Anne Marcus
December 21, 2023

2023 wrapped! On to 2024. A letter from our Co-Founder and CEO

What we learned this year: Schools and SPED families want to work together. But easier said than done. Here’s how we’re supporting both schools and families.

​​Dear friends,

Since Exceptional Lives was founded 10 years ago, we have focused on supporting parents and caregivers of children and youth with disabilities. Some of the most powerful voices we heard this year included the 15 members of our Family Feedback Team and the more than 250 of you who reached out to our Family Support Team.

So many of the families we’ve talked to are looking for help with Special Education. Every day, we heard questions like:

Our take-away? We need to support schools and families in working together more effectively.

When families and schools collaborate in support of children with disabilities, everyone wins. But this is easier said than done.

Educators are juggling way too many demands.

Schools are understaffed.

Families are overloaded and many struggle to understand complicated legal jargon.

And when families have limited literacy skills or limited English proficiency, it’s that much harder.

Here’s how we’re supporting both families and schools:

We launched a brand-new, mobile-friendly website

Families can find answers to your questions about every stage of your child’s life. Developmental screening? Sleep questions? Life after high school? It’s here.

Schools can access tools for improving your relationships and collaboration with your Special Education families.

We’re developing new tools for school districts and educators.

A Family-Friendly Communication Check-Up will provide an assessment and concrete strategies for improving your team’s communication with Special Education families

Training and professional development sessions can help you identify best practices for collaborating and communicating with families

We secured a new 3-year grant from the Louisiana Department of Education.

Families will have access to Louisiana-specific tools,  including our content on the transition into school for young children with disabilities and our statewide, bilingual Disability Services Finder.

School districts can partner with us to improve the clarity and accessibility of their online special education content for parents.

We’ve stayed focused on accessibility.

Many of our resources are available in Spanish as well as English and we are expanding our Spanish-language resources every day. Check out new Spanish-language Special Education resources and our Family Stories.

We use plain language and family-friendly communication in all our content so it’s easy for everyone to understand. 

All of our online resources are designed to the highest standards of accessibility.

Through all of this, we have stayed true to our core principle of providing all of our family content in the voice of a trusted, compassionate friend and learning from lived experiences. And you’ve told us what you most need.

In the past few months alone, you’ve consulted our resources about SSI and other financial issues more than 14,000 times. You’ve accessed our Special Education resources more than 10,000 times. And you’ve consulted our articles about 504 plans and the difference between 504s and IEPs more than 7,500 times.

We need your support to make sure we can continue to help school systems and families work together to support children with disabilities. Here’s how you can help:

Donate Now

Tell us your story – what you and your child have learned can help other families.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn.

From all of us at Exceptional Lives, please accept our best wishes for a healthy, safe, and peaceful 2024.

  • Anne Punzak Marcus

    Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

    Anne Punzak Marcus has over ten years of experience working with organizations focused on brain disorders, education, and health. Before transitioning to the not-for-profit sector, she was a portfolio manager and research director at Fidelity Investments.

    Anne has actively participated on the boards of several educational institutions, including a private K-8 school, a charter K-8 school, and the foundation board of a public high school. She was the chair of the Special Education parent’s advisory council for her son’s public elementary school. Anne was a 2012 and 2013 Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow. She earned her MBA from the Wharton School after receiving her BS from Boston College.

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