Episode #199: Kristen Eccleston

Dana GoodierOut of the Trenches Podcast

My next guest is Dr. Kristen C. Eccleston (aka The NeuroDiverse Teacher). Her areas of passion, expertise and research focus on examining adolescent mental health impairments in the education environment, and she is well versed in the needs of the neurodiverse brain. Additionally, her professional experiences include in-class teaching at the secondary levels and designing and directing a specialized program for secondary students with mental health needs (check out her YouTube video).

She has a Doctor of Education in Mind, Brain, & Teaching from Johns Hopkins University, a Master of Science in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University, and a Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration from Hood College. Currently, she’s an Adjunct Professor at Towson University in their Secondary and Special Education Graduate Programs and work as an Education Consultant to families and education technology companies. She’s a National Board-Certified Teacher, Exceptional Needs Specialist, and holds an Advanced Professional Educator Certificate.

Trench story: was a sped teacher for almost 20 yrs. Last post was as a Secondary Program Specialist. Then a director for sped, designed for students with mental health (MH) needs. She now works as an educational advocate. Had 58 students when it should have only been a 48 student program. St’s would have otherwise been put in private placements. Needed academic supports. St’s who were showing schizophrenia, self-harming signs. Had 1 social worker for entire program. Was putting out fires. More of a central office issue. Principal was great. Felt very alone, in trenches. Had worked with bringing in truant students to school. It was a $ saver for the county.

Talk about her edu consulting through Weinfeld Education Group. Director of SEL servies there. She is a partner, directs SEL services there. Trench story was awakening. It needed to be bigger than her small piece of the world. Predominantly works with students who have MH issues. White House had a press release about youth mental health crisis. School doesn’t have to be favorite thing in the world. Schools don’t refer out to, mostly it’s families, child doesn’t get services in school. Does brain development, advocate, expert witness work. Helps corporations as well.

Was a director of sped (for Montgomery County PS, outside D.C.) was a program specialist. She felt like you were constantly having to fight for procedures, processes, why we’re doing it this or that way. Prior to the pandemic there was a struggle but it’s now gotten worse. You felt like “ugly stepchild”. A principal early in her career said “you chose to be sped teacher, you should expect to be hit by students”. Was treated like a 2nd class citizen.

She hosts The Neurodiverse Podcast-released every Friday: She has guests, mix of authors, influencers, or ppl who are neurodiverse themselves. Had Clarissa Burt- top model. Hamish Hallot, promoter of auditory processing disorder. It’s about youth to connect with other educators who are neurodiverse. See how ppl have managed to be successful. “I don’t want to be different or seen as different”. She wants to share “stand out” message.

Doctoral research in mental health setting- why some students are not identified. Pieces that came out- t’s not having a good understanding around what MH is and what it looks like. Most teachers want to learn more, understand. They need to be provided the time to see what it can look like. Legislators aren’t spending time with students. White House plan wasn’t about helping teachers.

Edu advocacy aspect-areas she’d like to share- links around MH & neurodiversity. It comes down to a lot of neurodiverse st’s don’t fit into one size fits all education. A lot of those kids tend to do very well. Have parents validate their strengths. Once they get to post-secondary they will find their own. A lot of neurodiverse people mask their differences. F.ex. Simone Biles.

Out of everything…you are amazing individuals. Everyone else has things they’re dealing with. We’re all in this together. We need to come up with solutions to make this a better world. Click To Tweet

Find Kristen online? www.theneurodiverseteacher.com  IG/TikTok @theneurodiverseteacher

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/eSoeeTh2qh8



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