In the beginning ….

During my later elementary school years, the same in my middle and high school years, school was never easy for me. Things took longer for me to complete and process. I would eventually get there, but needed more time to piece things together in the right way to have them make sense. I worked endless hours to complete homework, projects and study for tests. I often wondered why these tasks were taking me so long and for other students, far less time. Who was I as a person? Who was I as a student? Who did I want to become? Teachers would often say that I could not take this class, could not take that class all because of a learning disability that was determined and that delayed my processing, speed of understanding and assessment.

Developing my own learning style was one thing, but when having an Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”; and later a 504 Plan), my parents and I needed guidance that wasn’t there. Fortunately, my aunt, a retired principal with Special Education expertise, helped us interpret these plans and paved the way for my learning growth as a student. Extra hours on tests, extra time on projects, additional support on direction, they all helped me, but I had to advocate in so many different ways to obtain these accommodations. My drive for success was key, but my teammates, my parents and my aunt, really helped to ensure that I understood these plans. They helped to explain what was expected of me, how to interact with teachers, how to self-advocate and how to learn clearly so I could successfully navigate to not only become self-sufficient in my learning, but in all my educational pursuits. In other words, help me to arrive at the best version of myself!

I know Special Education because I lived Special Education. I developed a road map for success that resulted in straight A’s in high school that allowed me to gain acceptance to Syracuse University where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with High Honors with a dual degree in yes, Inclusive Elementary and Special Education. I was destined to become a teacher, a “natural” to become a Special Education teacher and most importantly, with my experience, developed an expertise on how to navigate within the Special Education world.

Fast forward …

Teaching in the city of Chicago, the suburbs within Metro Chicago and suburban South Carolina, I gathered, observed and was an active member in a wide range of teaching experiences that formed great perspective for me on learning best practices in Special Education. I learned from teacher interaction, faculty engagement, collaboration and unfortunately observed in many instances with my teaching colleagues and faculty, lack thereof on behalf of the student. Teaching to me became more than a profession. For me, teaching was a place to positively impact the life and growth of every student by helping them learn to love school, regardless of understanding form, path and pace.

Throughout my seven years as a Special Education Teacher (primarily Middle School), I gained a wealth of knowledge in Special Education and learned to how to teach effectively. I wrote comprehensive IEP’s that were in full compliance, led IEP meetings, advocated for students every day and ultimately taught students how to become their own self-advocates. Through my love for teaching, imparting my own experience and wisdom into all I do and empathizing with each student about their own learning, my respect, care and guidance always came shining through for the student and his or her parents/guardians.

At the end of the day, feedback and providing the right guidance to a student is true love. I have observed that families and students sometimes need a voice, an expert teammate, so to speak, on the road to individualized student success. While I see my own experiences as my guiding light, I feel that my destiny continues to be more than a teacher. Being an Advocate for Action allows me to assist the student and family as an independent guide to accompany and represent alongside them in the complex world of learning and accommodation, keeping the student, their son’s or daughter’s best interests in mind every step of the way.

Carly Rosen - Advocate for Action

Carly Rosen

Advocate for Action