MPVI Secretary - Karen Hoogland
My name is Karen Hoogland and this is our family's 9th year of being members of MPVI.  This is my first year serving on the Executive Board as Secretary and Finance Committee. I helped plan the 2010 MPVI Retreat at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids. My husband, Todd, is from Jenison and I am from Hudsonville.  When we got married 19 years ago, we decided to start our life together in a new city to both of us, Zeeland.  We love it here! I have 4 children.  My oldest is 14.  Jayden is an 8th grader at Creekside Middle School.  My 11-year-olds, Juliana and Larissa, triplet survivors, are in 5th grade at Lincoln Elementary.  My son, Landen (one of the triplets) resides in heaven.  He went home to be with his maker at a month old due to complications of prematurity.  I received my Associates Degree as a Legal Administrative Assistant at Davenport College (yes, this ages me.  Davenport wasn't yet a University when I attended). I have worked at two different law firms and a Commercial Collection Agency working with legal claims and repossessions.  I am currently a Health Aide at my girls' school assisting the Type 1 Diabetic students, administering daily meds to students with attention issues, working with kids at lunchtime who have attended the Intensive Feeding Therapy program, and assisting in the Resource Room as a Special Ed. Aide.  This job is a blessing and has worked out so well with my kids ages.  I am so lucky to have a job that allows me to be home on snow days, Christmas breaks, spring breaks, and summers with my kids.  I am a very strong advocate for my daughter, Jules. Advocating for her in school has not been easy.  I have had to educate educators on her disability and her capabilities.  I am a firm believer of pushing independence in our vi/blind kids and learning everything you can as a parent to help your child succeed!  I have utilized many of MDE-LIO's (Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach) amenities.  I have taken a JAWS class, a 16 week Braille class, and a Braillenote class.  I have also utilized their Assistive Technology Assessment and Orientation and Mobility Assessment for Jules.  I have also taken an Abacus online course through Hadley School for the Blind. The past year, I have really educated myself with a lot of help from my MPVI friends on what my child is entitled to in school.  I have learned to speak up for Jules on her behalf at her IEP's rather than sitting back and nodding my head agreeing with everything the team is suggesting. I have really studied those confusing looking IEP forms and have learned to challenge and question every one of her goals. Our kids only have one shot at this "school thing" while they have an Aide, TC, and O&M before they go out into this "sighted" world independently!  I would not be the strong advocate and parent I am today without MPVI.  I look forward to every retreat not only for our kids to interact with one another, but for me to parent network with my MPVI parent friends.  I love my MPVI family.  I will continue to serve MPVI and help educate other parents on how to advocate for their child and inform them on what the world of special education, sadly, doesn't want parents to know!