What are important qualities to consider when hiring an advocate?
Families often think it is necessary to go down the complicated and emotional special education path alone. Special education law is difficult to understand and the process can feel impossible to navigate. The internet can often complicate your understanding even more.
Families that make the decision to hire an advocate need to consider the advocate’s:
- Experience and knowledge in the field of special education, including knowledge of the wide variety of disabilities, placement and service options (public and private), assessment tools, etc.
- Experience and relationships with local school districts.
- Ability to utilize collaborative and creative problem-solving in order to maintain a positive and productive relationship with the school district.
- Ability to compassionately attend to your questions and concerns and alleviate your anxiety.
- Ability to professionally represent your child’s best interests to school districts and other professionals.
Our child-centered team of special education experts work collaboratively with all involved professionals to maximize each child’s unique potential.
After more than 25 years of advocating for children with special needs, Renée semi-retired in December of 2019 and moved to Healdsburg, CA. She will continue to provide behind-the-scenes consultation and support for parents and the advocates in her practice.
Renee brings a distinctive perspective and knowledge base to secure services for your child. Her expertise stems from her work as a:
- Special Education Advocate
- Director of Special Education
- School Psychologist
- 504 Coordinator
- Literacy Tutor/Consultant
This unique combination of sitting on both sides of the table provides Renée with an exceptionally broad and thorough understanding of a variety of special education areas, including legal issues, (IDEA, state regulations, Section 504, alternative dispute resolution, mediation, and due process hearings) and all levels of service and placement options.
Additionally, the depth and breadth of Renée’s experience with children with a wide range of abilities, disabilities, and ages helps her determine what services your child requires to learn and achieve. Renée’s unique and well-established relationships with Bay Area school districts, effective communication style, and intuitive conflict resolution skills make it easier to obtain those services. Let her combine her unique “inside” perspective and special education expertise to effect positive outcomes for your child.
- The Advocacy Project – Certificate in Advocacy
- University of California, Davis – M.A., Education/Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Psychology
- University of California, Santa Barbara – B.A., Psychology
- University of Colorado at Denver – Early Literacy Certification
Coverage areas primarily include the East Bay, including the east side of San Jose.
Laura is passionate about helping children receive the education and services they need and deserve. She brings over 20 years of educational experience to the practice as a:
- Special Education Advocate
- Special Education Program Supervisor
- Teacher for Moderate-to-Severe Special Day Class
- Independent Home School Teacher/Principal
After beginning her career as an Independent Home School Teacher/Principal, Laura returned to school to support her transition to special education when she found her enthusiasm for helping children with special needs. During her first year as a Teacher in a moderate-to-severe special day class, she won an Excellence In Teaching award from the SELPA for her work advocating for her students and implementing curriculum. Her classroom also served as the model high school classroom for the country based upon the unique moderate-to-severe curriculum she taught. Laura next transitioned into the role of a Special Education Program Supervisor where she worked tirelessly assisting and advocating for her students and their families to establish the supports and services needed for success.
Due to her desire to work closer with her students and their families without the constraints of the public school system, Laura then transitioned into her role as a Special Education Advocate. Having worked on both sides of the table, she has developed strong working relationships with district employees and understands how to brainstorm and collaborate to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. Laura’s calm demeanor, honesty, and practicality support parents on every step of their journey. Laura’s experience allows her to provide expertise, passion, energy, and most importantly hope to every family she represents.
- Brandman University – M.A., Educational Leadership and Administration
- Brandman University – Administrative Credential
- Brandman University – Teaching Credential in Moderate-to-Severe Special Education
- Trinity University – B.A., History
Coverage areas primarily include the Peninsula and South Bay.
Heather has over 20 years of experience in K-12 education:
- Special Education Advocate
- Executive Functioning Coach
- Inclusion Specialist
- Instructional Leader of Special Education
- Educational Specialist
- Reading Specialist
- Elementary School Teacher
Heather has a knack for connecting with students at all grade levels and loves supporting students and families through the maze of special education. As an elementary school teacher, Heather relished finding new ways to include and educate the diverse learners in her classroom. It was a natural progression into special education where she focused her master’s work on Dyslexia, spent time at Charles Armstrong learning Orton-Gillingham’s multisensory reading approach, and created her own multisensory systematic reading program for elementary school students with outstanding results. At the high school level, Heather focused on remedial reading interventions, inclusion, and executive functioning supports. After gathering a vast knowledge of Special Education law and best practices for educating and supporting neurodiverse students within school systems, Heather transferred all of her skills into special education advocacy.
Heather is passionate about creating environments where all learners thrive and continues to provide training in the areas of Universal Design for Learning, Dyslexia, Inclusion, and supporting students with ADD/ADHD/Executive Functioning struggles. She loves supporting families in figuring out the puzzle of their children’s learning and social-emotional needs and supporting them in obtaining the needed supports for success. Her warmth, collaborative skills, and innovative thinking help families work with districts to find the best possible support for her clients.
- Notre Dame De Namur – M.S., Special Education and Mild Moderate Special Education Credential
- Sacramento State University – Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
- University of Arizona – B.S., Human Development and Psychology
Coverage areas include the Peninsula, excluding Burlingame School District
Cyndi Wright has been passionately working with neurodiverse students for five years as a:
- Special Education Advocate
- Special Education District Advisory Council (SEDAC) Chair
- Child Neurology Foundation Program Manager
After many years of consulting for non-profit, for-profit, and individuals, Cyndi shifted her emphasis to advocating for children with learning differences when she experienced first-hand the frustration of securing supports for her son who has neurobehavioral challenges. Realizing that many families were also experiencing the same level of frustration while trying to navigate the complex world of special education, Cyndi became a Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)-Certified Special Education Advocate. In addition to providing advocacy support, her role as SEDAC Chair has allowed Cyndi to work with school administrators, special education teams, and families, thereby gaining a strong understanding of the needs of all players in the field of special education. All of these positions helped Cyndi to capitalize upon her ability to collaborate with teams and convert complex challenges into creative and effective solutions, all the while maintaining positive and productive relationships.
Cyndi is committed to helping families avoid the challenges, mistakes, and delays she encountered with her son. Cyndi provides anxiety-reducing support and tools for every step of the journey. Her strong communication skills allow her to succinctly explain the emotional and legal world of special education to parents so they can make informed decisions. She seeks creative and strategic solutions based upon the individual learning profile of each child. Cyndi’s optimism and belief that every child deserves an education that best meets their needs leads to excellent solutions that change children’s lives.
- University of Colorado at Boulder-B.A. Political Science and Economics
- Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Special Education Advocate Training Certificate