What CEC Means to Me
I joined CEC in 1994. At that time, the Peel District School Board had a thriving chapter of CEC. Little did I know the profound influence that membership would have on my academic and professional development. There were two particular aspects of membership that particularly affected me: conferences and the publications.
With membership came the awareness that there were both provincial and international conferences which I attended almost every year. Several that stand out in my memory are:
- New York, 2002 – this was the year after 9/11 and emotions in the city were still running high. On the Saturday afternoon, there was a long parade of fire fighter and police pipe bands. The parade marshall was Sean Connery. I was so fortunate to be standing at the curb and to have the full view and hearing of the pipers. The Publisher’s Display was amazing and I kept mental notes as I walked through the three giant halls full of items for students with special learning needs. The workshops were inspiring and I could hardly wait to start implementing what I’d learned.
- Maui -DADD conference – can’t remember what year – the day we arrived there was a very solemn ceremony of Hawaiian chiefs and the hotel owners participating in a blessing of the land and the hotel. Again, the workshops were all excellent, but, for me, one stood out: It was given by a group of four Vietnamese teachers of autistic students. They explained the education system in Vietnam and how and what they taught their students. I had to admit that they were ahead of us in many ways. I took home a great deal from that workshop.
- Boston, 2007 – this was an incredible conference in every way, but the last grand session was the speech given by Senator Edward Kennedy about his and his family’s dedication to forwarding legislation to meet the needs of individuals with special needs and physical disabilities. It was possibly his last public event.
- Nashville, 2010 – this was perhaps the largest CEC conference I attended. It was held at the Grand Old Opry hotel in Nashville. It was a magnificent hotel and I think that everyone who attended was devastated by the dramatic flooding that happened in Nashville the following week and destroyed the beautiful gardens that were planted throughout the extensive main floor.
It was always a thrill to attend workshops given by people whose articles had inspired my own practice. In no other setting could a person have been exposed to so much information pertinent to one’s own professional learning and also to have met people from all over North America – all there for the same reasons.
With our own provincial CEC conferences, I was so pleased to be able to organize the publishers’ display for several years. I’ll never forget our first Peel chapter conference in Oakville. It was really the best of the best – the quality of the speakers, the organization, and especially the fellowship that grew through our work together to create such a good educational experience for everyone.
There were three publications that came with membership: Education, Education and Training and Teaching Exceptional Children. I was fortunate to have two articles published in Teaching Exceptional Children.
When the journals would arrive in the mail, I would look at the tables of contents and, with my yellow marker, note those I wanted to read. I tried to read at least three articles per week, sometimes more. I regarded reading as part of my professional responsibility and continue to believe that it is critical and our duty to keep up to date about new directions in research.
CEC is all about learning and hopefully encouraging a commitment to on-going learning in order to do and be our best for our students who have autism and other developmental disabilities.