We had the good fortune of connecting with Meg Flanagan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Meg, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I first launched MilKids Ed, now Meg Flanagan Education Solutions, I was motivated to serve a deep need I saw in my community: the lack of parental support during the IEP process. Too many parents weren’t aware of their legal rights or how to negotiate with the school district for the supports and services their child needed. As a special education teacher, I understand educational data and how the “system” works from the school point of view. As an advocate, I’m able to take that insider knowledge and use it to help families and children get everything they deserve for an equitable education! I chose to build my advocacy business as an entirely remote operation in order to serve clients around the world. So far I have been able to help families in Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, Maine and Japan. Having everything online also has proved to be useful in our current pandemic. With options for online meetings and document sharing built-in to my operational structure, clients can feel secure knowing that I’m able to help them effectively while also staying physically distant. I’m so honored to be able to serve families in need of special education support in San Diego and around the world as your advocate!
What should our readers know about your business?
I am an educational advocate, which is not a career that is often talked about. Advocates support families and students during the IEP process, from referral to creating a plan and beyond. I help families push for the supports their child needs to succeed in school on their terms. Often, I will also review current education plans and assessments, interpreting the data and making recommendations to the IEP team. One of the biggest ways I support parents is through prepping for and attending IEP meetings with the school. Being prepared and feeling supported is often 90% of the battle! Right now, I am offering distance learning support in response to COVID19. Parents and teachers are all figuring out virtual learning together, in real time. Having someone with an outside perspective can help everyone see flexible solutions to the hurdles of learning from home or on a hybrid schedule. Building a business while also following my husband’s military career has definitely been challenging. But being a military spouse also 100% inspired my business! I was able to see the challenges faced by military families, especially families with children who have disabilities and learning differences. Moving around frequently means families need to understand federal education laws plus the local or state education laws. That’s a lot to understand and keep fresh, especially if education law and policy isn’t your background. I saw that families really needed someone in their corner who could combine the experience of military life with a deep knowledge of how special education should work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would make sure to go to the Zoo! It’s my very favorite place in San Diego for kids and adults. My daughter and I love spending hours with the elephants and tortoises. I’d also make sure the we explore Hillcrest and Mission Hills. I love wandering down Washington St. and seeing all the different shops and restaurants. Finally, I’d probably also take my friend to Temecula for a wine tour! I love the wineries in Temecula, especially Wiens and Callaway. You just cannot beat the views from Callaway’s glassed in tasting deck!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m so thankful to the military community is SoCal for their support and confidence! I am also honored to be a member of COPAA, a national organization of parents, attorneys and advocates championing equitable education for all learners. Finally, I am thankful for Susan Reynolds, a field organizer of NCLD’s parent advisory councils, for her professional mentorship, trust and friendship.
Credit: Kelli Slimm Photography