Congrats to the 2015 Alternative Educator of the Year!

Randall Botkin wins The IAAE Educator of the Year Award!

Educator of the Year ~ The Educator of the Year is presented annually to the alternative educator who is making a significant contribution to alternative education in Iowa. This award will honor one individual each year who is making an outstanding contribution to his/her students, school and community. Any alternative education teacher, supervisor, administrator, or counselor may be nominated.

IAAE Educator of the Year 2015 Goes to Mr. B!

Randy has taught in the Des Moines Public System for 22 years!

Here’s some of the good words from his nomination letters:

  • During my time as a colleague Randy has exemplified what it means to be a teacher in an alternative setting.
  • Randy has great rapport with students and families.
  • He has the ability to connect with his students and motivate them to do their best.
  • Over the 22 years of his teaching career he has been a major influence in the lives of students in Des Moines.
  • Randy has taught all subject areas and grade levels as a special education teacher to courses such as cooking, parenting and woodshop. 
  • His background and work ethic support a learning environment that all students can learn and achieve at high levels.

~ Richard Blonigan, Principal, Scavo High School. Rich has worked with Randy from 2000-2003 in a teaching role and is currently the high school’s principal.

Here’s more!:

  • Randy is a humble man, but the work he does is amazing.
  • Randy never gave up on any student.
  • He always encouraged and engaged and graduated most of them. He worked with the student who have the “worst” behavior in Des Moines.
  • Randy is the first person to volunteer and support staff and students.
  • The work we do is difficult, but Randy never lets it get him down. 
  • He is consistent and positive in the face of any potential obstacle.

~ Randi Oleson, Principal – District Wide Programs, Des Moines Public Schools, written March 31, 2015. Randi worked directly with Randy for 9 years. 

2015-03-21 13.43.44To A Favorite Educator!

If you recall, I let you know I was saving a secret. Well, now’s the time to share more good news! This January 2015, Randy accepted the position of transition coordinator for Scavo High School (he’ll continue to teach as well.)

With his expertise (ahh, he still needs to take courses through Drake), skills and most importantly knowledge of our educational system (and his love for his career), he will assist me with life care plans that involve school age children and those who are transitioning on into adulthood and into the workforce!

More to come, but here’s Mr. B in action (yes this shot is staged) and was taken over winter break on 1/2/15 in his new classroom at Central Campus!

2015-01-02 12.34.17

Mr. B!

Please let me know if you need a life care plan involving an adult or a child. I promise to provide the most detailed and worthy plan for consideration.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

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It Finally Arrived! My Forensic Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Certificate!

I’ve been waiting for my graduate certificate in Forensic Rehabilitation Counseling from The George Washington University! It finally arrived in my mail box!

Forensic Rehabilitation Counseling graduate certificate
Forensic Rehabilitation Counseling graduate certificate

FRC Graduate Certificate

The FRC program took well over a year, and I’m happy to move forward with new and exciting forensic areas in my consulting practice. Forensic Rehabilitation Counseling is valuable in cases including personal injury, medical malpractice, life care planning, marital dissolution, product liability, and catastrophic injury. Although I’ve had some experience in these areas, I’m ready to take more cases on!

2014-09-29 16.10.51GWU’s colors are blue & buff!

The weird thing is the certificate is printed in portrait orientation and not landscape, which all my other (I need to look up and to my left and count) 6 framed certificates look like. Okay, the other 6 (so exciting I know, but this helps me document them!) ~

  • High School Equivalency Diploma, State of Iowa, November 10, 1981
  • Ellsworth Community College Certificate of Graduation, One-Year Secretarial Business Program, May 23, 1981  (Yes, the dates are correct, I went to ECC “before” I graduated from high school….they….I guess the State, made me wait to get my GED certificate even though I had already passed the test…which I had to before I could enroll at ECC!)
  • Bachelor of Science, Community Health Education, Iowa State University, August 5, 1995
  • Master of Science, Drake University, School of Education, December 17, 2004
  • Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, Number 71256 (I just renewed this certificate and got it in the mail the other day, too…I need to replace the old one that’s framed!)
  • Certified Life Care Planner, International Commission on Health Care Certification, Number 1130 (it’s valid through February 28, 2016!)

Oh, there’s also my golf certificate from 1978! (It’s not really on the wall!)

GolfHuh, no coach and no principal signed it!?

I remember a hole-in-one at Highland Country Club in Iowa Falls. (Of course a hole-in-one will be an important part of my memory bank!!!)

I was golfing with Becky Tjaden, in a mother-daughter tourney (and my mom picked my sister Janice to play with!). I miss you Becky and treasure my memories of golfing with you….teaching and mentoring me on the course has helped me in so many ways….including in my career. BTW: Do you know there is golf forensics!?

