Happy August Folx!
It is with great excitement, hope, and humility that I share with you that I have stepped into the role of President of the NEALS organization for the 2023-2024 year! My name is Chris Ouellette, and I have been involved with NEALS for nearly a decade, serving as regional and communications coordinator, vice-president of the board, and most importantly, a member.
I am about to begin my 22nd year working in the field of special education, working in public schools, and in therapeutic, alternative, and girl-centered boarding schools. I have worked in independent schools for the last 12 years and have served as a program director for the last six.
My current position is as the Inaugural Director of Learning Support and as a Learning Specialist at the girl-centered community of the Emma Willard School in Troy, NY.
My NEALS mentors are two wonderful humans who set phenomenal examples for me to learn from. Their hard work sets a high bar, and it would be impossible to detail all their accomplishments in this letter. As I watched Susan Cole Ross lead NEALS up to and through our 20th anniversary and watched Laura Foody lead us through a global pandemic and a shift to virtual programming, my admiration and respect grew. They are indeed education leaders to emulate.
The NEALS board will be holding our annual retreat in August, and we are looking forward to the following:
Getting back to being in person together regularly. One of the best parts about NEALS for me is the connections we can foster with the other humans doing this work. While the virtual world allowed for connection in crisis, it was a meager substitute for the energy generated when we are together in person. Please look for more in person regional meetings to begin populating as the school year begins. These events can be found on the NEALS Events section of our website.
Continuing virtual NEALS’ Table Talks. We saw strong attendance at our virtual offerings this past year, so we are committed to continuing these. Particularly since we know some of our members still can’t connect in person for various reasons.
We have started a relationship with Red Purse Marketing to deliver better communication and content to our membership. This President’s Letter is coming to you in the first newsletter curated by the wonderful team at Red Purse.
Sharing the resources from our annual conference in April 2023, focused on: Harnessing the Power of Evolving Technology with Rachael ‘Shelley’ Haven.
NEALS’ 25th Anniversary! It is quite awesome that this organization has been around for so long bringing Learning Specialists and other special educators together. We are planning on being in person at this year’s annual conference. Please stay tuned for more information to come!
This organization has been a strong place of knowledge, information, and camaraderie for me since I discovered it just under a decade ago. I look forward to continuing and strengthening those things that I believe we do very well.
Rick Ross tells us “How many people you bless is how you measure success”, so I look forward to supporting this group of educators as we grow both individually, and together as a community of learning specialists.