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Special Education Director's Blog

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Shoulders of Our Ancestors

This is an historic week, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for civil rights and Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Civil rights means having the same opportunities that other people do—regardless of your race . . . or your disability. Especially for our children with disabilities, that comes through access to appropriate education. 

Several years ago I was lucky enough to hear Maya Angelou speak. She was talking about the obligation we have to take care of the next generation. She said that we are blessed and that our success was paid for by those who came before us . . .whether they came on slave ships or the Mayflower…someone before us paved the way for our gifts. It is critical that we share the gift with others just as our ancestors have done for us. That we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors.

 Dr. Angelou said, When you learn, teach. When you get, give. That will take you everywhere. You have been paid already, by the ancestors. So be grateful. And be prepared to pay for someone else that is yet to come. 

Dear friends . . . every day, as you provide world-class educational opportunities for your students . . . you are the shoulders on which one day they will stand! 

I have a dream . . . I have a dream that people will see the “abilities” of our students and not just the “disability”. 

(I also have a dream that NASA will find a way to suck the calories out of chocolate . . . but that is our little secret! Shhhhh) 

Keep up the amazing work that you do and pause every once in a while to notice who is on your shoulders! 

Unfortunately, I also need to tell you some sad news. Dr. Jerry Vlasak, Frances Stetson’s husband passed away this afternoon around 2:00 surrounded by Frances, his two children and other family members. Jerry was the Special Education Director in Humble ISD when I was hired there as a school psychology intern in 1986. He had been at the US Department of Education during the creation of PL 94-142. Jerry was a huge advocate for students with disabilities and I remember that no matter how many times I went to him with an issue about a student . . .his answer was always, "Whatever is best for the student!" He has had such a positive impact on students with disabilities across the nation! Please keep Frances in your heart . . . they have both dedicated their lives to enhancing the lives of students with disabilities! 

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