Meet the ECAC Staff – Terri Leyton
What brought you to ECAC and tell us about your current role?
I have a daughter with Down syndrome and had been working for a Down Syndrome Association for several years. After she joined the Special Olympics and we met more people with a variety of intellectual disabilities, I wanted to work for an organization that serves a wider audience. I joined the team at ECAC in 2017 as the Technical Assistance Coordinator for the Region 2 (now Region B) Parent Technical Assistance Center.
In this role, I work with a Technical Assistance Team to address administrative or management challenges in Parent Centers and provide professional development opportunities so that Parent Center staff can meet the ongoing needs of families of children with disabilities. More recently, I have also been managing a project that assists families of children in Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education along with the professionals who serve them.
Why do you love being a part of ECAC?
I love being part of ECAC because we are providing support to families when they are feeling vulnerable navigating the special education system or the medical system and seeking the appropriate services for their child or children. I know what it feels like to be asking, "Now what?" We can ease some of the burdens that parents feel when they don't know what to do or where to go next.
What is the most memorable event you have attended with ECAC?
I have been involved with planning and implementing a few conferences while at ECAC and they are always very rewarding to offer educational opportunities for anyone who wants to be a life-long learner. The conferences that I'm the most proud of are the ones we did virtually because that was not something we had ever done before and it felt very difficult at first, but then after we looked back on it we realized it wasn't so bad.
What keeps you motivated and inspired?
That passion and compassion that my colleagues have for helping others is very motivating and inspiring! When we meet weekly to discuss some of the situations that families are experiencing in the school districts, it reinforces how much we are needed.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to the parents you work with?
You know your child better than anyone else. If a situation doesn't seem right to you, ask questions. Whether you are asking doctors, therapists, teachers, principals, or any other community member just keep trying to figure out a solution to the situation. I know how much you can sometimes feel let down and beaten down by all of the systems. Eventually, you will find the right person that will help make it better.
Tell us more about your life outside of ECAC.
I have a husband, a daughter and a son. We spend a lot of time on the soccer field between both kids and my daughter is also involved with track and field. I try to go to the gym when their schedules allow and I'm an avid reader. My favorite author is John Steinbeck and lately I have been into Colleen Hoover's books.
One thing people may not know about me…
I went to college to be a meteorologist and I worked as a weather forecaster for a few years.