Newsletter Issue 8: 9/17/08
SpecialQuest Birth–Five Newsletter
Relationships, relationships, relationships.
A key value of the SpecialQuest approach to professional development is relationships. Fostering a sense of belonging, developing trust, and demonstrating respect for different perspectives are essential to building and maintaining effective, sustainable, collaborative relationships.
SpecialQuest Birth-Five is broadening our relationships to include those who work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers; more community partners; and individuals working at the state level. In this newsletter you'll read about how graduate teams are sustaining the Quest by bringing in new partners and how State Leadership Teams are bringing the Quest to new systems.
SpecialQuest lost a dear friend yesterday. This issue is dedicated to the memory of Ellie Valdez-Honeyman. Ellie's articulate and passionate voice for children and adults with disabilities will continue to be heard through her many activities, including several SpecialQuest videos.
Spotlight: Taking SpecialQuest to the Community
"The process fostered frank discussion. New ideas about who should be at the table emerged."
Eleven community members from Havre, Montana gathered to discuss their community's perceptions of inclusive practices. Kathy Leeds, SpecialQuest Ambassador, facilitated the discussion among the group which included a parent of children with disabilities and service providers from several health and education agencies.
"The process brought about the realization that parents were being left out. We need to include the parents." --Supervisor
During this process the parent shared that due to pool policies, her children, who have disabilities, were not allowed to use the city pool.
"The story about the city pool has been haunting me...we have to do something." --Administrator
Spurred to action by the parent's story, the group set their sights on creating a fully inclusive community.
Their first step will be to conduct a community-wide survey to learn how everyone in the community perceives inclusion, not just those in health and education. And, as a result of their reflective process, they will include families of children who have disabilities in each step toward creating an inclusive community.
Kathy Leeds is a SpecialQuest Ambassador and Early Intervention Supervisor for Quality Life Concepts, Inc. in Havre, Montana. Kathy participated on the Northern Montana Child Development Center SpecialQuest team.
Mapping Our Communities
We all know that inclusion is a complex process requiring active involvement by many people. Sometimes we don't know much about our partners and what they do, and sometimes we don't even know who our partners should be. By using a tool such as Community Mapping, we can identify our partners and also assess how well we know each other and how we work together.
Many of the State Leadership Teams have used the state-level version of Community Mapping as they develop and implement their Action Plans regarding cross-sector, statewide systems of professional development for inclusion. Missouri's State Leadership Team adapted the state-level version of Community Mapping and have posted their version in the SpecialQuest Resource Bank.
Additional resources (including a video) related to building collaborative community relationships are currently being featured on the SpecialQuest website.
Susan Stewart will join Pam Winton, George Gotto, and Judy Swett for a pre-conference session about Communities of Practice.
Linda Brekken will facilitate two panel presentations.
"I use a checklist or other tool when planning for including a/my child with a disability in an early care and education program."
A Message from Our Funder
Please plan to attend the Office of Head Start National Dual Language Institute: A Time for Action, October 28-31, 2008, in Washington, DC.