#NationalVolunteerWeek: Special Educator…Ninja…Same Thing!

It’s National Volunteer Week – and with the unprecedented circumstances we are all facing right now, there has never been a more important time to take a step back and recognize our community’s work. At CEC, our member volunteers drive our mission and are the foundation behind everything we do.

“Whether during normal times or the current times we are in, you are the heart and soul of CEC. Together, we are stronger. We so appreciate your leadership.”

I want to thank so many members who not only chose CEC as their professional home, but who have participated and engaged in meaningful and important ways to advance and add value to CEC and our profession. Everything you do is to ensure the success of students with exceptionalities, and your dedication, your commitment, and your advocacy do NOT go unnoticed.

At CEC, hundreds of volunteers spend countless hours during their evenings and weekends, taking time away from their families to lead CEC’s state/provincial units and special interest divisions. They conduct professional development events, write for division journals, create policies and position statements to advance grassroots advocacy, and so much more. Many of them made the commitment to attend CEC’s annual Leadership Institute so that they could build their volunteer leadership team to better serve their members.

But, your impact doesn’t stop there – still hundreds more volunteers work in other ways to advance CEC’s mission and strategic goals. They serve on CEC committees, write articles for TEACHING Exceptional Children and Exceptional Children, lead CEC webinars, submit convention proposals, and present sessions. They diligently revise CEC’s Professional Practice and Preparation Standards; conduct teacher preparation program reviews for accreditation; voice their views at town halls; participate in focus groups and interviews; and take surveys to provide critical input to CEC’s staff, committees, and Board of Directors.

During the 2019 Special Education Legislative Summit, nearly 300 advocates from 46 states and the District of Columbia went to Capitol Hill and held more than 275 meetings with their senators and representatives. These advocates have done invaluable and essential work to ensure a free appropriate public education and early intervention services for all children with exceptionalities.

Your continued engagement is absolutely critical to the future and success of CEC and its members. On behalf of the Board of Directors, CEC staff, and the community you serve, thank you. Thank you for all that you do today and every day, and as always, #WeKeepTeaching.


Jennifer Lesh, Ph.D., is the president of the Council for Exceptional Children and assistant professor of Exceptional Student Education at Lynn University. Before receiving her Ph.D. from Barry University in Leadership with an emphasis on Special Education, Dr. Lesh held several positions within the Exceptional Student Education field at the School District of Palm Beach County. She has over 20 years of special education practical experience ranging from classroom teacher and specialist, to dean of students at the high-school level.

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