In today's episode, recorded live at the CEC 100th Anniversary, we sit down with Dr. Luann Purcell. In the past 48 years, she has dedicated her life to learning, leading, and progressing in education. She is currently the president of Luann Purcell, LLC, where she consults and is a strategic analyst for educational and associational organizations. Her tag sums up her current professional philosophy: Learning, Leading and Progressing.
In her position, she is currently consulting and advising administrators on best practices for leadership and development of quality programs for students with disabilities, advocating at the governmental level to assure appropriate legislation to facilitate the development and maintenance of quality programs for students with disabilities; and speaking on leadership, legislative/policy updates, attitude adjustment, the passion in compassion, and other current education issues.
Dr. Purcell has had various experiences throughout her 48 years in education, including experience as a teacher of students with emotional and behavioral disorders, coordinator at a regional educational service center, and assistant superintendent. Luann has been very active in CEC from the chapter level through the international level. She believes strongly in the local chapter to promote teacher retention and quality!
Tune in as Drs. Rebecca Hines and Lisa Dieker honor, celebrate, and reflect on Dr. Purcell's career, the Council of Exceptional Education (CEC) 's past 100 years while also thinking ahead to the future. Don't forget we love to hear from our listeners! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We look forward to receiving your questions on our Google Phone (407) 900- 9305, Facebook (Practical Access), Twitter (@AccessPractical), or Instagram (@Practical_Access).
Lisa Dieker 0:07
Welcome to practical access. I'm Lisa Dieker.
Rebecca Hines 0:09
And I'm Rebecca Heinz. And Lisa, why don't you introduce today's legacy?
Lisa Dieker 0:16
So I have with us both a legacy of the field and a dear friend, Luann Purcell. Thank you for joining us. Luann.
Dr. Luann Purcell 0:22
Oh, it's my delight. Yeah. So
Lisa Dieker 0:23
Luann has been a teacher in the superintendent's office. And probably one of your immediate legacies is being the director of case the Council of administrators of special ed for more than a decade.
How's that? Almost two decades, decades, right. 18 years,
18 years. So, Luann, you've seen a lot of wonderful things happen. And you know, we're celebrating 100 years of the CEC organization. kind of curious, if you think back of all your wonderful legacy activities, what do you think was your most proud of or was most impactful in your career?
Dr. Luann Purcell 0:59
I would have to say, See, I started out as a general education teacher never really had ever even heard a special education. My very first year teaching and I was only 19. I had a student in my homeroom, who was nonverbal. And so he was only there for homeroom. But I think I made a pretty big impact on him because I, I had surgery and was out for about six, eight weeks. And when I came back, his teacher came to me and said that Charles had made me something. And that was the first time I ever knew about children who had special needs in schools. Then I moved my husband, I moved to Warner, robins house and County, Georgia, and I taught history. And then at the end of my first year, my principal came and said, We're gonna have this new class. And since you never send anybody to the office for discipline, we'd like you to be the new behavior disorder teacher. And I said, Well, I have to go to school, he said, I'm afraid. So I said, I'll take it. I'm a perpetual student. And so that was, but I had not one single class in special education. But we had a local CC chapter 878, I still remember the number. And they named it, Ellen maltose, after the assistant superintendent at the time, and I was in a closet, didn't have air conditioning or heat, didn't even have a plugin. And it was just, it was just really one of those things. But I remember that the teachers in our county, there weren't very many, because this was back in 74. They took me under their wing, and we did make and take workshops, and they would just bring all of their materials. And I don't think I would have lasted as a teacher one year had it not been for that local chapter. That's wonderful.
Rebecca Hines 2:53
That's actually a great and very heartening story, that's a good reminder to our listeners to get involved with your CEC chapters, because there's a lot of support there.
Dr. Luann Purcell 3:03
Well, it wasn't just a support, they also trained me how to be a leader, because you know, it was a small group of people. And so I was it wasn't too big of a job for me to be the, in fact, my very first job was to be the chair of exceptional child, we, and the first involvement I had with politics. And you know that with case I did an awful lot of that with advocacy was to get the mayor of our town to sign a proclamation for exceptional child week. And then I moved up membership, President Elect president, all of those things, and that, but it was a safe environment. So then I moved to the state level with leadership, and then to the national international level. And so I think the local chapters really are where we get our leaders from.
Rebecca Hines 3:49
Yeah, that's a good that's a great point. Yeah. And I'm gonna, I'm gonna circle back to something that you were mentioning about your background in schools, and also now your knowledge and experience as an administrator. Let's say I'm a new special education teacher. What do you think I need to do to advocate for myself with administration to get the things that I need for the students that I'm serving?
Dr. Luann Purcell 4:15
Well, we just had the legacy luncheon here. And I had a table and and I purposely chose people of color and young. And so because that's, to me, that's what legacy is, is to build forward. But there were three tables, one full table from Georgia, and of the seven people four, were folks that I hired as teachers, and now they're administrators. And and they were all saying she hired me. And, you know, I think that as a teacher, it's sometimes intimidating, especially the first year teacher, and I think that if you can connect with that local chapter, and even if you even if you don't have a lot local chapter, you could start a local chapter, but by by being part of a community, then you have one a greater sense that it's not just you. And so you have a little more empowerment to ask that administrator. But also, I think it shows that you have initiative, and that you want to learn more and be a part of that. And I think that when you go and ask an administrator for something or advocate for your classroom, that if you if you have that knowledge, and you can get that knowledge from exceptional child, you know, from teaching exceptional child, you know, the different resources that CDC has. And so I think that that's really important to be able to, to not just have a problem, but to have a solution, you know, or maybe multiple solutions and say, you know, Dr. Purcell, I have this problem in my classroom, and this is what it is. And I'm, I think if I just had a one more resource, if I just, if I could just pull some of these students at a different time, or are to have some suggestions, then that administrator doesn't feel like they're the monkeys been put on there by, but they have some options, and they know what direction the teacher is going in.
