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Ep 103: Think Inclusive- Tim V. (Full Transcript)



Jey (00:15.048)

My audience, top notch. Love my live in studio audience and welcome to another week of the YoungDad Podcast. I'm your host Jay. I'm super excited to be with you guys today and host my man, Tim. Tim, you have been podcasting since 2012. You're the director of comms with Think Inclusive. You are also a husband of father. You primarily talk a lot about inclusive education, podcasts, and a bunch of nerdy stuff like science, sci-fi.

vinyl records, classic movies, and baseball. And you say you've basically been an old man your entire life. And same, baseball, I was watching, it was just last night, I was watching a cable channel over at my in-laws and the channel was talking about the rat population in New York City. And it was so interesting, my fiance changed it, and I was like, change it back, what are you doing? And then the next one was about the...

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (01:03.312)

Mm-hmm.

Jey (01:12.504)

trash in the sewer system in like New York and Manhattan. And that was so interesting. And then the next one after that was talking about like YouTube and like internet and things like that and how that's evolved and things like that. And I'm like, don't you dare change this channel. This is awesome stuff. So basically I've also been an old man my entire life. Sci-fi, science, classic movies, baseball, all the old man things are my kind of things. I love the old man stuff.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (01:18.378)

Mm-hmm.

Jey (01:41.304)

I just say I'm an old soul. So yeah, so Tim, that's a little bit about you, a couple things we share in common. Go ahead and tell the listeners a little bit about yourself, what you do, and a little bit about your fatherhood journey.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (01:46.372)

Yeah.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (01:53.988)

Sure. Well, thanks for the introduction, Jay, and for the applause. I've never been in front of a live studio audience like that. So appreciate that. So my name is Tim Villegas, if you didn't know how to pronounce my last name, nobody does. It's fine. I have been podcasting for a long time. I've been podcasting for the same podcast. So I started Think Inclusive in 2012 with the Logitech headset mic.

I'm using GarageBand and Skype and I was just learning along the way, and just like everybody else. Um, at the time I was a public school teacher, so I taught in public schools for 16 years, and then in 2020, I transitioned out of the classroom and school district to, uh, communications. And so right now I'm the director of communications for the Maryland coalition for inclusive education. I'm sure we'll talk about that later. Um,

And I am a dad, you know, and I have three kids. I have a 17 year old. She's a senior in high school. I have a, a 14 year old who is an eighth grader in middle school. And I have a, um, 11 year old who is a sixth grader in middle school. So three kids, two year olds, one boy. And I w and my wife and I just celebrated our 20th.

uh, anniversary last year, last September. So I've been, been married a while too. So all the things, all the things.

Jey (03:29.468)

awesome. All the things. I love that. Well, that's awesome. Congratulations on the 20 years with your wife. That's an incredible feat, especially today. So, congratulations on that. That's awesome. What? So, you were in education for 16 years. You left in 2020 during the pandemic years.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (03:48.229)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jey (03:53.18)

Was that a big influence on you having to transition to like online learning out of the classroom and to uh Zoom world for education. Is that a lot of what kind of pushed you out or what were some of the The things that made you go from that transition because that's a long time to be in education. You're vested at that point You're all the things you're established. They're not going to take away your classroom. There's no way they're going to get rid of you

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (03:53.735)

Yyyy

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (04:14.276)

Mm-hmm.

Jey (04:21.612)

kind of thing, especially male teachers are such a needed commodity in the United States. There's not nearly enough, especially, you know, men of color are just so valuable because it's a reflection of these kids who you're probably teaching and working with to see that, you know, in front of them as an example of education. So what kind of made you leave from education to communications?

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (04:41.409)

Yeah.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (04:50.772)

Well, I, um, there was a part of me that didn't want to leave. Um, I've worked for two, two school systems. So I grew up in California and, uh, that's where I call home. Uh, Pasadena was actually the school district. I lived in Pasadena and also worked in Pasadena Unified School District. That was my first teaching job. And then in 2008, we moved to Georgia.

for a lot of reasons we can get into that, you know, we can or can't, you know, don't have to, but.

