Friday, March 20, 2015

Thank You Mrs. B

My first "real job" after college was at the Judevine Center for Autism in St. Louis.  The training and experience I received in the five years I worked for Judevine Center changed my life in many ways. It also prepared me for a future in a way I could never imagine at the time.  The Judevine Center was founded in 1970 by Lois J. Blackwell, better known by all who admired her as Mrs. B.

It didn't take long to learn that Mrs. B, at the time in the mid 90's, was already a living legend.  A pioneer.  The work she had already been doing for 20+ years spoke for itself.

I could not even begin to count or list the number of guiding principles that have stayed with me my entire professional career.  There are three things that stand out to me, have stayed with me, and that I learned in the first week of professional training at Judevine Center.

  1. Respect.  Respect for the individual and respect for all parents.  Individual and parent opinions, thoughts, and most importantly a parent's role in their child's life come first.  
  2. Always a person first!  Mrs. B understood the importance of person first language long before it was a thing.  
  3. Every child can learn and is capable of learning.  Period. 

I was so sad to hear of Mrs. B's passing earlier this week.  I frequently think about how lucky I am to have worked for her years ago.  The Judevine Center has gone through a lot changes over the years with new agencies becoming their own separate entities.  Judevine Center remains today with Mrs. B's daughter Becky carrying on her legacy.  

When I'm asked about my work experience and I mention my time spent at Judevine Center I frequently say that I worked there in the mid to late 1990's before the merging of companies, etc.  I always proudly follow that up with "I'm a Blackwell baby, they raised me!"   

RIP Mrs. Blackwell.  I have offered assistance to many based on your knowledge and I am raising one little boy who has certainly benefited from all that your philosophies taught me.  

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.


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