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The Power of Partnership: Perspectives of a PSU Professor of Special Education

By Paula Stanovich

On April 26th I had the opportunity to be a part of the 3rd annual All Born (In) conference. It was a wonderful day, a day on which I learned much, taught a little, and met many amazing people. There was a great buzz in the air that day, a positive energy that is feeding me still.

If I had written my reflections on All Born (In) immediately after the conference I think they would have been quite different from what they are now. The passage of time changes our memories, perhaps not always for the better, but also provides some needed distance and can allow us to know what is important by what remains.

What remains for me is the sense that all of the people in those meeting rooms could become a powerful force for change. The uniqueness of All Born (In) is in its goal of bringing together a seemingly disparate collection of individuals to unify around a common purpose. In attendance this year there were parents, grandparents, guardians, siblings, friends, self-advocates, teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, therapists, teachers-in-training, and teacher educators.

Those of us who attend All Born (In) generally represent two groups that are often portrayed as being at loggerheads with each other (and, truthfully, sometimes are). And, yet... it is in partnership that power lies. And partnership begins with commonalities, not differences.

What commonalities brought us together that day?

• Our belief in the value of each human being,
• Our passion and commitment to building an inclusive society that starts first with building inclusive schools,
• Our knowledge that the "other side” has something to offer, and
• Our understanding that, without those others, we are not whole ourselves and cannot possibly succeed in achieving our goals.

This is where the power is, inside us, in our hopes and dreams. My hope is that each day each of us will try to unlock a little of that potential power: lend a hand, ask a question, provide a service, advocate for ourselves. Be both a giver and a taker. Give help and take responsibility. Push a little, but don’t forget to pull as well. In these joint efforts, perhaps we can begin to see the change we want to happen and keep the dream of All Born (In) alive. The question that remains for
me a month after the conference is “What will I do today to advance the cause of inclusive education?” The question for you is the same: “What will you do today?”