photograph of Joy Zabala

My name is Joy Zabala. I am currently an Educational Specialist/Senior Consultant at Region IV Education Service Center in Houston, Texas, where my primary responsibility is collaborative provision of capacity-building Assistive Technology professional development and technical assistance to the fifty-six school districts within our service area. In addition, our center provides statewide leadership in Assistive Technology for the twenty Education Service Centers located throughout Texas.

I've been in education and assistive technology support for quite a while, including over fifteen years in general education, a dozen years in special education; and, two years in the private sector providing assistive technology devices and services. In attempting to provide assistive technology services that "worked" for a variety of students in diverse settings with differing levels of support, I often pondered why things "worked" sometimes and failed so miserably at others. Over time I realized that if MY dreams, expectations and goals for my students - no matter how lofty and well-intentioned - were not aligned with those of the students, their families, and the variety of professionals who were working with them, there would be disappointments and, often, the assumption that the responsibility for success or failure lay with someone else! This lack of alignment, and no clearly understood means to work toward it, often meant that enormous effort was made toward cross-purposes with no lasting positive results for students. There had to be a better way!

Though conversations with colleagues, students and families, patterns of "what worked" emerged - collaboration at every phase of the process; consideration of by who, where, and for what a system would be used; shared proble\m identification and problem-solving; joint responsibility for planning and implementation; and, always, the mutual respect and trust that celebrated steps forward and tolerated false starts and redirection. The SETT Framework emerged as a possible means of promoting awareness and use of these collected ideas across groups with varied experience and expertise in considering assistive technology .

But, that's enough deep thinking for me right now! We will have lots of time for that in the coming weeks! I would like for you to get to know ME a little, as I want to know you, for I believe that we cannot fully understand each other professionally if we are not invited to see each other as people and understand a bit of what brought us to today.

As an undergraduate at the University of Florida, I studied with Dr. William Purkey, who changed my perspective forever with his invitational ideas and techniques for discovering and bringing forth human potential. As a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Emmy Lou Widmer, with her enormous and unfailing respect for children, contributed to my professional and personal growth. During additional studies in language acquisition, special education, and technology, inviting professors and colleagues caused me to challenge my assumptions and move forward. At this juncture, I am contemplating doctoral studies and exploring options - Any ideas?

My family is my greatest joy! My husband, Adrian, has made a quantum professional leap from a thriving career in international commerce to teaching in a bilingual third grade classroom. He believes he can "make a difference!" there and I have no doubt of it! Though our only resident "children" are two Pugs, we live just a couple of hours from our older daughter, Gaye, her husband, Richard Linford, and our grandchildren, Amanda (aged 3) and Jacob (aged 11 months) - superlative children in every way, OF COURSE! Our younger daughter, Jennifer, and her husband, Carlton Monroe, are graduate students at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Though Cincinnati is far from Houston, we cannot complain. Cincinnati is much closer than Salzburg, Austria, where they lived last year while Jennifer was a Fulbright Scholar at the Mozarteum.

That's me, for better or worse! Now I am looking forward to learning more . 

[Preparing for the Virtual Team Meeting]

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998.

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.