2014 Graduate Updates
When I learned via Leadership that there is "Unified Sports" I immediately brought the program to Principal Brian Pickering of ConVal HS. We emailed, had meetings and I did all the preliminary research he requested. I appeared before the Wellness Committee of the ConVal School Board, gained unanimous support and then appeared before the entire School Board, they loved the idea. Principal Pickering wanted to wait until next year to unfold an official "Unified Sports" program (our district missed deadlines for this year). I requested we begin with a Unified Basketball "club team" to begin this winter. The School Board fully supported this.
Last week the high school had signups and in January, the Unified Basketball 'club' team will begin practices! I will be one of the volunteer coaches.
Thank you to Leadership and especially Lori Breen who told me about Unified Sports during the September Leadership weekend.
I organized a support group meeting on May 22, 2014 for parents of students who receive special Education in ConVal SD, no one showed up due to late advertising and poor weather. Linda Q and I strategized and planned for another meeting in September.
Last year, I introduced Unified Sports to ConVal HS and acted as volunteer coach for the pilot Unified Basketball club program. This year, ConVal has an official NHIAA Unified Basketball team complete with jerseys, referees and games with area schools. I am continuing to dialogue with my school district about the importance of moving toward an inclusive academic model: conducting Social Connections: Adults as Facilitators Closing the Friendship Gap for the faculty leadership team at the high school; bringing former parents in to speak with the principal about their experiences and constructively dialoguing with the Superintendent about research on inclusive educational practices and our family’s unpleasant experiences with teachers and staff. I’ve also joined the Parent Engagement Group.
I was hoping I could tell you that I ran for School Budget Committee and WON... lol, but I LOST.. so that’s not such big news hahaha..
I've been doing planning for my Sanborn Family School Partnership group; more info soon!
And I’m looking for work in the disability field or education field, but that’s still all in the works as well.
During Leadership I started teaching as adjunct faculty in the UNH Social Work department, this fall was accepted into the New England Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Trainer of Trainers Program at the University of Connecticut, was successful in getting one of my cub scouts and his parents to Cub scout camp over the summer, successfully rewrote my son’s IEP (which the team agreed to) and survived the first middle school IEP meeting without crying, yelling or doing something I might regret later. But most importantly, I have found my voice to speak up, or question others in my everyday life, to get to the root of discriminatory practices, beliefs and actions that hold us all back. I have learned to harness my anger to become a more effective advocate for not just my own children, but for all people.
Updates on my kids:
My youngest has progressed to the point of discontinuing private speech services (after 5 years) for his Apraxia. He will likely continue to grapple with his motor planning throughout his life, but for now has learned effective word finding strategies and improved his articulation to communicate easily with his peers and adults.
My oldest has transitioned to middle school and is loving his new-found freedom and independence.
Since Leadership began I have become a member of ABLE. I attended a public hearing the State School Board held pertaining to proposed rules changes, including limiting the use of child restraint practices on October 24th. I met up with fellow leadership members Kim Tautenhan and Karen Blake. I have also been to one of the Legislative Medicaid Managed care hearings in Concord on November 7th, Governor Hassan was a speaker.
I completed the PIC VA training program in May! I have also been working very hard on the ABLE NH's Managed Care Task Force. I am co-chair along with my leadership classmate Amy Girouard. We helped implement policy change regarding prior authorizations with one of the 3 MCO's! We attend every monthly Governor's Commission on Medicaid Care management meeting. I have also been attending the hearings at the LOB pertaining to SB 396, relevant to Restraint & Seclusion. Leadership has given me a voice and a new way to network with so many other wonderful individuals.
Since completing the Leadership Series...
- Became a member of the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities
- Became a state delegate for region 3 at the State Family Support Council.
- Became the treasurer, board member, and chair of the managed care task force at ABLE NH for 2 years. I also sit on the NH Quality Council, representing ABLE.
- Became a committee member working on NH's autism state plan.
- Worked as a committee member for the last 2 years on the ABLE NH/Leadership charity golf tournament.
- Was hired by CSNI and trained to be an SIS interviewer.
- Most recently was hired by Region 3, LRCS as their Legislative Liaison.
Penny Duffy is a warm-hearted woman who goes the extra mile for people and causes she cares about. Her bubbling and energetic personality has endeared her to many in her class at NH Leadership.
“Penny is an amazing advocate for her family as well as other families. She has become involved in the legislative process, testifying at hearings and supporting other leaders. She is a good listener and always willing to provide other families with support and resources. She accomplishes anything she takes on! She has a strong work ethic and a great sense of humor,” says Jenn Pineo, Penny’s Group Leader this past year.
