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President's Letter April 2022

3 Apr 2022 7:28 PM | Laura Foody (Administrator)

Dear NEALS Members and Supporters,

It seemed like winter would never end, and yet April and spring have arrived!

I wanted to take this opportunity to invite you to our Annual Member Conference which is being held online Thursday, April 7th, and Friday, April 8th.  Planning for this year has been challenging (due to the ebb and flow of COVID), but I am so very pleased to invite you all to events that will enhance your practice, invigorate your mind, and renew your joy in working with students and colleagues.  

I am so excited to have Dr. Chris Thurber present on two amazing topics:

Successful Advocacy:

Easy Ways to Make Difficult Conversations Highly Effective

Advocating for young people should be easy for Learning Specialists, right? You’re the invited expert, everyone wants what’s best for the child, and you’re sharing practical solutions. Yet advocacy can be surprisingly challenging for a host of reasons. Stakeholders—including Learning Specialists—may not agree on what’s possible. To bolster your efforts, this engaging workshop will introduce three specific tools to your advocacy toolbox: Radical Empathy, Appreciative Inquiry, and Motivational Interviewing. With practice, each will become a powerful asset in every future difficult conversation.

Equanimity Essentials:

Five Keys to Professional and Personal Thriving

Self-care is the sine qua non of caring for others. Yet home and work responsibilities often eclipse personally restorative practices. This inspiring workshop will review the foundations of self-care before challenging participants to employ five different hacks that transform self-care wishes into self-care realities. For example, you’ll learn how to become one of the 9% of people who actually follow through on their New Year’s resolution. After all, you know how and why to take care of yourself. Now it’s time to embrace durable solutions to the perennial predicament of finding a healthy work-life balance.

A little more about Dr. Thurber:

Dr. Christopher Thurber is an award-winning writer and thought leader who has dedicated his professional life to improving how adults care for kids and to enhancing the experience of

adventurous young people who are spending time away from home. A graduate of Harvard and UCLA, Dr. Thurber has served as a psychologist and instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy since 1999.

An entrepreneur from a young age, Dr. Thurber founded Prep4School.com and Prep4Camp.com to teach young people how to prevent intense homesickness and make joyful, successful transitions to boarding school and summer camp. One of his first Prep4 videos won a Telly Award for best Non-Broadcast Instructional Video.

His best-selling family resource, The Summer Camp Handbook, was recently translated into

Mandarin to help launch the youth camping movement in China. And his most recent book, The Unlikely Art of Parental Pressure, was described by The Atlantic as “a tour de force” and “the rare parenting book that respects both parents and children.”

Schools, camps, and forward-thinking organizations on five continents have invited Dr. Thurber to deliver keynotes, contribute articles, and lead workshops for all audiences. He and his wife, Simonida, are the proud parents of two boys (Danilo, b. 2002, and Sava, b. 2004). You can learn more about Chris and access premium content on DrChrisThurber.com.

I am also excited to incorporate mindfulness into our event.  Marie Nagode, my colleague at Dedham Country Day School, will lead us in a mindful meditation break during the lunch break.  Marie teaches yoga and mindfulness to youth and adults beautifully.  I always feel better after spending time with Marie.  I welcome you to learn how wonderful Marie is! Marie will be presenting at AISNE’s Health and Wellness Conference in May, and we are so lucky to have her work with NEALS.

There are also opportunities to network and relax.  We will even be raffling off books (thank you Dr. Thurber and Susan Cole Ross for the books)! I hope you can join us for all or part of our conference.

I am proud that NEALS has been able to deliver such high-quality programming to its members over the past two years.  If you are not a member, I welcome you to join us.  NEALS welcomes learning specialists, special educators,  and other allied professionals.  Whether in person or online, NEALS continues to live up to its mission:

Promoting​ ​professional development​ ​for​ ​learning​ ​specialists​

Creating community through​ ​collaboration,​ ​support,​ ​and​ ​advocacy

I hope to see you online Thursday evening and Friday!


Laura Foody

NEALS President

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