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Monica Kmetz Cochran. M.Ed

Learning Without Borders


Monica is passionate about nurturing the love of learning and has vast experience in helping learners of all ages enjoy learning. She works locally in the southeastern Michigan area and virtually (online) all over the world. Although she loves working with all learners, she has a special place in her heart for the quirky learners — the round pegs in the square holes. A passion of hers is to help learners who have challenges develop their strengths, learn in ways that work for them, and be able to thrive in our 21st-century world.

 

 


She has worked with children, parents, and other adults in a wide variety of educational, hospital, and business settings for over 40 years. She has been active in alternative education since 1978, including home educating two of her own children. She worked with other home learning families at Clonlara School of Ann Arbor, Michigan for 10 years. After that, she worked online with SelfDesign Learning Foundation of Vancouver, British Columbia for more than 10 years in a variety of roles, including director of SelfDesign Global, working with learners and families outside of BC.

Monica earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh in a multi-disciplinary program in child development, social work, and early childhood education, and a Master’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in special education. She also earned a Primary Montessori Certification from the American Montessori Society, is an Advanced DIR practitioner. Recently Monica completed the Safe and Sound Protocol training. She also holds a K-12 Michigan teaching certificate in learning disabilities and emotional impairment and many post-graduate credits.

 

Monica is a lifelong learner and chooses to see challenges as opportunities. She seeks to learn from every situation, both professionally and personally. For example, when personal computing was a new phenomenon, Monica couldn’t locate a good resource to teach engineers and teachers the basics of how to use personal computers in their work. So she and her partner rolled up their sleeves and wrote the book, What? Me Drive a Computer? And a few years later, when conventional school could no longer support her gifted and talented son, he refused to go back to school. So, Monica and his dad researched alternatives and became “accidental homeschooling parents.”

What she learned during those years served her well when her family faced their biggest challenge of helping their 17-year-old son recover from a catastrophic car accident. He suffered numerous physical injuries and a severe traumatic brain injury, so he was in the hospital for many months and had to relearn so many necessary physical, emotional, and cognitive skills. Many were doubtful he would ever walk again, let alone be able to function independently and learn once more. Fortunately, she knew him well as a learner and did a deep dive into neuroplasticity and how the brain rewires itself. Since this concept was very new then, it was not well-accepted at the time. With the help of many friends, therapists, and colleagues who were open to trying new ideas and approaches, and a whole lot of grit, he has regained a multitude of skills. A few years ago, he graduated from college and is working toward fulfilling his potential.

Life continued to roll along for Monica, too, of course. Over the past 10 years, she has helped several family members through illness and disability, along with her elderly parents as they aged and transitioned. Monica continues to work to create a positive meaning from her life experiences and to use what she has learned with students with disabilities, learning challenges, and chronic illnesses. When families work with her, they often say right away, “She really gets me.”

Over the years she has served in leadership positions and boards of several alternative schools. Currently, Monica is active in the Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry at her church and volunteers with the Alpha House Interfaith Hospitality Network for homeless families in her community. In her free time, Monica reads voraciously and loves to travel, spend time with her partner, kids and grandkids, play with her dogs, and garden a wee bit.