Master IEP Coach® Spotlight: Lisa WrightAug 01, 2022
Meet Lisa Wright, Master IEP Coach® from California!
"My focus is always on staying curious about the child and making sure we're making choices as a team that honor who that child is and how they learn."
How did Lisa end up at an IEP table?
Lisa initially found herself at the IEP table as a high school math teacher and felt ill-prepared when she would receive IEPs for her students. For those students, she did everything she could to meet them where they were and provide support, but "that was more just instinct and natural curiosity than having a true understanding of what Special Education was." Fortunately, her classroom was next door to a Special Education teacher's room, and often sought guidance from them.
Later, Lisa again found herself at an IEP table - this time, filling the role of parent to her autistic daughter who qualified for early intervention services. "It wasn't the best experience," she remembered. Coming from a family of educators and with her teaching experience, she thought it would be a streamlined process, but found out quickly that it wasn't. "If I knew then what I know now," she joked.
How did the Master IEP Coach® Mentorship change her view of Special Education?
Thinking back to her initial experience with her daughter's IEP, Lisa struggled to find her role at the table. "I identify as a teacher, I obviously identify as a parent, and those two ideas just weren't syncing up." Lisa and her husband eventually sought legal counsel to assist them, which never felt good or right to her. When she discovered the Master IEP Coach® Mentorship, Catherine spoke her language. "I really felt that in our more litigious route, we lost sight of my daughter and her needs," said Lisa. "The Mentorship, for me, was like coming home and finding my people." Once she started working with clients, she's noticed that more and more school teams are open to the idea of having an outside perspective included in the conversation. While they may initially be guarded when Lisa shows up to a meeting ("Who is this person? Do we need to be cautious around her?"), as the discussion continues, the tone shifts to encouragement and appreciation for her insights. She's even started conducting trainings for some of the districts in her area.
One of the best parts of the Master IEP Coach® Mentorship for Lisa was the introduction to the community itself. "It feels like I'm part of something bigger than myself. I feel connected at all times," she said.
Who Does Lisa Like to Work With?
Lisa feels most connected to clients with a similar experience as her. Many of her parents have autistic children in early elementary ages. She also has a lot of experience working with gestalt language processors, and has built relationships with a number of speech service providers to develop better goals for them. Lisa loves to promote neurodiversity-affirming education strategies and to help IEP teams explore and develop new approaches that support students who learn differently, hoping to bridge the gap for school teams and parents to communicate more effectively.
What's Lisa's Favorite Part of the IEP?
Like many of us, the Parent Input Statement is Lisa's favorite part of the IEP. A client recently challenged her to push the statement from "just a bulleted list" to a narrative that "truly captured the essence of the child". Lisa said it was a game-changer for her to translate these pieces of data into a more complete image of the child and their abilities; it was a very humanizing element of the IEP and a powerful introduction for the IEP team. "I'll never write an IEP without that type of Parent Input Statement again."
What's been Lisa's proudest moment as a Master IEP Coach®?
One thing that Lisa cherishes about the work she's doing now is the impact she's making in the lives of real families: "I've had most of my clients have told me that my part in the process has really added value and that they felt empowered by my presence." Lisa fondly remembers a Zoom IEP meeting with a client and their IEP team where the mom needed to share some very raw feelings and feedback. During their private debrief after the meeting's conclusion, the mom told Lisa, "Having you there made it safe and okay to share my truth." That's what Lisa wants to do this work.
"It's an honor to be brought into somebody's life during this vulnerable time and to be part of that learning process with them."
Lisa Wants You to Know...
"It's the kids—their voice matters the most. Our job as parents is to amplify their voice, not speak for them."
Get Connected with Lisa:
Ready to join Lisa and our Community of Master IEP Coaches® working TOGETHER to change Special education? Join us at the next Master IEP Coach® Mentorship!
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