President's Letter January 2024
by Chris Ouellette
Director of Learning Support, Learning Specialist Emma Willard School
Happy New Year to our NEALS’ Members and Supporters,
I hope your holiday season brought you what you were looking for as we closed out 2023 and rang in the start of 2024. Last week at Emma Willard, we spent some time choosing three different learning sessions delivered by our peers. Nine of our colleagues produced seven 45-minute workshops covering topics ranging from mental health trends to learning from alumni about life after high school. I was thrilled to see that five of the seven offerings focused on student support!
In December, I shared what I was grateful for during the holiday season. This month, I want to take a moment to reflect on both what NEALS has been able to accomplish and what we hope to bring to you moving forward this year.
Gathering and Connection
The NEALS Board continues to meet monthly, a shift that began during the Covid pandemic. While this initially felt like it might be too much, I found that it has kept us on track quite well. In August, we made the commitment to work hard to get back to a strong offering of gatherings and connections, both virtual and in person. NEALS had a virtual Table Talk in September: "Back to School with NEALS," and another in November: "Managing Difficult Discussions" with special guest Dr. Jaime Greene. In addition to our virtual offerings, there were four in-person regional gatherings in NH, Boston/Metrowest, Capital Region NY/Western MA, and CT/NY/MA. I attended two of these, providing much-needed connection with colleagues in the industry.
Upcoming Gathering and Connection Opportunities
Regional Gatherings being organized for February. We are hopeful that these will be in person, and we are ready if Mother Nature decides we need to move to a virtual setting.
Virtual Gathering in March. This will be a great opportunity to meet together and for members to get a small glimpse into the work being created for our annual conference.
NEALS’ 25th Annual Member Conference. We look forward to seeing you on Friday, April 19th, 2024, at Emma Willard in Troy, NY. Our educational landscape continues to change rapidly, so it is our goal to look at learning specialists and the work we do through the futurist’s lens.
Board Participation. We are searching for new members to work with us on the board. We are a small, yet mighty group, and we are looking for more dynamic educators to join us in the work that we do. Please direct any questions or interest in joining to: Chris Ouellette, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am wishing you all of the good energy I can muster as you return to your work after an extended break. The work that you do is invaluable, whether you hear it or not. I encourage you to seek out those moments where you can find connection and growth. Above it all, make sure to listen to the words of the group ¡MAYDAY! as they tell us to “make room for new blessings”.