Jey (05:25.716)

Yeah, you can't whatever you want to get into feel free to get into it And then also just so you know when I say men of color, I'm biracial I'm just very light skinned so I didn't meet any offense by that So please don't take any offense to that if you're listening, please don't just assume I called Tim a man of color for no reason I also am as well just Differently, so if you're on YouTube, that'll make sense If you're not watching the video format on this it probably won't make sense. So I just wanted to clear that with you

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (05:42.739)

Hahaha!

Jey (05:55.348)

I'll just make sure I didn't defend there, so.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (05:55.52)

It's all good. It's all good. Yeah. And I typically don't I, you know, I typically don't do video podcasts. But if you are listening, yes, I am a brown skin man. I'm wearing a wearing glasses. I've got a hat, just like Jay, but different. It's blue and gray. And it's actually the Oklahoma State outline. And it's, it's okay, la because it is the minor

Jey (06:18.712)

That's.

Jey (06:23.656)

Oklahoma City Dodgers, the AAA baseball team of the LA Angels, or the LA Dodgers. I'm so dumb. I do beat writing for the high A affiliate of the LA Angels here in the Tri-Cities, the Dust Devils. So that's why I said LA Angels because I'm so used to saying LA Angels when I'm talking about baseball or talking about minor league baseball.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (06:25.314)

Yeah, that's right. That's right.

Yes. LA dot. No, it's okay.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (06:37.29)

Okay.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (06:47.876)

Amazing. Uh, yeah. So, um, in 2008, we moved to Georgia and, uh, I started working in, you know, in special education classrooms. And the reason why I eventually left was because I am a passionate advocate for inclusive education, meaning I want to see, uh, learners, um, you know, with and without disabilities learning together.

Uh, in the same classroom, in the same spaces, having access to all the same curriculum and equipping educators to do that. And what I saw in public schools, you know, very, from the very beginning all the way until I left was, um, some really outdated mindsets about the, about what kids could learn and could do. Um, and I just.

I tried my best to move things forward in my districts. And I think some progress was made, but all the time I was doing that, I also had this other outlet of podcasting and blogging. And so I was meeting all of these different people from all across the country and the world, advocating and trying to do the same types of things. And I got to the point in 2020, where it's like,

Okay. The world is different, right? And we all started to reevaluate and think like, okay, well, like when we all get back in person, like, what do we want? What kind of world do we want? What kind of, what kind of schools do we want? And it just got me thinking. I had tried looking outside of the school district or moving like to a different, uh, roller capacity, uh, previously.

But that was, I think the thing that really made me go, okay, I think it's time for a change. So then when I started looking, then I realized, oh, there could be something out there. And I emailed, um, my resume to, uh, a friend of mine who, um, was. Like, sorry, my, sorry, my, my kid's middle school just called. So I think I might have to take this.

Jey (09:10.06)

You're fine.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (09:12.664)

Uh, let me see there. Hopefully they'll leave a message. Um, so I emailed my, the, the CEO at the time of the Maryland coalition for inclusive education, cause we had developed a relationship over the years. And I said, Hey, do you have anything? Like anything related to communications? Cause that's kind of what I'm looking at. I've been doing all this work on the side. I, you know, built up a following.

Jey (09:15.755)

Okay.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (09:40.636)

Um, this is really interesting, interesting to me. And she's like, actually we're looking for a communication specialist, but what do you think about just coming on and being our director and you can bring your podcast and the blog and all the work that you've been doing, you just do it underneath the nonprofit. And I was like, uh, hold up. That sounds like my dream job. So I immediately hung up and called my wife and I'm like, I'm like,

Honey, you will not believe what just happened. And so that set a chain of events into me leaving the school system, even though, you know, I still have my, I still have part of my pension, because I was in there for so long, but I don't get my full pension, of course. But yeah, it just was such a blessing. It was so fortunate. I'm very fortunate to be able to do what I'm doing, including talking to you, Jay, and having time to

tell people about my story and the story of our organization.

Jey (10:45.368)

I love that. No, I appreciate you having you on. Special education is something that's always like resonated with me even to today. So I never was in any special education growing up. I was actually pushed ahead throughout all the school. Very fortunate that I was blessed with those gifts and abilities. But I can remember all the way back to Head Start, four, five years old, very, very young. My best friend at Head Start, his name was Michael.

