Shane E. Bryan once said, “I don’t have a disability, I have a gift! Others may see it as a disability, but I see it as a challenge. This challenge is a gift because I have to become stronger to get around it, and smarter to figure out how to use it; others should be so lucky.” Wisconsin has 120,000 students utilizing special education services. Many of these students have reading and learning disabilities and ADHD and ADD. Nearly 50% of the population of students in special education in Wisconsin fit into the SLD (Specific Learning Disabilities) and OHI (Other Health Impairment) categories.
It’s hard to swallow knowing that nearly one and every five students in special education either drop out of high school or earn a certificate of completion (something other than a diploma). The statistics tell a story of the struggles students with disabilities have while in and outside of school. Without the most basic education, a high school education, these students are at an increased risk of poverty, homelessness, and financial instability. Beyond primary and secondary school is a road that branches off in so many directions that every student has an opportunity to find their path to success. Yet, in recent years, I’ve witnessed children and adults with disabilities having roadblocks willingly placed on their paths to success as a disguise for the lack of available and affordable services.
The lack of available and affordable services is nothing new in the industry. It wasn’t until the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was passed that discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the workforce, schools, and public life was prohibited. Even with laws protecting individuals with disabilities, discrimination still exists in various industries and lessens individuals with disabilities chances of finding success.
This is where my story begins. But this isn’t just my story anymore. I recently went to Kinnektor Con in Appleton on October 23-25 at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center. Not only did I meet industry professionals and learn about how Cincinnati and Appleton are working together to help start-ups get off the ground, but I networked with other Northeast Wisconsin entrepreneurs.
I wasn’t expecting much, but I left Kinnektor Con with more information and opportunities than I can shake a fist at. My business, FIRE Tutoring Services, finally had the opportunity to share my idea with other entrepreneurs in a professional setting outside of my community college. While there at the convention, I met someone, or two someone’s, who have changed my life.
Marcus and his daughter, owners of Justifeyed, a digital service created to assist individuals with disabilities to have alternative ways to call for help when in emergency situations, found my booth at Kinnektor Con. Within seconds, my mother, who was holding down the fort while I participated in a breakout session, rushed to find me saying, “You have someone who wishes to speak to you at your booth.”
Speed walking towards the convention hall with all the booths, I got my first glimpse of who this “someone” was. With a smile on my face and right hand lifted in preparation for a formal greeting, I silently prayed that this person and his daughter may be the ones I’ve been looking for. Two-in-a-half hours later after our initial greeting, Marcus, his daughter, and I were forming a partnership hoping to merge the idea of serving individuals with disabilities both in safety and academics.
And this is what Marcus and I have worked on today for three hours. With an entire classroom with each wall displaying a whiteboard stretching from one corner to the next, Marcus and I got to brainstorming how we could somehow help each other and possibly make an even greater impact in our community.
FIRE Tutoring Services
FIRE Tutoring Services finally got a logo that displays two ‘T’s” which stand for ‘Tutoring’ and ‘Teaching’. With the power of experience, both nationally and internationally, I’ve created a travel education service (TES) that works to reduce the number of students in special education from dropping out of high school and assisting these students by helping them find which path is the best for their career and future. Studying abroad and experiencing another culture is just a bonus.
How We Intend to Merge
Justifeyed and FIRE Tutoring Services has one obvious similarity: our niche, working with individuals with disabilities. From here, Marcus and I brainstormed to find other similarities. Our businesses are both:
Teaching a New and Inventive Service
For Marcus, he’s teaching dispatchers, police, law firms, and students how to use his service and how to effectively work with individuals with disabilities. He’s rewriting the outdated 911 emergency call service.
I’m specifically working with students in primary, secondary, and post-secondary school who have disabilities that may limit their ability to learn effectively in the current education systems structure (teaching styles/learning styles). I’m trying to implement new teaching styles that may help these students succeed in school.
Using Interactive Technology
Marcus created a service that works with individuals with disabilities without risking their safety in dangerous situations. He invented a service that works with individuals with disabilities rather than against them. Marcus successfully implemented an invisible safety net around people who may not be able to call 911 the traditional way.
I’ve started to create workshops that utilize various teaching and learning styles effective in numerous fields of education like ESL and Early Childhood and from around the world. Every academic tutoring session includes the use of virtual manipulatives (online websites that offer educational activities and games).
Work with College Students
Justifeyed is a service being currently used by individuals between the ages of twenty and forty-years-old. Marcus’s service is keeping these individuals safe.
FIRE Tutoring Services works with a wide range of students from primary to post-secondary school. In the last year, I worked with more college students than any other group of students.
With these similarities, Marcus and I started freely describing our wants, hopes, and needs for the future. And with this, we finally found what we were looking for: how we connect.
Justifeyed and FIRE Tutoring Services will be working together soon as partners and fellow entrepreneurs pushing through every barrier in our path. Our businesses relate to each other in this way:
Marcus will be training and teaching the professionals who will need his service to understand how to assist individuals with disabilities while I will be assisting individuals with disabilities in academics and teaching these individuals how to keep themselves safe in every environment by using Justifeyed, Marcus and his daughter’s service.
I never thought I would meet someone like Marcus and his daughter who would have a service that assists individuals with disabilities. Our future is also the same as we both wish to see if we can somehow break into the Chinese market. Academic tutoring is a huge industry in China and all of Asia as the pressure for near perfect to perfect test scores skyrockets. The need for safety in a technologically advancing and populated world will only increase as security and safety measures start blurring with new inventions.
There is a need for both of our services. 504 students, students who don’t meet the requirements for special education, still need extra support so they can succeed. Some students learn better on a one-on-one basis. Other students need a different learning environment to learn. FIRE Tutoring Services can do that or as an Educational Consultant, I can find a service that can assist every student if my services are not what the student needs.
Justifeyed fills in the gaps the 911 system can’t. The 911 system is aging, but the times are changing. Marcus’s service can be the difference between allowing individuals with disabilities to feel safe where ever they are or risking their lives to do the simplest of tasks.
Give it five years, ten…FIRE Tutoring Services and Justifeyed will be making a difference in the educational system and the safety of students around the world.
If you would like to learn more about FIRE Tutoring Services and Justifeyed, leave a comment below and Marcus and I will reach out to you as soon as possible. What do you think about what Marcus and I are trying to do? Do you have any suggestions?