June Member of the Month

TawnyaWe are delighted this month to honor Tawnya Roesner as our member of the month! Tawnya has been a member of IDA for many years and has most recently been instrumental in helping IDA create our social media presence. Tawnya also has been mentoring our UCLA intern Nicole Meron and creating the fabulous graphics you see on our Instagram account.

Tawnya’s story is a true testament to the power of networking that a professional organization like IDA affords, and as well as the collaborative nature that a social media platform like Instagram enables.

Like many professionals working in early intervention, personal experiences and relationships led Tawnya to this career path. Tawnya started out working as a preschool teacher and then decided to go back to college for a career change. She said her attraction to special education was influenced by working initially as a caregiver for a child with cerebral palsy and having a father who was a physical therapist and a sister who was an occupational therapist. Tawnya responded to a newspaper ad for Parent Infant Programs looking for someone interested in working with toddlers and infants. As they explained to Tawnya, come with us on a few home visits because that is the only way for you to understand what we do. The rest, as they say, is history. She fell in love with the job and was an early intervention provider for many years.

When Tawnya began her EI career in 1996, Sharon Chesnut, the founder of Parent Infant Programs, brought Tawnya and other team members to the IDA Annual Conference for their early intervention training. (Fun fact: Sharon’s son Matt Chesnut who now heads Parent Infant Programs is on our board and an active member of our policy committee) Tawnya explained that training was hard to come by in the rural area where she lives so IDA filled that gap for their early intervention team. In 2004, Tawnya decided to pursue a Master's in Special Education. Tawnya said she’d never intended to work in a school district. However, about nine years ago a group of special education teachers from her small rural school district, SCOE (Shasta County Office of Education) retired and she was encouraged to apply for the job. Tawnya went on to get her teaching credential and has been working with SCOE ever since. She said she was attracted to SCOE because it afforded her an opportunity to work as part of an interdisciplinary team and learn more about best practices.

Tawnya talked about the challenges of working in a rural community and changing the mindset of what early intervention evidence-based practice looks like. Tawnya liked that even in the early 2000s SCOE was already implementing best practice by getting rid of the “giant toy bag” and using routine- based intervention to support the caregiver. The ECSE teachers began convincing the caregiver that they really are providing the intervention and the early intervention service providers are there to support that.

At an IDA conference about three years ago Tawnya met Cindy Collado, Assistant Professor at Sacremento State. Tawnya had been interested in teaching adults about early intervention and Cindy had an opportunity for Tawnya to supervise students who are pursuing their ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) credential. Tawnya talked about the fun part of working with people entering the world of early intervention. Tawnya wishes more people knew more about early intervention because as she eloquently said, “We are the best-kept secret.”

Tawnya was interested in joining our social media committee because of her interest in Instagram. Tawnya is a book blogger on Instagram and she liked the visual aspect that Instagram provides with pictures, especially compared to other social media platforms. Social media is so important to young students and parents and how they connect with each other. She thinks that Instagram is a great way for them to participate with IDA.

We are incredibly grateful to Tawnya for her years of membership and her amazing work in creating a consistent IDA brand and engaging messaging to our IDA members on social media.