Last hole in one was not that far removed from 1978

Using my golf game as an analogy, each stroke involves tapping into good judgment (more art than science which I’ve blogged on) when deciding which club to use! My swing (not nearly as perfect as my mom’s, or Becky’s was!) must involve practice, practice and practice. Knowing the lay of the course is important along with the weather and the ground conditions. So is knowing who’s in front of you and who’s behind you. Knowing the rules is invaluable as is keeping perfect score. Of course, are you an ethical golfer!?!  Ahemmmm

Have fun with your career and in your golf game!

Yes, the stakes are high in forensic rehabilitation counseling, and yes they can be in a golf game. It may be like getting out of the rough on the last hole of a golf tournament, and you never know if you’ve made the right choice until it’s too late to change your mind. To play to win (or at least to beat your opponent by a stroke or 2!) keep certain basic principles in mind, use your best judgment, your best methodology, your best attitude, and have fun!

Let me know how I might help with a litigated case that would benefit from my involvement. I love preparing Life Care Plans. (I can also critique a plan that landed on your desk!) A Life Care Plan can become the hole-in-one to your case!

Contact me at 515-282-7753 or vocresources@gmail.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

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Preparing to Graduate…Again!

Just an update to let my readers know I am nearly done with my most recent learning adventure through George Washington University….that lasted well over a year! I certainly learned a lot about forensics rehabilitation consulting, and really appreciate my cohort comprised of really smart rehabilitation counselors across the country!

There are students from the great states of Iowa (me!), Texas, Ohio, Washington, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, the District of Columbia, and who am I missing? Kansas?!

 

BeautifulOur Beautiful Country is so Colorful!

I’ve been in all our states but Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. This was traveling done mostly as a youngster, in the back of a station wagon with the entire family (oh, the memories!).

Back to the current times Amy….! During the forensic rehabilitation coursework, I placed heavy emphasis on the study of ethics. Because I feel comfortable with my own ethics, in turn I feel comfortable with forming my own opinions (and expert ones at that!)

One ethics paper I prepared in October, 2013 for the course Foundations of Forensics Rehabilitation Counseling II (COUN 6396) emphasized Ethics, Values and Character Surrounding My Career in Private Practice.

In another ethics paper I submitted in Spring 2014 for the course Law and the Rehabilitation Counseling II (COUN 6396), I analyzed Ethics and Vocational Reports. Specifically, I critiqued a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and his USE OF TESTING INSTRUMENTS in VOCATIONAL EVALUATIONS.

Along with submitting my paper to GWU, I also submitted it to a professor from the great State of Washington who teaches ASSESSMENTS to master’s level rehabilitation counseling students. I received powerful feedback from her.

 Knowledge

I am happy to share what I’ve learned and how it can be best applied to meet your litigation needs. My papers are available, just ask and I’ll see if you really want to read all about it! Call me at 515-282-7753 or email vocresources@gmail.com.   Or easier yet, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’ve posted them there!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

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Intimidators: Tailgaters, Drunken Jerks or Glaring Attorneys? Need an Expert?

Remember the last time someone tried to intimate you? How about when a person (like a careless driver tailgating, or the drunken jerk in front of you standing in line for a beer) may think they can make you do something or react in some way? Exceed the posted speed limit ~ NOPE! Pay attention to public intoxication ~ NOT INTERESTED! Say something you didn’t mean to, HA!

uckr cup

Go ahead be one, but don’t think I care!

Recently I received a pretty mean facial expression/glaring eyes/stare down/stern voice/condescending attitude and a critical tone to the long litany of questions from an attorney during multiple cross examination (this blog originally posted ~4/8/2013!). I knew he was trying to intimidate me. HA!

But, I answered all his questions calmly. (I love it when the attorney can’t even remember what they asked me and have to refer to the court reporter) and stuck to my guns (aka: my knowledge base) during my expert testimony. Simply put: I know what I’m talking about. I know my job.  One role of my job, especially when on the witness stand, is to educate.

mmBring it on!

I have never been intimated much by people (places, things or even animals either for that matter.) Okay, okay, I am intimidated by Mother Nature, especially when she zooms a mesocyclone or other tornado like activity our way. Mother Nature is a Force to be Feared! Treat Her with Utmost Respect!! 

I have always been able to speak my mind (ask anyone who knows me) and yes it’s gotten me in a pickle or two from time to time. I try to express whatever is on my mind being mindful of who I’m communicating with, the content of my speech/body language, and the context of how/when my message is delivered.

PeacockThere is truly a difference between a cocky person and a confident person.

