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International Organization for Individuals with Exceptions Creates New Chapter in Southwest Florida
11/21/2002

FORT MYERS, FL - Parents, teachers and school administrators who work with children in special education now have a new local chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children, the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities or the gifted.

Gulf Coast Chapter #270 serves the special education community in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. On April 3, the Florida Federation of the CEC officially recognized the chapter, which was formed by the College of Education at Florida Gulf Coast University and the Southwest Florida Comprehensive System of Personnel Development Partnership.

“There has been a student chapter on campus for several years but when students graduated there was not a local chapter for them to transfer to,” CSPD program assistant Margaret Sullivan said.

The CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides continual professional development, advocates for newly and historically underserved individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.

Patty O’Grady, who is serving as interim secretary for the chapter, urges parents and professionals to join and for the community to lend its support. “This gives all of us the chance to come together and make a difference in the lives of children and youth with disabilities. The chapter motto is ‘one person can make a difference’.”

Each of the chapter’s five counties has a president, vice president and two chapter representatives, in addition to other elected regional leadership positions. The chapter is planning bi-annual meetings at the regional level and monthly meetings in each county, and all meetings include other educational events. Currently, the chapter is disseminating a newsletter, recruiting members and building an electronic distribution database.

Florida CEC members who reside in Southwest Florida are invited to transfer their membership to the Gulf Coast Chapter by contacting the CEC national membership website at .

New members may visit the same website to join or contact the CSPD office for an application. Individuals should be certain to affiliate with Gulf Coast Chapter #270 on the application.

To learn more about national CEC, visit .

For more information on the Gulf Coast Chapter, contact O’Grady at (941) 590-7748.

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