I have such incredible respect for individuals who have the courage and determination to deviate from the known, well trodden path and carve a new trail. Erin Porter is one of those inspirational educators who instinctively identifies ways in which we can better support our students. In her role as a Learning Support Teacher, with responsibilities for our Kindergarten and primary students, Erin has supported a significant number of students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and in turn their families. She is masterful in sharing effective strategies with educators (classroom teachers and educational assistants) and stepping in to directly support students when needed. During our team meetings with parents, caregivers and community supports, such as doctors, Erin articulates a well-crafted plan of support, acknowledging that for some of our students, those support plans shift and evolve on a regular basis.
As Erin engaged in conversations with families it became more and more apparent that there was so much information and misinformation available, that many of them struggled with the first steps to get support, how to navigate the funding mazes, access to community programs etc.
So, instead of lamenting about how challenging this journey was for our families, Erin decided to offer a service to families (in her spare time ~ evenings/weekends) where in she uncovers some of the complexities, answers questions and provides clarity and sense of calm for families who are just starting on the ASD journey.
Within a short span of time, her business has blossomed to the point where she needed to make a bold decision about how her days were going to look. Erin loves her job at Sir Arthur Currie, but she also sees the significant need to support these families. So, with confidence and conviction she has decided to work part time at school and part time with her own business. She is forging a path where her passions are converging and I’m so proud of her.
If you have a newly diagnosed child with ASD or know of anyone about to begin this journey, please check out her FaceBook page and reach out for information.
Today, we had a visit from Peggy Sattler, our MPP and Sheri Moore, one of our School Board trustees. Erin was excited to connect with Peggy as she has been a strong advocate for families as they learn how to navigate the Ontario Autism Program model and recently, on the parliament floor, Peggy referenced one of the families who has become a client of Erin’s.
Peggy was thrilled with the connection and appreciative of Erin’s work (both at the school level and within her business). Sheri, who has a personal connection to ASD, then entered into the conversation to share another resource for young adults with ASD, Jake’s House. Erin’s eyes lit up as she was learning about another resource that she can add to the plethora of supports that she is providing families.
That’s one of the exciting things about forging new paths; you’re not confined to traditional ways of doing things and established mindsets. You get to twist the storyline and create your own destiny. Kudos to Erin for shaping her storyline with passion, persistence, and purpose!