Referring to Wenger (2006), Communities of practice is a growing number of people and organizations in various sectors who focus on sharing a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact; to improve social changes pertaining to a specific social issue that affects communities of children, families, and the ECE development (p.1). When it comes to advocating and supporting children with disabilities, three local, state organizations, or communities of practice that interest my passion are described below:
Mississippi Department of Education “ensures a bright future for every child. The State organization of members seeks to create a world-class educational system that gives students the knowledge and skills to be successful in all aspects of life and to flourish as productive citizens and parents. To make this vision a reality, all students including children with various disabilities must be given multiple pathways to success. Therefore, teachers and administrators must continue to meet the challenges of this ever-changing landscape of public education” (Mississippi Dept of Education, 2019). Since, my passion is advocating for future inclusion on behalf of children with various disabilities, a current job opportunity of interest in this communities of practice is Staff Officer III for the Office of Special Education. “The Staff Officer III is responsible for organizing, process, and ensuring compliance of grants and contracts in the Office of Special Education. Special skills and experiences required for candidates are; being punctual, dependable, and a positive team player who can effectively communicate in writing and verbally as well as interpret and present data to a variety of audiences, manage priorities, maintain detail, and meet deadlines in assisting with the goals and objectives of the Office of Special Education Strategic Plan” (MS. Dept of Education, 2019).
Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD): “Mississippi Chapter’s mission is to improve policies and practices on culture/diversity that is inclusive of race, ethnicity, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and socio-economic status of all people with developmental and other disabilities; their families, and communities by supporting members in education, research, health and service activities. While celebrating leadership to Civil Rights in this communities of practice networks, I would like to take on the role of Director, Disability Cultural Center (DCC). The Director’s responsibilities for this opportunity include promoting an inclusive environment that facilitates the advancement and development of students, staff, faculty, and other who are affected with varying disabilities through advocacy, policy development, and institutional intervention to support diversity. To attain this position, a person must master effective leadership and project management skills, exceptional verbal and written communication skills,and the ability to engage with the diverse student body in programs and implementation. Also, the chosen candidate must have knowledge and experience of issues related to disability from a cultural and social justice perspective. A Master’s degree in Disability Studies, Education, and/ or related field is required for all applicants” (AUCD, 2019).
The Inclusive Schools Network: Inclusion In Action is a “network of partners working to promote awareness about the benefits of inclusive education practices around the world by holding events and activities. Their mission is to show all students that disability is a powerful identity and a natural part of human experience. They provide empowerment to student to work forward toward equality in their communities. The educational resources promote the idea that we are all on the same playing field disable or not. Therefore, society is only strong if we see everyone as value” (Inclusive Schools Network, 2018). In this network, I would like to become a peer supporter who encourage allyship for children without disabilities and improve ideas for how to enhance and encourage peers to work together. A supporter must demonstrate empathy toward all cultures’ age, disability, religion, ethnicity, and socio-economic background. Also, a supporter must show commitment to the program/ organization, effective communication and listening skills that transpire positive relationships/partnerships. A peer supporter should be experienced and knowledgeable about issues of various disabilities, education, and families of children with disabilities. I am passionate about children with various disabilities because they are many vulnerable persons in our communities, families, and around the world who need our voices of advocacy, and support especially, when it comes to inclusive education and potential relationships.
Association of University Centers on Disabilities (2019). Retrieved from https://www.aucd..org.
Inclusive Schools Network (2018). ISN: Disability Equality in Education. Retrieved from https://inclusiveschools.org/isn-partner-disability-equality-in-education/.
Mississippi Department of Education (2019). Retrieved from https://www. ms.gov./MDE
Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from https://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/