SpecialEdSimplified is a small business founded by two Special Education Teachers, Erica Price and Christina Willoughby, in order to create curriculum for a very small, but important student body—students with moderate to severe disabilities.
Erica has taught students with moderate to severe disabilities for 24 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education (K-4) and special education (K-12), with a Master of Arts in Education. Erica has her Director of Special Education Certification, Rank I in Special Education and is a National Board Certified Teacher.
Christina has taught students with moderate to severe disabilities for 14 years. She has a Bachelor and Master in Special Education from the Carl von Ossietzky University in Germany. In those 14 years, Christina spent four years in the Middle School and eight years in the High School setting, and two years in Germany.
Laura is an instructional consultant at Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative with 26 years in the field of education that includes K-5 classroom experience, instructional coaching, as well as consulting and training school districts grades PreK-12.
When I became a teacher twenty plus years ago I was determined to change the status quo. In those days students with moderate to severe disabilities were to be unseen, silent fixtures barricaded behind closed doors. But I could see them for who they truly are, individuals capable of learning, and learning abundantly, and young adults capable of working and contributing to society. I needed my students to see the world as a platform of endless possibilities where they could achieve far more than they, and others, ever expected, if they simply had the initiative and perseverance to overcome the obstacles before them. I needed them to truly understand their worth and importance in the world around them and I needed others to see them in that same light.
To accomplish this I engaged my students in a variety of learning activities both in and outside the classroom. Modifying the curriculum became commonplace with years of materials overflowing storage cabinets, shelves and Tupperware bins. Technological advances and the use of programs like Symbolstix helped tremendously in increasing both their basic academics and communication skills, while community-based instruction helped increase those functional everyday skills most take for granted daily. Being involved in the Special Olympics with three state championships under their belt has increased their self-esteem and feeling of self-worth far more than I imagined. The Transition to Work program has sharpened their vocational skills and offered sustained employment beyond high school for several of my students. Pep rallies have been held in their honor. Those old enough attend the prom and, on occasion, have been voted king and queen by the student body.
Christina then suggested that marketing our materials seemed like the next natural and exciting step. After all, if our students could benefit so greatly, maybe others could to and though our endeavor to enhance the educational performance of students with moderate to severe disabilities nation-wide seemed more like an unreachable fantasy than an actual possibility, we knew we had to try. We had something really special and amazing, state standards-based learning activities and lessons that truly worked. We owed it to ourselves and this remarkable population of students to get the materials we created out there. It is our heartfelt hope and prayer that all those who purchase our materials find them as beneficial, useful, and user-friendly as we have.