Cape Cod Advocate is pleased to announce Michel Gilmore has joined our team of experienced special education advocates serving families in the Cape Cod area for 12 years.
Michel, a Sandwich native, brings 14 years of experience as a classroom teacher to her work as an advocate.
She holds a Master of Education degree and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, both from Simmons College. She is professionally trained as an advocate through the Federation for Children with Special Needs and Wrightslaw.
"We're excited to offer families the benefit of Michel's experience as a teacher. She's been on the other side of the table and understands that point of view. Michel adds a new dimension to our team," said Christine Riley, founder of Cape Cod Advocate and recognized throughout the state as an authority in the field.
Michel joins Christine, a 12-year advocate with a strong legal background, and Tina Qvarnstrom, an experienced advocate who is raising a child with autism.
Michel was raised in Sandwich and attended public schools there. After starting her career on Boston's South Shore, she and her husband returned to Sandwich to raise their three daughters, ages 7, 5 and 1. Learn more about Michel in the Q&A below:
Why did you enter the field of education?
I have always loved kids and wanted to work with and help them. In college, I initially focused on being a school psychologist. But, at the last minute, it became clear that being the first person kids look for as soon as they walk in the classroom was the place I wanted to be.
Why did you enter the advocacy field?
As much as I loved being a classroom teacher, after 14 years I was ready to learn new things and see fresh perspectives. What I’m doing now gives me the chance to work closely with parents and guide them toward what’s in the best interest of their child.
What special aspects do you bring to advocacy?
I bring an understanding of how school systems work from the inside out. I also appreciate the teacher’s situation. In a meeting, it is helpful to be able to understand and anticipate the teacher’s perspective. Parents are also comforted to know I’m a Mom too, working hard and raising a family like them. Understanding both sides helps create a collaborative relationship for the benefit of the child.
What is the most gratifying aspect of being an advocate?
It’s gratifying to affirm to parents that they are doing absolutely everything they can to help their child. A lot of parents are overwhelmed and need to hear they are doing a great job!
What are your favorite memories growing up on Cape Cod?
I have absolutely always loved the beach. And now, so do my kids. I can’t imagine living in a place where we can’t be at the beach all four seasons.
You moved to Sandwich after attending college and graduate school and teaching outside Boston. Why did you move back?
I always loved Sandwich and felt at home here. Luckily, my husband started to appreciate the town over the years too. We had our first home and children in Plymouth. When it was time to relocate, my husband was the one who suggested Sandwich. That was just fine by me!
When you grow up on Cape Cod, all you want to do is leave Cape Cod, until you reach a point in life when you can’t wait to get back. Sandwich has a great sense of community—you always meet new people, but everywhere you go, you see someone you know. It’s an ideal size for raising a family in that sense.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to exercise and to cook. My motto in the kitchen is to create really healthy vegetarian recipes that we still love to eat. It doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes I have to say, “Sorry girls, this doesn’t taste very good!” But that’s part of the challenge!
Cape Cod Advocate has guided hundreds of families through the education process for students of all ages with learning challenges and disabilities. Our expertise with IEPs, 504s and education law means we can take the time to truly focus on each child's unique needs. This expert, personal service has been the hallmark of Cape Cod Advocate since Christine Riley established the practice in 2005. Our clients have come to us primarily from referrals by other parents, school staff and professionals in related fields. We focus on Cape Cod, the Islands and surrounding communities.