Penny is the busy mother of two children named Abby and Sam who keep her busy with their activities and as a leader in the school. She is past-president of their school’s PTO in Concord NH and is their Volunteer Coordinator. Abby is legally blind and, in supporting her, Penny has found she has skills in helping other parents. She has taken courses in advocacy and special education laws with PIC and is a new member of the IOD’s Consumer Advisory Council. She has worked at a national level for the National Federation of the Blind and is currently on their NH Board. She works on the state convention and is the president of the NH Parents of Blind Children, an organization that she founded in 2012. She currently is a consultant to Perkins Products, advising them on social media strategies and writing to raise product awareness and increase sales with products designed to support people who have low vision or blindness.
As a recent leadership graduate in the Class of 2014, Penny has used her skills in person-centered planning to begin to hone in on her transition back to the work force. She defines her passions as being service oriented and being active in doing the ‘work that needs to be done’ in the field of disabilities. She calls herself a “doer.” She likes to support people with the resources and information that they need to build their community and make lives better for those that they support. And she hopes to work broadly without specific disabilities as a focus. Penny says, “I am good at helping people.” Her past work experience certainly shows that! She had been working in customer relations, office management, and as a customer service agent in the health insurance field before taking off time to raise her children. Her fellow classmates and NH Leadership staff have some powerful comments about Penny. Says Denise Colby: “A force to be reckoned with! Passionate & committed!! A wealth of knowledge when pertaining to IEP's! Penny lends a hand, even when she's out of her comfort zone!” From Deb Genthner: Penny is dedicated, creative, and an amazing Mom. I am thrilled I had the opportunity to meet her and get to know her during her time with Leadership. I have no doubt we will be seeing her name frequently in the NH spotlight!
Penny recently authored an article for a national publication about what she has learned about the legislative process through NH Leadership. You can view it by clicking here.
Watch for Penny- this powerful woman is likely to be seen and heard in NH for a long time!
You can reach Penny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin has just returned from a family trip to Ireland and had a wonderful time. He was very curious to find out how people who have disabilities are educated and if they are included. He found that they are segregated for the most part.
Kevin, fresh from Leadership graduation in the Class of 2014, was a very active participant in Leadership this year. Says his group leader, Linda Quintanilha, “Kevin is an exciting up and coming leader in New Hampshire. He is courageous and passionate about civil rights. Kevin always brought a much needed sense of humor to home group, as well as a perspective that was angry yet forgiving, feisty yet respectful and hopeful yet grounded in reality.”
Kevin has an ambitious plan for his future. He is currently completing his Bachelor’s degree at UNH and is proficient in 5 languages. He will be receiving his degree in Spanish in 2015. After graduation, he is hoping to go on to get his Master’s degree and become dually certified in special education and secondary education. He will complete his Master’s in one year while doing his internship. He lives in the dorms at UNH and is active on campus as a student representative and tour guide.
When he finishes school, he has several options that he is considering. He might like to teach high school Spanish and/or perhaps teach Spanish to students who have disabilities. But he is also very interested in influencing policy at a national level. This interest was very evident during Leadership and particularly in the Legislative session where Kevin demonstrated his knowledge of the political process. He may do both, and knowing Kevin, he will likely succeed in any path he chooses!
Kevin has a YouTube posting talking about ability. You can view it here.
You can reach Kevin at email@example.com.
I am on Family Council at Community Bridges. Through that, I am partnering with Community Bridges to start a state wide Angelman Connection TYZE online group so that people can share information on scientific research, educational issues, support and advocacy issues.
I have gone to an ABLE meeting on seclusion and restraint and I plan to join as a member in the new year.
Things I have gotten involved in since September:
- Policy partners with community crossroads
- Went back to college
- Have been attending the step 2 hearings
- Went to a hearing at DOE for seclusion and restraint
- Will be doing the PIC volunteer training program
- Applied to the DD council, wasn't excepted because there aren't any seats available for parents.
- Looked into LEND but I don't meet the degree qualifications yet. But I am working on that.
Looking forward to what other things I can get involved in!
I am so glad I am part of Leadership. Here is an updated list of groups I have become involved with since September.
- I changed baseball caps from Mgr of Wheelabrator for the Portsmouth Little League Challenger’s Division to a position on the LL Board: VP – Challenger Division. (I always hoped to become a Vice President someday)
- Attended the public hearing on 10/24 at 11 AM at James Mastricola Upper Elementary School in Merrimack re: Limiting the use of child restraints practices, behavioral interventions, parental consent & relative to access to insurances
- Discovery – After Session 1 and learning about the Laconia State School, I found out that my Uncle Lucien (father’s brother) who was mentally challenged attended the state school and resided in the Murphy building around 1940 – 1948. I had the opportunity to share the story with the other leadership participants during session 2, which I am extremely grateful for.
- Have begun working on process and flow chart of the what I need to accomplish / relationships I need to build to run for City of Portsmouth School Board.