I like to accept my confidence with the work I do and grow in it every day. Seriously, my role on the stand allows me to serve as an expert witness & educator all while consulting within the scope of my practice. I keep a placement and quality of life orientation at the forefront of any topic. 

And of course, learning more about how to serve as an expert witness will only help me to help others. I’ve applied to The George Washington University to study for a graduate certificate in Forensics Rehabilitation Counseling. I’ll keep you posted if I’m accepted! 

Endnote dated 8/15/2017: Yes, I was accepted….and yes I graduated from GWU….and yes I learned a lot! and continue to learn about myself and my role in life, and my beloved career more and more every day! Let me know how I might help you, attorney person, help your client.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

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My Grandma Jean Loved to Read Using 2nd Sight!

Did you know, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, that  women are nearly half  of our Nation’s workforce and more than half of our college graduates? Another interesting stat is the proportion of women with college degrees in the labor force has almost quadrupled since 1970. Guess what? My grandma Jean Dodge was a college graduate,!

I have fond memories of Grandma and she definitely was not boring! Jean lived in a condo, loved to golf, and drove a flashy red Corvair! She enjoyed going on vacations, including cruises too.

The color and model of Jean’s car matched her hair and her fingernails!

Grandma enjoyed spending time vacationing at her and Grandpa’s timeshare condo in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, soaking up the sun and feeding seagulls on the white sand beach. With outstretched arms, she’d hold a few pieces of cooked bacon high in the air and the gulls would swoop down and pluck the bacon from her fingers! At times she’d get a little swarmed and would have to back off the beach! Ahh, she loved Fort Walton Beach (me, too!)

Hey, there she is again, let’s go!

G’ma has a bachelor degree When she met her future husband Jack , they were both attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  It was  unusual for a young woman in those days (like the 30s) to attend college.

Image result for northwestern university chicago mascot

Willie the Wildcat ca 1960 (Northwestern U’s mascot)

In later life, G’ma Jean became legally blind. But, that did not stop her from reading. She constantly absorbed information and being visually handicapped allowed her to do things differently…and with a flair as usual!

My sister Julie brought over this article published  September 7, 1978 in a local Northbrook, Illnois newspaper. I wish I could see closer at which necklace she’s wearing, as Jean loved her jewelry!

Jean Dodge 2nd sight

Taped books offer 2nd sight

 Here’s excerpts from the news article ~

Like many avid readers, Jean P Dodge reads 3 or 4 books a week. Unlike most other readers, she reads with her ears. Mrs. Dodge awoke last Easter to find her vision gone, destroyed by an un-diagnosed illness. That still mystifies doctors. She is one of the few local person who make use of free special library services for the visually and physically handicapped.

The services include Braille and large type (twice the normal size) books, along with phonograph and cassette tape recordings of dramatic readings of books (Talking Books). All these services are available through the Northbrook Public Library 1201 Cedar Ln as well as most other Northshore libraries.

The Golden Notebook, The Black Path, Saffron Skies (I love titles!)

Mrs. Dodge, a self-described former “avid” reader of paperback fiction, said Talking Books serves as a psychological link to the life the 64-year Northbrooker enjoyed before developing impaired vision.

“I’ve been reading for about 60 years, so it (losing most of her vision) made quite a hole in my life. I read constantly. It was one of the greatest sources of my amusement. Talking Books made all the difference in the world to me. I feel so much more normal. It has made such a tremendous difference in life as far as getting back to where I used to do,” she said.

Mrs. Dodge learned about Talking Books from a daughter in law employed at Deerfield Public Library that also supplies the service admitted that without her new verbal world of reading “I would probably go nuts.”

“I would be a very bored and unhappy person. Radio and television would be my only options to pass the time. I can’t be in my car running around anymore,  so I have a lot of spare times. This fills the breach.” ~ the entire article was written by Richard Sheehan.

And so, Grandma, very nice article. Thank you for continuing to do what you loved while also loving all of us grandkids!  My grandma helped instill my love of reading. She even enrolled me in (and paid for it!) a book of the month club! It was great, books mailed right to me. Thank you for helping to shape my history grandma! 

Visit www.WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.

If I can help you help a client who’s lifestyle has changed due to disability or functional limitation, it’s important to look into new ways of enjoying hobbies and any other avocational activity.  A person should not have to lose out and be bored and unhappy (as g’ma said). If  a life care plan is in order, hobbies (and how they are viewed) in the person’s future can be included. Contact me to discuss your case.

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

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2013 Year of the Snake…Fear of em or Love of em?

My sister Julie has had problems with snake(s) in her basement during the summer months in the past. She has actually learned how to deal with it rather admirably. I’m not sure if she had one last year or not, but I didn’t hear about it. Julie knows how to save em and send em packing! Here’s a great article about What to Do About Snakes [if you find one in your house!]

