I’m an Educator.
I received my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education (K-8) and Special Education (K-12) from Rutgers University in 2000. I spent the next 3 years as an Army wife, teaching across the US. I taught reading to middle school students with learning disabilities in a suburb of Washington DC, was the Literacy Leader for grades 3-5 in sunny El Paso, TX, and ran the 8th grade study skills classroom in snowy Watertown, NY. All three positions came with leadership and case management responsibilities that were invaluable as I honed my craft.
I spent the next 5 years as a middle school teacher in West Windsor, NJ. I wore several hats there too as a special education co-teacher, resource room teacher, and general education Language Arts teacher.
The students in my classrooms came from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. They also had a variety of disabilities impacting their learning. Each and every one taught me something new.
I’m a Mom.
I am the proud mom of two awesome boys, Kenny (15) and Luke (12). When I became a Mom, I took a break from teaching. Scratch that— I continued to teach but got paid in dandelions, sticky hugs, and sloppy kisses instead of the green stuff. Both boys have unique learning profiles and have benefited from individualized education programs. The first time I sat on the “other side” of the IEP table I was struck by how different the view was. Also, how raw and powerful my emotions were when the student being discussed was my own.
A few moms and I helped create our school district’s first Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC). I served as a co-leader for 7 years. I fell in love with our mission to foster collaboration between home and school, educate other parents, and advocate on behalf of our community’s children. A fire had been lit.
I’m an Advocate.
In 2018, I started working for a nonprofit agency as a non-attorney education advocate. Looking back on it, I had been preparing for this role my entire adult life without even realizing it. Helping the families of children who think and learn differently is my passion and purpose. I coach parents to communicate their concerns more effectively, help repair broken relationships with school teams, attend IEP meetings with families, and advocate for programs and services to meet each students’ needs.
Helping fellow moms rise above the challenges that they face along their special education journey is the heart of what I do. I draw upon my personal experiences as a teacher and a parent, and the professional advocacy training I received from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). I completed their SEAT 2.0 course during the 2019-2020 school year.
When I’m not teaching, momming, or advocating, you can find me walking or snuggling up on the couch with my husband, our boys, and our cat babies, Skittles and Bear. Flowers, books, the beach, and Philly sports also make me incredibly happy. Go Birds!
"Special Education Savvy guides you through the special education process by providing you with step-by-step tips on how to become the best expert ON your child and the best advocate FOR your child. From beginning to end, Mary Beth will motivate you to trust your instincts, find your tribe, and step into the world of special needs parenting with confidence and grace. This is a must-read!!"
-Dena Russell, NJ Special Needs Connection
"I have had the wonderful privilege of seeing Mary Beth firsthand work with parents and families of children with special needs. As a guest speaker for one of her parent meetings, I watched Mary Beth welcome parents and help them navigate the challenges of advocacy. This book is a must-read and provides a wealth of information for the beginning parent but also the experienced parent...I am so grateful for this type of resource as a therapist working with many families trying to help their children, but also as a mother of a Mensan and an aunt to an autistic nephew. I know firsthand hand this book will provide a tool for parents who are struggling with navigating the complicated system we rely on to educate our children with special needs. Thank you for taking the time to craft such a beautiful guide."
-Dr. Stacy Haynes, Ed.D., LPC, ACS, Founder/Owner Little Hands Family Services, LLC., author, therapist, mom of a Mensan, aunt of Autistic nephew
This is the guide
you need to step up your advocacy game.
Simple, monthly action steps to keep busy parents on track all year long. *Relevant for all grade levels and disability categories.*