Committed to Inclusive Postsecondary Education—Carol Henderson

<p>Read how Carol Henderson supported inclusive education for students with disabilities</p>

How Carol Henderson supported inclusive education for students with disabilities.

VKC Leadership Council member Carol Henderson has been a long-term supporter of inclusive education for students with disabilities. In 1996, she and her husband endowed the Britt Henderson Training Series for Educators in memory of their son Britt. The series provides training for school teams that focuses on innovative, evidence-based practices to improve the quality of education for students with disabilities.

This year, Henderson has given a significant 4-year financial gift to the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program, a 2-year certificate program for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. The program aims to provide students with a traditional college experience and to improve their employment options. Henderson was drawn to the program because she believes it would have been a great fit for her son.

"I first heard about Next Steps at a Leadership Council meeting," Henderson said. "I can remember thinking 'Oh, I wish this had been around when Britt was alive.' Much of my interest in the area of education, and much of my motivation for giving in this regard, is grounded in what I think would have worked for Britt. Of course, I also love Vanderbilt. I am a very proud graduate and the very thought of Britt going to Vanderbilt and taking classes and being in college--I think it’s wonderful. I get chills just thinking about it."

Henderson was eager to meet with Next Steps students and to get a glimpse of the program. Her visit increased her enthusiasm and affirmed her belief that students with disabilities need more options as they transition from secondary education.

"Britt was such a social and curious young man," said Henderson. "I can’t imagine a life for him with no options. You know, a lot has changed since he was alive and yet a lot remains the same. What are our children going to do and what are we going to do to support them in their endeavors? These are the questions that we, as parents and as a community, need to be asking ourselves. What are we doing to ensure that our children have meaning in their day to day living? What are we doing to help them find out who they are and what they want for themselves in order to lead a good life? The Next Steps program, to me, seems to be one more step in this puzzle."

"We’re enormously grateful to Carol and her family for this marvelous gift,” said Elise McMillan, JD, VKC UCEDD co-director. "Their deep commitment to inclusive education has reached hundreds of students, teachers, and families through the Britt Henderson Series for Educators. Now this new gift is a cornerstone in continuing Next Steps past its initial funding through a grant from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and the continuing philanthropy of Leadership Council member Linda Brooks. This gift is an instance of how family members who share our vision for a fulfilling future for individuals with disabilities make a critical difference in what is possible."

Last Updated: 11/1/2012 3:38:58 PM

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