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Learning Center Experience
Aucoin M.Ed., is the Assistant Academic
Chair in the Educational Studies program at Kaplan University. She has also
taught numerous classes including Observation and Assessment in Early Childhood, Creativity in Early
Childhood, and Children's Literacy.
Dena has been in education for over 17 years and has
worked in many facets: with teen parents in Early Head Start as well as a pilot
program with a boys’ prison, as a high school child development teacher, a kindergarten
teacher, a school department lead, a consultant for an online high school
special education program, an international teacher, and a community college professor.
devoted to her work and her students, and also is passionate about her volunteer
Most recently, Dena has been volunteering for the Down Syndrome Network of Northern
Michigan. She offers her expertise at a quarterly forum where she answers
questions on Individualized Education Programs, legal issues, and parent rights.
Dena started working with the Down Syndrome Network after she was
inspired by a parent of a former student who has Down Syndrome. “This mother is
a new advocate for her child and I was really moved by her passion
and motivation to overcome her intense shyness to be a voice for her young daughter,”
Dena said. “My partner Brian and I visited the organization and had the
pleasure of seeing a screening of the documentary Monica and David. The
documentary focuses on
the daily lives of Monica and David, a young married couple with Down
Syndrome. We heard them both speak and then met members of the network. I felt
compelled to volunteer and share my knowledge so I could help, and now Brian is
very involved as well.”
continued, “Right now, my work is just
beginning. We are still developing what my role will look like. I have attended
a board meeting and I am developing a survey for members to get a feel for
their interest and needs. I will visit the March meeting to discuss the outcome
and make a plan for the remainder of 2015. I am really excited about it!”
In addition to her work with the Down Syndrome Network, Dena has
volunteered as a triathlon coach for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,
and has helped at various animal shelters. She volunteers because she feels
that being a model in the community and sharing the knowledge is important for
professors in leadership roles, such as her position at Kaplan University. “But
mostly, I just find it so personally rewarding,” she said.
While Dena is in the community she also shares what she does at Kaplan
University. “I find that it often can lead to interest in our college for
parents with children who can consume a great deal of their time—online learning
can fit in their lifestyle.”
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