AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

Who Are You?

By Samuel Sennott

There are now five thousand visitors a month connecting to this blog.  Who are you?  What do you care about?

It would be terrific to hear from you.  Also, feel free to message outside of the comments, by emailing at

Who am I?

Picture of me with long hair

Picture of me with long hair

My name is Samuel Sennott and I am a teacher and more specifically a special educator who is a technology specialist focused on learners with augmentative and alternative communication needs.  When I was nineteen years old, I happened to volunteer at a center in my hometown of Hopkinton Massachusetts.  That newly formed center forever changed my life.  My beginning days of volunteering at a crafts table with a few adults who came to the center led to a full time job where I was a lead staff member doing everything from circle times with babies and preschoolers to job coaching and recreation outings with adults.  This formative time taught me the heart of the work.  It taught me much about the people for whom I care so much.  From being a staff person at this Respite Center, I moved on to a dual certification degree in elementary education and special education.  This powerful experience of student teaching and intense study led me to my first teaching job leading a public school inclusion program for children with significant special needs.  This super in over my head on day one experience was a powerful experience for me.  My knowledge of the children and my care for them ran straight into the defining problem of “the school programs and systems mostly suck.”  Night after night and day after day of working it to the bone in the classroom, as well as going to every AT, AAC, and Literacy workshop, class, and conference I could get to was paying off.  The students were growing and succeding. Getting my graduate degree at Simmons College in assistive technology was a key time where I grew very rapidly as a teacher and technology specialist.  In the classroom, we had in many ways the best of both worlds, the inclusion and the specialized community.  The kids were rock stars in their general education classes and we would come to our “Discovery Center” as we called the program and we would focus on all the intangibles that could not be done in the solemn and quiet “regular classrooms”.  We did not only focused on building communication systems, but also did things like having a rock band with the Switch Jam software.  We played wiffle ball, football, dolls, and played games like Switch Wars.  It was far from perfect, but I very much believe in the concepts behind that program I had designed.   To this day my favorite teaching moment is playing football with two of my students when they broke through into being able to communicate.

I have had the great fortune to live in Fort Lauderdale for a time, working on an early childhood program for AAC users who are getting ready for Kindergarten.  Also, the AAC writers camp we just had for elementary school students was truly amazing.  Our premise of A Writer, a Pencil, a Reason, and a Teacher has forever showed me the power of these kids!  Truly we can create unfathomable tipping points if we only set our sights right.  This being said, I am more than pleased to be accepted and heading into a Ph.D. program at The Pennsylvania State University.  It is a dream come true and a chance to leverage all that I have learned, am learning, and will learn into making a difference.  My proposed study in AAC, special education, and technology is an opportunity that I will put my whole heart and mind into.

For the next few months, I will be focusing on a number of projects, but I also will be doing consultation work.  I have been asked by a number of individuals and entities to consult to them for their children with complex communication needs.  I am both excited to be continuing to help individuals and their families, as well as do larger scale consulting work with schools where you can take that principal of one and apply it to a larger group.

What do I care about?

Picture of me with short hair

Picture of me with short hair

I care about a great deal of things including the ocean, music, walking, photography, The Red Sox, The Celtics, The Patriots, turntables, my Mac, love, God, technology, teaching,  the flat world, tipping points, one to one thousand, and dogs.  Yet, out of everything in the world, I care about people the most.  I root for them, especially the people with special needs that I am lucky to serve.  Over the past few months, with getting accepted to the Ph.D. program, seeing the AAC writers camp be such a success, and learning some new things I have shifted my thinking considerably.  For many years now I have been working on and believing in my dreams of helping people in schools, particularly people with significant special needs be much more successful.  Yet, now I absolutely know that they will come true.  This may sound funny, like I am calling a shot or something.  It is not like that.  It is just that I see it.  I believe it.  So in short, I care about people and know that good things are going to happen for the people I am trying to help.

I have been working on a theory that I believe will create change.  It is called One to One Thousand and it goes that if a thousand people each take an hour and work on a project with agreed upon standards, you can create something with exponential power.  Anyway, it will be exciting to share in the coming months the launch of the website and the blog connected to it.  Well, thats a lengthy bit about me, but it is good to share.  I had realized that I was getting so focused on sharing resources and this post represents a shift and reversion back to the mean.

Also, as I am sharing so much, I have to say thank you for the people who have been mentoring me and helping me become a better teacher one step at a time.  You know who you are.

July 26, 2008 - Posted by | Special Education | , ,


  1. Love your blog!!!

    Comment by mncul | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks!

    Comment by alltogether | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  3. Great blog! Thanks for telling your story. 🙂

    Comment by Paul J Natsch | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thanks Paul. We are very pleased to be featuring you in SpeakUP. Your site is really important. I always come back to how your concept is such an inspiration for that age group. Beyond as well, but special for them in particular.


    Comment by alltogether | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  5. It’s nice to get to know more about you! I always get something out of reading your blog – it’s great.

    – Ricky Buchanan, ATMac

    Comment by ATMac | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’m a mom. I appreciate your passion and your work. I met you last year at CTG. And still use many of your ideas. You (and Pam & Josh) inspired my son’s photoblog. It has been a very positive thing in his life on many, many levels. One of the unexpected things…….. his “blog readers” now know “his stories” and can talk to him about them when they see him…… and……. since they know the context/story they can understand him better while they “chat” about it.

    Nevin’s blog:

    Again, thanks for all you do! Love your blog…….. continue to get ideas that we apply here at “our house” all the time.

    Comment by Laurie | August 1, 2008 | Reply

  7. Sam, I am so proud of you…you are destined to make a difference for so many children and adults…keep up the great work…love your blog and am so excited about Keep me in the loop…your “legendary” Aunt Gayle

    Comment by Gayle Kendall | August 15, 2008 | Reply

  8. Nevin’s blog is awesome!

    Comment by alltogether | August 19, 2008 | Reply

  9. Thanks for the encouragement everyone!

    Comment by alltogether | August 19, 2008 | Reply

  10. Hey Sam. Awesome blog! I appologize for not getting around to reading it sooner. Its great to get a little more insight into the mind of the Special Ed/ Assistive Tech Guru. 🙂 Your story is inspirational, too great not to be shared, this is wonderful! And while I’m sad to see you go, I wish you all the best at Penn State. You have so much to contribute to this field. So you must succeed! The future of special needs populations depend on it !

    Comment by Shelly | August 21, 2008 | Reply

  11. Shelly, Thanks! Your sentiments mean a lot. The shift is bittersweet for sure. 😦 🙂 Yet, with all the PODD stuff and the writing stuff we have been working hard at, it is clear that it is important to research it and work on the sharing/ dissemination components we have been talking about.

    Comment by alltogether | August 21, 2008 | Reply

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