In the Spring of 2009, I was finishing my 7th year in Special Education at a GNETS program in South Georgia. When the Program Director stopped by to say hello during my planning time, he mentioned he had just left a meeting about RtI. My confused response was, “RT-what?”
He laughed, “RtI! You don’t know what RtI is?”
Hesitant to share my ignorance, I responded, “Um, no. Should I?”
“Oh yes! You need to know this! Write that down, R…T…I.”
I jotted those three letters on a post-it note and tucked it away as he briefly explained a three tiered model... and then we chatted about other things.
Little did I know that the next several years would be filled with opportunities to learn and lead in the wonderful world of RtI/MTSS/PBIS as my husband’s career moved us to Florida, then North Carolina, before coming back home to Georgia.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015 when I landed the MTSS Director position in Colquitt County. I immediately began searching for my state support network. At the time, Georgia did not have the amazing GaDOE MTSS team and statewide support that exists now, and I was at a loss. I was craving the collegiality, collaboration, and structure I had in Florida and North Carolina. Of course I had it within my district, but I was craving being part of a larger community of professionals engaged in the work. It wasn’t until I attended my first SSTAGE Conference in September 2015 that I felt I had “found my people.”
As president, my hope is that every SSTAGE member has that same immediate sense of belonging and feels they are part of our larger community. We have had an incredibly difficult two years in education. We have also seen just how resilient our students, families, and educators are. We also know that resilience only gets you so far. My hope is that SSTAGE can provide practical solutions to everyday challenges our schools and educators face. The needs of our students and families grow more and more complex each year, as do the demands on our schools. Our goal is to be responsive to the needs of our members, and provide real-time resources and support.
In response to the push for increased Summer Learning options, SSTAGE held our first mini-event in May 2021. During this 2 hour virtual event we heard recommendations from a leading expert in the field, as well as three school districts (a small, medium, and large district) regarding their plans for Summer Learning. The feedback was amazing, so we are excited to offer additional mini-events this year, targeting areas our members have indicated they want to learn more about. We are excited about increasing opportunities to learn and grow together.
I look forward to serving as your President this school year as SSTAGE continues to offer high quality professional learning and collaborative opportunities differentiated to our members' needs. We offer something for everyone - from the founding members to the newbie who says “MT-what??” ;-)
2022-2023 SSTAGE President