Lisa Dieker 6:13
So you know, I know you have so much wisdom in not just policy, but in working with administrators for those 18 years, and I so imagine for a moment, you know, this great resignation that we have going on. And I'm all excited, I was a teacher leader. And now I'm plopped in and in charge of a building because I have a principals or an AP experience. But I'm left with all these initiatives and all these units and all these legal, where do I start to get my synergy and my strength to not only meet the needs of my building, but start to advocate beyond my building? Where Where do you recommend that advocacy, and that anchoring, start for those new administrators that are like, Oh, I'm here, and there's so much going on?
Dr. Luann Purcell 6:58
Well, you know, I know, I sound like a broken record here. But it's because I, you know, I've seen this over, you know, I retired with 30 years in the school district, I worked 18 years with case. And now I'm on my next three years as a consultant. So I have kind of a long, broad view. And I really believe that associations are the strength they give you, they give you that support, they give you that content. And if you're an admin, a special education administrator, even if you, you don't have all the degrees, but you have some of those functions, then then I say you need to belong to case, and you need to belong to the state or provincial unit. That's in your your area. Because they have they know your rules and regulations. And they've, they've been where you are, and they can really help. But the national international organization also has lots of lots of materials and resources, I'm so proud. That case, really, at the beginning of the pandemic, they were doing a webinar every other week, you know, on Fridays, and they, you know, they thought they could just do it for a little bit, then they ended up having to do it for a long time. And they really made those adjustments. And and I think that, that that's that and that's all, you know, pretty much volunteer leadership. But that volunteer leadership trains you to do other things, too. My husband used to say, Why do you get on all these committees? And I said, Well, you know, he said, you're out of the district all the time. I said, but I know things before everybody else does. So I can then prepare my teachers for it. And and so there are so many advantages to being an active volunteer in your professional association.
Rebecca Hines 8:40
And I think that's, that's a really important point, not one that Lisa and I have said a lot about over the course of our podcast, and you very well articulated it in this in this meeting is getting involved because ours is a small on the scheme of a big school. Sometimes we're in a really small section, and you have to find strength somewhere. And if if you don't feel like you have it in house, expand and if you do have it in house, get those people to help you go even larger. That's great point.
Lisa Dieker 9:19
Yeah. And so my you know, my last question for you would be where are we going? If you think 50 100 years, the next decade, what are you what are you thinking for leaders and special ed, what's your vision? What's your hope? What do you think's next?
Dr. Luann Purcell 9:38
Well, I don't know what's next. But But I do think that we're at a point in time, and you know, there's some awful things about the pandemic, but there are also some great things about the pandemic. We have come so far and our use of electronics and of computers and, and people can no longer say, Well, I don't want to do that. You know, because you never know When you're gonna have to go virtual or whatever. And so, you know, good teaching, we've always said good teaching is good teaching. But there are some new things that we're able to get a hold of, because we've had to expand our skill level. And, and so I think it no other time has there been as much resource available to our teachers, and our administrators. I think that really, because parents ended up having to teach kids, they have a better respect and understanding of what happens in the classroom. And I think that that's a place of support that we can have. I think, because of the so many of the shortages, not just because we had shortages, but then because people get sick. And we've had people have to assume these kind of roles, and they go, Oh, my God, I don't know how to do this job. And so they have a better respect for those folks. And they, it takes it takes everybody, everybody has an importance. And so I think that, you know, evidence based practices, the high leverage practices, you know, we have, we know how to do this, we just have to have the will to do it. And to me, a lot of that has to do with our self help, you know, we need to take care of ourselves. And we don't need to get depressed. And and again, I'm, no, I'm a broken record, I go back to the association's, you know, you just have this family, this community that that lifts you up and is proud for you and proud with you. And we had an are at my table, we I picked the one of the VIP that we'll see. Folks that got the the scholarship, and she's a first year teacher. And she was so excited, she was sitting next to Lori Vander ploeg. You know, what a, what a professional Hi, she may not even recognize it now, but one that she's going to look at, oh, my goodness, look who I was sitting with. And her professor came up to me, and said, I just want to thank you for inviting her and giving her this experience. And, you know, I was able to do that, because that was a part of this profession. And she was able to do it because she was a part of the profession at two different, you know, ends of the spectrum. But we got, I got so much out of that. And when I handed my card to the professor, she says, Oh, my goodness, I met you so many years ago. And you know, I didn't even realize that it was you. And you know, to know that you've had kind of that influence. You know, that's, that's worth more than money. And, and what you have to understand is that influence, it's all boiling down to the student. And that's what's important. And so, you know, I used to tell my teachers, when you get a positive note, put it in one of those clear shoe boxes, put it up on a shelf. And when you're having a really bad day, look up at that shoe box. And remember that kind word somebody said to you. And and that's what we need to help teachers understand that they can't get their roses from everybody every day. But those roses can be preserved and pulled out when they need it later.
Lisa Dieker 13:14
All right. Well, we thank you so much for joining us and taking time out of what I know is a busy conference for you and all the work that you've done in the field. We appreciate your legacy Luann. And thank you so much. Well, thank
Dr. Luann Purcell 13:26
you, Lisa. Thank you. I really appreciate all you have done over the years and I really, really appreciate this.
Lisa Dieker 13:33
Thank you. So if you have questions, please send us a Tweet at Access practical or you can send us a message on our Facebook at practical access. Thank you again Luann.