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Champions of Change - Ellen Coulston

Photo Courtesy of Ellen Coulston

“Every Child has Value and Everyone Wants to Belong” are messages I gained from the Mom Congress 2011.  It does not matter if a child is brown, purple, white, stripped or is exceptional in any capacity, the bottom line is, no child wants to fail.  Our job is to keep encouraging and supporting them to reach their highest potential regardless of their challenges.  Everyone wants to be acknowledged as someone of Value.

The only way we can keep the achievement bar raised for our children is if we have a strong Learning Triad.  Comparable to the checks and balances of our government, our education is based on the same vigor.  A child’s chances in succeeding in this world depend on the strength of the student, teacher and parent partnership.  We can shatter low expectations if each one of us seizes our role, performs our job effectively and is purposely committed to helping each other.

As a parent, I was able to collaborate with my son’s schools due to the openness and progressive thinking of three astute Principals, namely MaryAnn Marshall, Linc Hohler and Dorrell Green.  These educational leaders allowed me to run social skills groups in school.  Recognizing the incredible demands on school resources, coupled with my own personal motivation to teach social skills to help my child, these savvy leaders welcomed me.  The beneficial impact was more far-reaching than expected.  Its immeasurable success was documented in many children and teachers too! 

I based my social skills program on the work of internationally acclaimed Michelle Garcia Winner and her Social Thinking® ideology but took it a step further by developing and testing visuals and props to help children with language challenges to grasp her concepts.  The program I pioneered was observed by the Delaware Department of Education and presented at our state’s Positive Behavior Support Conference.  It is now being offered in PBS schools statewide.

Dr. Aletha Ramseur taught me education is about holding open the Door of Opportunity for our children.  That door has gotten narrower since my generation has come through, due to global economic competitiveness.  More now than ever, parental engagement, educator leadership and students recognizing that school is their full-time job, is the roadmap for developing a career path for economic, societal and personal success.  Being committed to a strong learning triad, we can help our students reach those high expectations.  In the words of John Greenleaf Whittier,

I’ll lift you

And you lift me,

And we’ll both ascend together

This post was originally written for the White House Champions of Change series.  Ellen Coulston is mom to two teenage sons.  She is the Delaware Mom Congress 2011 delegate.  She is a Social Skills consultant and facilitator.  She is an advocate for the disability community educating others that everyone deserves emancipation!