Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thank a Mentor

This blog post is dedicated to someone who has had a profound impact on my skills as an assistive and educational technology consultant.

In 1990, I worked with a high school student who had neurofibromatosis which caused multiple strokes resulting in paralysis and limited vision. Working with Chris was the first opportunity I had to use technology to promote learning and independence with a student. We tried software that enlarged the text and allowed him to hear information read to him. We explored software that predicted the word he would type based upon an initial letter. He could create on his own once he was set up at the computer. No more depending upon adults to scribe for him.

This was fantastic! I was hooked!

Thus began my personal oddyssey to learn as much as I could about technology for students with disabilities. There had to be a graduate program that would extend my learning. I specifically looked for a program which emphasized assistive technology. None were to be found in my area, so I put my plans on hold and continued to seek out professional development and learned as much as I could on my own. In 1999, I learned about a new degree program offered through Simmons College under the leadership of Madalaine Pugliese. This was exactly what I was searching for! My prayers were answered!

I applied and graduated with the first class of AT graduates. I am who I am today because of the vision, energy and determination of Mads to create a program from its inception. She is my hero and my mentor. She continues to challenge my thinking to this day. In addition, her development of the STAGES framework for working with children with language and cognitive challenges provided a format for assessment, documenting change over time and access to the curriculum. For Mads, it is ALWAYS about the student FIRST!

I want to publicly acknowledge Mads for all that is now possible for me because of her efforts. It is with deep gratitude that I say "Thank you, Mads, my mentor and my friend. You are truly a pioneer."

Is there someone in your life who challenged you, who caused you to see things in a new way, who motivated you to pursue excellence? If so, I encourage you to take this opportunity to Thank A Mentor today.

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Madalaine Pugliese said...

Karen, I feel humbled by your most kind words and, truly, I LEARN as much from you every single time I hear you talk and/or read this blog. Karen, you are a great mentor so I'd like to say "back at ya"! Mads

assistive technology said...

This is very touching. And the comment above me, I think that it's true. The best way to learn is to teach.

Samuel said...

Karen, Many of us echo your works, specifically about Mads. I am so thankful not only for her hard work building such an excellent forum for learning and teaching, but for her deep care and encouragement of us as teachers. It has made a huge difference in my life as well.

Mary Yankowski said...


Mads sounds like an incredible person and I thank her for training you and thus you sharing your knowledge with me! I look forward to learning more and more.....