It’s been warm and sunny here in Orlando. I arrived Wednesday evening and went right to the Community of Practice and Special Interest Section Reception. It was a huge networking event where all the different COPS and SIS groups met up with each other in real life (as opposed to Zoom).

It was so great to see some of the other State School Leader COP members I meet with monthly, including Jan Hollenbeck, Joyce Rioux, Moira Bushnell, Michelle Grahamm, and Vaishnavi Tallury. These women are all so inspiring and it was my honor to network with them.

Although I’m not a member of the school mental health COP, I also was able to meet and chat with that group, who MAY have convinced me to join!

On Thursday, the Keynote speech was by Simon T. Bailey. He spoke about Resilience, and featured a few OTPs who have really demonstrated these qualities by enduring and overcoming enormous barriers and rising to embody their strength and the benefits of their profession. He highlighted the accomplishments of my colleague, Amy Coopersmith, who is one of the founders of the ESSA Advocacy group that I featured in my recent Everyday Advocacy Course.

Robyn Laub and I hosted a Conversations that Matter on Thursday all about Mentorship. (I’ll share more about that soon). We had the opportunity to meet both new and experienced OTPs to talk about the trials and benefits of mentorship. Robyn’s mentorship cohort is opening April 1st. If you are interested, learn more here.

Friday came so fast, and I was able to present my research poster with Kim Wiggins all about the perceptions of school OTPs and PTs as leaders in the New York State DOE. The research was recently published in JOTSEI, if you’d like to read it. It was so cool to see this research quoted and referenced in other people’s courses and posters. It felt like such an accomplishment!

Jayson Davies (from OT Schoolhouse Podcast) and I hosted a school-based OTP happy hour on Friday—which was SO fun! My favorite part of AOTA is meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Francine Seruya and Mindy Garfinkle (caseload/workload royalty) even came by for a drink! I was able to invite people who were discussing advocacy to the USA School-Based OTPs Looking For Change Advocacy Coalition.

I also attended the Utica University gathering to connect with former professors and new grads entering the field. Last night my college roommate and I had dinner with Robyn Laub in Disney Springs—it was a beautiful night with great conversation and friendship.

As I write, I’m sitting in the airport reflecting with gratitude on this wonderful experience. I am truly blessed for the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful people, learn new skills, and share them with you!

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