Are You the Best Version of Yourself?

Have you created the best version of yourself? I recently met an inspiring individual that most certainly has.

You haven’t seen this person on the cover of Forbes.  She doesn’t flaunt expensive clothing and jewelry. And, you haven’t seen her meeting with world leaders. Well, not yet anyway.

But, she did just win a prestigious award.

Katie Albano has fewer resources than most of us, but she is doing everything in her power to be the best version of herself! Katie has a cognitive impairment and is non-verbal. She works at Dutton Farm, a non-profit organization in our region that employs individuals with developmental impairments, while celebrating the worth of every human being.

Katie Albano is an exceptionally talented artist recently recognized with the prestigious “Elite 40 Under 40” award for our region. Katie is non-verbal. But, she speaks volumes through her exquisite art! Katie is pictured here (left) with Dutton Farm founder and long-time friend of SOAR, Jenny Brown.

Katie is an exquisite artist!  Her paintings have sold for thousands of dollars, each. When you see one of her pieces, you know it was created by an individual with an inspired, God-given talent.

Katie’s Mom describes it best, “Her art is like a window into her soul!” I couldn’t agree more.

In the 15 minutes that I spent interviewing Katie, I was overwhelmed by her curiosity, innocence, and ambition. How did I get all that from someone who is non-verbal?

It comes through her art: the depth and beauty of her paintings, her pride as she shared her art with me, the energy of others around her art, and the many, many “high-fives” she gave me! 😊

While I did get to learn about her love of 80’s rock bands (Aerosmith, Journey, and many others), the single greatest thing I learned from Katie was the value of creating The Best Version of Yourself!

I could see the joy and contentment that fills her heart because she loves the work she does. It aligns with her values and beliefs, and she put forth her very best effort to accomplish all of it.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one recognizing Katie’s extraordinary success…

Elite 40 Under 40

Katie was just inducted into the Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 for Oakland County, MI. The OC Elite 40 under 40 is a prestigious award that recognizes and spotlights dynamic individuals under the age of 40 who are making a difference in our region, and beyond.

Katie is being recognized in the same class as leading doctors, CEOs/executives, and civic leaders in the most internationally diverse business county in the USA! Her prestigious recognition led me to think…

What Is Success?

I know my 15 minutes with Katie will forever change my view of success.  It made me think about how much better-off our youth would be if we encouraged our youth to develop the Best Version of Themselves instead of insisting…

“You’re going to college.” (Even when college isn’t the best option for everyone.)

“That career doesn’t pay very much.” (Even if it is the best path for their natural gifts and talents.)

“You should consider a stable field like _____.” (Even if that field isn’t a good fit for the person they were created to be.)

It’s not enough to redefine “success” for the youth in our life; we also must give them the tools and remove the barriers to help them make it happen. This is especially true for students who, like Katie, have had some “limitations.”

In our FREE guide, 4.5 Ways Special Education Will Outperform General Ed, we outline ways… well, as the name suggests… ways traditional “special education” can surpass all expectations to become the Best Versions of Themselves.

Don’t be fooled by the title…

Yes, it does lay out 4.5 ways that special education will outperform general education, but it’s really a blueprint for ALL learners.

Click here to request this FREE guide!


Brian Winter, M.Ed.
President & Director of Fun, SOAR Learning

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