He was the only kid in the wheelchair. I was one of his only friends, going way back to Head Start, four years old, 20 plus years ago, 25 years ago at this point. And that was my best friend, was the kid in the wheelchair. I was the only kid at that school that he would let touch his wheelchair. That wasn't a teacher. Even after one day, I remember this day so clearly, it's wild, but we were out on the playground, I was pushing his wheelchair, I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing.

I didn't see the crack and his wheelchair caught and he went face forward into the ground.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (11:50.317)

No.

Jey (11:51.248)

And, but we were still friends after that. He still let me push his wheelchair. Thanks for great. We were kids. So it's very forgiving, uh, situation. So special education always resonated with me throughout all the time. Uh, when I was in high school and learned to, um, when I got my water safety instructor, uh, certificate and was able to teach swim lessons at the pool I was at, I was a junior senior in high school.

And one of the things I did was I taught the adaptive swim lessons. And I got to teach the kids with the special needs. I would use my free periods and then that would line up with the adaptive swim lessons. And I would go from school across the street to the pool, teach swim lessons to these kids with special needs and then go back. So I did that for a few years in high school. Super fun. When I went to college originally, when I very first went to college, my major was special education, K through 12.

with the full intention of being a SPED teacher, KT12. Well, that wasn't the path that I ended up going. I got two years into the program. I had a professor. He kind of scared me out of it. I wish I would have known better, been able to work through that, but he said, well, if you're not 100% in this, this path leads to a high burnout. If you're not fully committed right now, then get out. So I got out. I changed my major to business. And then I ended up getting married a couple of years later.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (13:09.632)

Hmm.

Jey (13:14.064)

and then dropped out of school, didn't go back to school for a while. Fast forward, got divorced. And now fast forward even more, divorce everything. Now I have my bachelor's and master's. My bachelor's is in human services with an emphasis on child and family welfare and my master's is in developmental psychology. So fast forward all that, tons of work with special populations, special education, neurodivergent.

brains, youth, families, all the people in between. So I have a true love for this work that I do. Currently, right now, I work in a wraparound program with intensive services, and I get to serve a variation of youth and families, a lot of them with special needs, but a lot of them also with very big behavioral challenges as well. And some of that is that families don't know that they can access

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (13:45.902)

Mm.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (14:04.632)

Mm-hmm.

Jey (14:12.184)

accommodations, 504 plans, IEPs based on their behavioral needs alone. They don't have to have the special education needs, the autism, the developmental delays, the intellectual delays, the physical disabilities to be able to access these services and to be able to access these accommodations to help their kid who is just special but in a very different way. It could be ODD. ADHD. It could be...

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (14:20.849)

Mm, yeah.

Jey (14:42.584)

who knows in between anxiety that's crippling, depression that's major depressive disorder that's just crippling as well in its own ways that translates into these manifested selves in these behavioral challenges. They don't know that they can access these services and that they're able to do so because it's just not talked about. And the reason why is that at least for here that I've found working longer and longer in this field

and being on this side of it as the advocate for these youth and families is that the districts just don't want to put the time, money and effort into it. It's not that they don't have the time. It's not that they don't have the money. And it's not that they don't have the effort. It's just a lot of it's, well, I don't want to have to do that. We don't want to have to stay extra an extra 20, 30 minutes that we'd be here anyways to do a meeting. We don't want to have to use our resources that we already have here to evaluate.

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (15:27.341)

Thank you.

Jey (15:36.82)

to go through the evaluation process, to give this kid who needs the accommodation the accommodation. Well, if it's just a want that they don't want to do, unless they have to do it for the highest intensity and highest need kids. But that's what it's really about. It's about getting all these kids who do need it, the equal access to education, because there's a big gap in the accessibility and equal access to education that isn't...

talked about nearly enough, especially for kids who aren't just straight disabled. We know that those kids are going to get accommodations built in automatically, no doubt. But what about the other kids who also need it, but in a different way? So that's kind of a lot of the why I love what you do, even though you're out in Maryland, right?

Tim Villegas (he/him) ~ MCIE (16:12.176)

Thank you.

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