Meet real-life authors Jo Meserve Mach and Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier, photographer Mary Birdsell, and the star of one of their books, MyaGrace Rentier, at Musical Storytime with Kyler on Saturday, December 12, 10 am. Come sing, dance, and read MyaGrace Wants to Make Music, try out a new musical instrument, and purchase a signed copy of a great book to take home!
Read on to learn more about Jo, Vera, Mary, MyaGrace and their books!
Finding My Way Books embrace the joy that comes with the development of skills all children need for their self- determination. Each book shares a delightful, true and inclusive story of a child living with a disability or developmental delay.
Through fun and bright illuminating photographs, ‘Finding My Way Books’ show how all children can learn, throughout their daily activities, skills that will promote their self-determination. These opportunities teach them the life skills they need for building a successful, rich, and fulfilling future of their own choosing.
Meet the Team behind Finding My Way Books
Jo Meserve Mach spent 36 years as an Occupational Therapist. She is very passionate about inclusion and the development of skills needed for self-determination and independence. Jo views inclusion from a functional perspective. She hopes our books share how children with special needs can be actively involved in their daily lives. Increasing the participation and engagement of children and young adults with disabilities into family and community activities enriches the lives of everyone. She believes all children have incredible strengths that sometimes just need some environmental adaptations to help them be realized.
Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier has 25 years of experience teaching within the fields of Early Childhood and Special Education. She has a PhD in Special Education from the University of Kansas. Her current work as the Assistant Director on the state Early Childhood, Special Education, and Title Services team at the Kansas State Department of Education gives her the opportunity to shape policy decisions impacting the lives of students with special educational needs. Vera is passionate about the inclusion of each and every child in settings where they would be if they did not have a disability. She brings the perspective of inclusion and the promotion of self-determination from her work with families, teachers and therapists over 25 year career. Parenting a teen and tween with special needs enriches her life.
Mary Birdsell is a freelance photographer and a former middle school speech and theatre teacher. She brings her talents in art and design to our books. Mary strives to create images that reflect the strengths of each child. She feels that an image can project a child’s voice and abilities within their environment. Mary’s background in education, theatre and photography intersect as she visually creates our books. Within each story, she uses colors and shapes to promote the child’s growth and development of skills needed for self-determination as demonstrated through their story.
MyaGrace Rentier is a middle school student. She loves music and has a gift for enthusiasm. MyaGrace demonstrated her self-advocacy skills by telling her mother that she would like to talk about books to help our team. Today she shares her gift of enthusiasm by helping promote all our ‘Finding My Way’ books.
Jo, Vera and Mary believe that children can learn actively within everyday life experiences. They have combined their work experiences and backgrounds to create books that show how children learn and gain skills needed for self-determination. These skills include engagement, self-awareness, making choices, problem solving, self-regulation and self-advocacy. Finding My Way Books share true stories of children gaining these skills that they need to become adults who live self-determined lives.
Author biographies and photographs courtesy of Finding My Way Books.