resolve. She had to work smarter, not harder. Rather than focus on the challenges of her children, she decided to focus on her own competencies, her own resources and her desired outcome.

As a human resource professional and certified Dream Coach®, Doreen had helped countless young people to move in the direction of their dreams, to get scholarships, to find satisfying careers and to embrace their strengths and innate talents while actively supporting their peers in the transition process. She decided to use these skills to help her own children and others like them who struggled with academics. She customized the proven transition process and developed a visioning course to address the specific needs of parents and educators who were facing transition with fear and trepidation.

Knowing that dreams work best when shared, she called on me to join her in this outreach activity. Doreen and I have since collaborated to create Transition Quest: A Visioning Course for Parents, Educators and Advocates. During the past year, we have had success in reaching parents and helping them gain the support and strategies they needed to enable them to reach their own goals. This success led them to see the strength in their own children and to influence them by active engagement. Many young people seeing their parents in action joined in and eagerly explored their own options and pursued their own passions and career paths with success.

We hope that you will take a few minutes to review the course at and that you find it appropriate to share with the families you serve. We have seen that this approach provides one significant answer to making transitions work better for young people and their families.

Carie Rothenbacher and Doreen Fulton