There’s no justification for the persecution of these animals!

The point of this blog is not only to point out this is the year of the snake, but it is also to pay attention to what fears some people have. When I work with a client or assess an individual, it is likely that some type of fear, resentment, “issue”, or negative feelings are brought to the surface.

Therefore, it is important to make note of what fears [irrational or not] are part of a person’s daily living. By the way, snakes are great garden predators and only can benefit your garden (plus their droppings are excellent fertilizer since their prey is so well digested)!

Fear exists only in your mind and only in the future…

Fear can be defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Ultimately, all rehabilitation counselors have the same goal to help individuals cope and heal by altering their focus in life. We help others understand that although things may have altered dramatically, deep down, the person is still the same – a human with unique fantasies and fears, hopes and dreams, achievements and disappointments.

By working together to come to an understanding of the individual’s abilities and limitations, rehabilitation counselors can help the individual work through the various stages of loss…and emerge on the other side with a fresh outlook on life and the determination to make it through whatever challenges the disability may throw their way.

Read the Full Page: Rehabilitation Counseling – Rehabilitation Counselors  AllAboutCounseling.com

At a recent brain injury rehabilitation conference, the key note speaker stressed “most people will learn to live with the changes in their life if they explore and  focus on the “new you.”

Will this be the Year to Address Your Fear?

I am a fearful when Mother Nature exudes her wrath upon Earth, being relentless and there’s no stopping Her during a scary storm.  But clearly all one can do when She strikes is to be prepared. Make sense? Be prepared, get help and know what you can do to help yourself and your family if fear gets in your way of daily living.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

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Seeking Help from Others…Michael from Malaysia and Eeyore from Pooh Corner!

Okay, next up to blog about is the Microeconomics for Non-Biology majors course I took in the Spring of 1995. Although I took micro and macroeconomics during my DMACC days (and recall doing okay), this course at ISU was overwhelming. Therefore I am proud to say, I sought out help!  I visited student services and was given names of potential tutors to contact.

That is how I found Michael from Malaysia! I hired Michael as my tutor and boy did he make me work and study hard. I remember taking notes upon notes upon notes, and meeting with Michael many times between classes. I received a B+ in the course and am very grateful for his help. Bottom line is I trusted him!

I sought help from Michael from Malaysia!

At some time everybody has difficulty accomplishing a goal that is important in life. Seeking help from others is a sign of self-respect.

Along with seeking help through student services, during difficult times I’ve also used the services of a mental health counselor and found group counseling beneficial to learn about myself and how my relationships impact others. I believe in other helpful therapeutic approaches such as Healing Touch and Meditation to help with my body, mind and soul. And I am very fond of Yoga too!

I had a great mentor in my earlier days as a vocational counselor. And I’ve been blessed to have a mentor in these early days of my work as a Life Care Planner.  I embrace the fact that being trained in one field of expertise does not provide immunity from continuing to seek help from others within my field(s) or from other people in other fields. Continue on….for an example using one of my favorite characters!

I have a fondness for Eeyore…three stuffed ones live in my office!

Although Eeyore can be a pessimistic and gloomy old donkey at times, one of his goals is to become the happiest donkey in the Hundred Acre Wood. He lives in Pooh Corner in his stick house, ya know and it can be overwhelming for him at times when he experiences distress.

Eeyore knows that to solve his problems he needs help. He’s not afraid to ask for help, accept help or offer help to help others. Examples include how Eeyore allows his friends to help him out of the river when he falls in, build his house when it tumbles down, put his tail back on when it falls out, and finding it when it gets lost which is really distressful!  

Just as important, Eeyore livens up his friends when they are feeling low. Eeyore is a thinker, a planner, a consider-er. Nothing flits through his brain. Every thought and fact is held up for careful consideration, it’s value weighed and measured, and then precisely cataloged in his orderly brain for future reference. Eeyore is insightful and capable of great compassion.  (Now you realize why I love him!) 

“Thanks for noticin’ me” & “Ohhh-kayyy”

What can I do to help your client through difficult times, for example, following an accident or injury? I accept referrals from insurance carriers, claimant and plaintiff attorneys, and employers. I also accept assignments from self-paying individuals, and work with a range of community agencies.

If you’ve experienced a work injury, reach out to your workers’ compensation adjuster to ask for assistance with returning to work or seeking new employment. New opportunities may arise in another field of employment. Remember Michael and Eeyore……and their trustworthy personality. I hope I can serve you in that fashion.  Contact me, Amy Botkin, at 515-282-7753 or vocresources@msn.com

I’m happy to help and will carefully consider your situation!

___________________  

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

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