Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Another Great for People with Learning Disabilities

The more people you know, the more people you know. I know that sounds redundant, but there are times when it seems like I recognize too many names when I read the obituaries or read of great people passing on. During those times, I remind myself that I wouldn't have many people to recognize if I didn't know many people.

Over the past decade or so, I have volunteered with the Learning Disabilities Association of Michigan. My level of involvement has varied depending on my family and employment situation and over the past few years, I have not been as active as I would have liked perhaps. What never ceases to amaze me though is how many of the people I know who have contributed to me being good at what I do have come from that world - the world of conferences, projects, board meetings, attending national and regional conferences through LDA.

Last evening, I was able to join in on a conference call with the current Board of Directors of LDA of MI. Even after a few years on the very-outer fringes, the people weren't all new to me; the discussion wasn't all that new - what do our members need, how can we provide that, what are reasonable and sustainable resources, how do we move forward, etc...; but the passion is always fresh. People who want to help people. People who know other people who are passionate about the same things; people who make the world a better place. Real people working in a variety of "trenches" for, and with, real people.

Dr. Janet Lerner

I am musing on this this morning as I came across a note of passing of another great in the LD field: Dr. Janet Lerner. Being in this field, I most certainly recognize Dr. Lerner's name from textbooks on my shelf and some articles I still keep filed away for reference. I have even seen Dr. Lerner speak a few times at conferences. What struck me this morning was that Dr. Lerner was actually Janet to me. I didn't know her well, but I was fortunate to know her as more than a name in a citation. I knew her through LDA of Michigan, and, of course, the laudable Flo Curtis. Janet was a friend to LDA of Michigan and, as a board member, I had the opportunity to have dinner with her a few times. She was a great human being filled with knowledge, compassion and quite a sense of humor. She has been on my list of "who I want to be when I grow up". Because she is not a national political figure, her passing did not make the huge headlines. If her passing was able to get through whatever Facebook algorithm is in charge this week, I must have missed it mixed in with memes and social conversations. Since Facebook is my social network, I'm not beating myself up too badly over that but with the abundance of information on the web today, I don't always take the time to filter through to visit my non-social networks as I should.

What I realized in my musings this morning was that if I had not been on that call last night, it's not likely that I would have reminded myself to see what was up at National since I tend to only go there to look for a resource in reaction to a request.  If I hadn't checked National's site, I probably wouldn't have seen the piece about Janet's passing. Thinking about Janet re-fires some mental connections in my "what to remember about learning disabilities" areas. That is a good thing; that is a little thing that is really a big thing; that is the kind of thing that keeps things moving forward for people with learning disabilities.

It's personal connections with my LD-people network that rejuvenate my neurons to just look and see what's happening and to stay connected with real people making a difference, people like Janet. Being involved with an organization like LDA of Michigan gives me some deliberate time to focus on those connections which makes me a better educator, a better advocate and a better mom for a person with dyslexia. I'm not sure how to quantify that for others as a "why become a member" or to add to our network in Michigan, but I am thankful for the connections I have made and I will continue to do my part to keep things moving forward for people with learning disabilities with special thanks to those who have gone before, in particular Sally Smith, Dr. Janet Lerner and the ever-dear-to-my-heart, Flo Curtis.

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