Why Every Child is Special: Author Interview & Book Giveaway

Why Every Child is Special Author Interview and Book GiveawayAbout a month ago, I got an email about this wonderful book and when I read what it was about, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to review the book. This book, about a special education teacher in Philadelphia Public Schools, is such an inspiration. If you are raising a child with a disability or work with children who have disabilities, you will want to read this book. The fight this author went through just to get this book published and out into the forefront of society shows a great deal of tenacity, and I certainly admire her for it. Dr. Jo Anne White is a real class act, too. I was surprised to open my copy of the book and see her personalized message to me inside.

Reading this book, I am reminded of my own stories of working in special education. These stories are real and come from the heart. You read about how these special children tug at your heart strings and make you want to come to work. It’s a story of discovery about how children who need more than you ever know going into the job are such a joy to teach because you get to watch them experience so much growth and you receive so much love in return for it.  I am so convinced that you will want to read this book once you learn more about it that I am giving away an unsigned copy for free. Keep reading and then enter to win a free copy of More Heaven: Because Every Child is Special. Whether you’re a special education teacher or a parent of a child with special needs or just someone who wants to know more about our world,you will be inspired by these stories.

Enter to Win Your Own Copy of the Book, and Keep Reading to Learn More About the Author!

More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special

By Dr. Jo Anne White           

Why Do You Write? What are your ambitions for your writing career?               

I was born in Brooklyn, New York and have been writing as long as I was able to hold a pen/pencil. Writing is a love and comes naturally and is also much guided from source.

When I was young, I was very shy; people who know me today find that hard to believe because I have a Power Your Life TV Show and Radio Show, Power Your Life Network, and I also love to give classes, presentations and training. I believe pushing beyond our own fears and self-imposed limitations grows us and so I often face that which seems impossible head-on.

I believe I’ve been very fortunate because of the values of equality and value of all life that my parents instilled in me. Those values have guided my life choices and life of service and I believe have made me a better, more open and loving person.

 I’ve always dreamed of dedicating my life to service. I thought that I would major in Writing and Literature in college. However when I was 17 years old, I was inspired to pursue a career in education/special education when I met a young girl with special needs while working at a camp program. I went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Special Education from Buffalo State University in New York and continued my education, earning a Masters and Doctorate from Temple University in Pennsylvania, where I later taught as an adjunct instructor for over 10 years.

I also became the Executive Director of Children and Youth Services for a comprehensive educational, vocational, residential, autism, and community program for Bancroft, Inc. in  New Jersey, and later became the Director of Research, Evaluation and Training for the entire Bancroft facility. Eventually, my career shifted and I was certified as a professional coach, trainer, and image and branding specialist.

A dancing injury promoted me to seek out alternative modalities for my personal healing and led me on a path of exploration to find answers to help me heal. I then trained in several alternative eastern and western medicine techniques and incorporated them into my spiritual and life coaching practice to effectively help others. My coaching expanded into business coaching as well to work with business owners and entrepreneurs.

I’ve authored and co-authored many books for women, men and businesses as resources for personal, professional and spiritual growth, leadership, success and empowerment. They include Amazon International Bestseller Bully Free, Mastering the Art of Success, JOY, The Self Architect, Amazon International Bestseller Keys to Conscious Business Growth, Amazon International Bestseller More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special and more.

What made you decide to sit down and start More Heaven?

More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special is based on a true story set in the Philadelphia public schools in response to the 1975 Education for the Handicapped Act.  I was hired by the Philadelphia Public schools as the first teacher to pioneer a program for children with autism and special needs. Previously, many of these children were denied access to public education. Unfortunately, isolation was often their fate. Now US public schools were required to educate all children with disabilities.

There were special education classes before, however now the schools had to create programs for children that were kicked out or weren’t allowed in public schools due to the so-called severity of their disability. It was a very different time educationally, socially and culturally than today, and many of these children were not welcomed and kept hidden from the mainstream of society and education. Parents fought hard to get educational, social and community access for their children and I fought with them to change laws and to create an environment of more equality and accessibility.

Something wonderful, something unprecedented and historical was happening inside the classroom and inside the children I taught and in me and it was important to take notice. MORE HEAVEN celebrates these children’s unique abilities and their ability to grow, learn, and thrive. I hope that More Heaven opens your eyes, not just to the challenges and ostracism these children and their families endured, but to their special gifts and victories, and to the continuing struggle still faced by many families today.

I admire the parents of these children. Many of the parents changed careers, or built their careers around their child’s learning differences in education, advocacy, writing, and much more to better understand, support and advocate for their children, and also to promote the necessary changes for awareness, education, acceptance, support and visibility. These parents battled tirelessly with hope and endurance: two traits I practice frequently. They formed strong alliances with each other and were instrumental in turning the tide, getting laws created and overturned and changing lives for the better. We can all learn a great deal from the parents of these children who exerted the courage, strength, resilience, and above all love. You are my heroes!

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

My goal at the time of the initial writing of More Heaven was to demonstrate to everyone just how wonderful and special these children were and to highlight their gifts as well as to create acceptance and hope for the children and their families. I believe the book was visionary and written ahead of its time. Even some of the practices that I used to help these children, like movement and play and entering into their worlds weren’t techniques that I learned in my special education training many moons ago.

Upon completing the first draft of More Heaven, I learned patience because at the time, mainstream publishers weren’t interested in publishing a book whose main characters were children with special needs. I put the book away while I pursued other avenues of writing and service. I think that’s something important for me and all of us to learn and embrace. Rather than giving up on my dream, I waited over 30 years for it to become a reality! Of course in the process I grew up and More Heaven went through its own transformations to be what it is today.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

I think waiting was the hardest part. The ideas and story flowed onto the paper. I kept copious notes on the children and that became the source for the story.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

This book is very close to my heart as were the children I worked with. They taught me and can teach all of us so much. I learned about their different worlds, emotions, their learning, vulnerabilities and fears and of my own entry into their worlds and experiences inside and outside. I also learned about myself through the experience of teaching these children. I had to stretch myself, ignore many beliefs and sentiment that surfaced about these children at the time such as they were uneducable and were best served in institutional settings. I was determined to reach them and felt that I had to figure out how and not the other way around. The onus for their learning was on me so I tried many techniques, even unconventional ones to break down the walls so we could truly connect, build trust and learn. When I did, the rate of learning for the children sped up and real connections were made.

In what formats is your book available?

Paperback, Hardcover and Kindle

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I teach motivation and there are so many wonderful sayings and books. I think we need to recognize that the best form of motivation is your own. Invent your own phrase; I don’t have just one positive saying. I believe it’s important to practice hope, positivism, gratitude, love and forgiveness even when it’s difficult to do so and some days it takes a lot of reminding and cheerleading to get by.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Keep your mind and heart on your dream; never give up and yet be open to make necessary changes to move forward in your life.

What advice would you give to parents who feel discouraged?

Remember that More Heaven and I waited 35+ years to surface. Sometimes when we feel most at the bottom, raw and vulnerable, we can be very close to a breakthrough, a goal, and an epiphany. It’s worth reminding yourself of your own strength and determination and why you’re doing what you’re doing. I think in its purest sense it’s a selfless act of love. Remind yourself of your victories, large and small and celebrate them.

What projects are you working on at the present?

Spreading the word about More Heaven through shows and interviews and building my Power Your Life Network, working on my Power Your Life Radio Show.

What do your plans for future projects include?

More writing, seminars, speaking and book signings. I love to help people individually and collectively learn, grow and succeed- it’s where my passion lies

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How can readers discover more about you and you work?

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