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Special Education Academy™ (SEA)

Advocate Partners

We’re excited to announce that Karen Mayer Cunningham, the Special Education Boss™, and the Special Education Academy™ are collaborating with dedicated advocates personally trained by Karen. Together, we’re committed to delivering the best advocacy services to families in need.

Our Special Education Academy Advocate Partners have joined the team to enhance our mission, paving the way for successful student outcomes. We’re united in our dedication to empowering every student to thrive. 

“Remember, when we get it right for the child, we get it right for everyone.”

~ Karen Mayer Cunningham 

Quinn Perkins
Shannon Mares, Special Education Academy Advocate Partner
Special Education Academy Advocate Partner Logo
Christina Cabral, Special Education Academy Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy
Special Education Academy Advocate Partner Logo
Gina Whitsitt, Special Education Advocate

Having a daughter with a genetic condition, 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, led to her passion for helping families by advocating for students. Shannon has the compassion, communication skills, and knowledge to work with families and school districts, bringing them all together to create successful IEPs for students.

Shannon Mares

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

After witnessing the inequities in the education system through professional and personal experiences, she dedicated her life to addressing these issues.

Charlene ensures each child gets a tailored Individualized Education Plan (IEP), advocates for inclusive classrooms, and offers vital support services. Additionally, she guides families to navigate the complex special education system, empowering them to advocate for their children.

Driven by the firm belief that education is a fundamental right, regardless of disabilities, Charlene’s mission is to help families find meaning and equality in special education.

Charlene Clifton

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

Dr. Perkins, an educator with over 22 years of experience and a special education advocate, is intimately familiar with the complexities of the special education process.

Her advocacy journey began in the classroom, battling the challenges of creating legally compliant IEPs that genuinely meet students’ needs. Having taught children with disabilities at all educational stages, she understands the labyrinthine policies, intricate language, and perplexing documents that often daunt parents during the IEP process.

Dr. Perkins’ special focus lies in transition coordination, ensuring a smooth passage for students from public school to successful post-graduation life. She believes that the support of a special education advocate can make a significant difference for families navigating this challenging journey.

Quinn Perking Ed.D

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

My passion is to serve and celebrate children and families. My focus is to ensure your child has what they need, not just for today, but for their future. I will work tirelessly to have your child supported for who they are and given what they need to succeed while I assist you to understand the 504/IEP process.

My introduction to Special Education started over 10 years ago navigating the needs of both my children with disabilities ranging from learning disabilities to rare medical needs, limb differences, and AAC devices. As a part of my commitment to serve the community, our family founded a nonprofit with the mission to support awareness through education for children and families with limb differences and rare disorders.

The best outcomes for students come from a comprehensive plan and celebrating our children for who they are while supporting their unique individual needs. Let me help your family navigate Special Education so we can create a successful plan and protect your rights under IDEA.

Christina Cabral

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

My desire to make a lasting impact on children’s lives began over 30 years ago. Throughout my career in education, I have served as a general education teacher at both elementary and secondary levels while holding roles in reading intervention and English as a Second Language. In special education, I have served as a resource and inclusion teacher and case manager. I have attended countless 504/IEP meetings in each of these roles including that as a parent for my own child. I understand how intimidating it can be to navigate the special education process for those we love.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and hold teacher certifications in general education, special education, and English as a Second Language. In addition, I have my certificate in the Science of Reading. Although based in Texas, I advocate for students across the United States.

Walking away from teaching students was a difficult decision, but I truly feel called to advocate for our most vulnerable students. My goal is to work with families and school-based members to create an IEP that follows IDEA law and allows the student to reach their full potential based on their unique circumstances. Together, we can truly make a difference!

Gina Whitsitt

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

Bonnie brings to the team her special education experience as a classroom teacher at the secondary level in public schools in Texas. She served students in special education as a general education teacher, special education co-teacher, inclusion teacher, adaptive education teacher, and special education department chair, overseeing and implementing campus programs and services, attending hundreds of IEP meetings annually, and training faculty and staff on best practices. Bonnie holds a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences, an M.A. in Science Education, and is a certified special education teacher in Texas, early childhood through grade 12.

Bonnie’s journey into advocacy started 2 years ago with the deep-seated belief that children of all learning abilities can succeed when given the right tools and services. She realized that she could make a far greater impact on students nationwide than just in her small-town school district. She now serves clients from coast to coast, helping families through the IEP process from evaluation to graduation.

Bonnie Hybner, M.A.

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

All Advocate Partners associated with Special Education Academy are independent consultants and not employees of Special Education Academy™, Special Education Boss™, or Karen Mayer Cunningham. Each ‘Partner’ has been trained by ‘the Boss’, has advocacy experience, and comes highly recommended by Karen Mayer Cunningham, the Special Education Boss™. However, it’s essential to note that they operate independently and bear individual responsibility for their actions, advice, and services.

While we consistently aim to collaborate with professionals and have confidence in those we’ve trained, any arising issues, disputes, or disagreements should be addressed directly with the Partner involved. Neither Special Education Academy™, Special Education Boss™, nor Karen Mayer Cunningham holds liability for any Partner actions and is to be held harmless for any advice, activities, or actions undertaken by them.

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