"We are in the midst of an exciting time of growth here at PEN as we launch new Affiliates and push to become a nationwide movement.
To accomplish this growth we have had to do some restructuring in order to maximize our resources. Regretfully, we have had to cut back some of our local staff.
Please read Natalie Tamburello's generous letter below. We are so proud of Natalie for, as you can read, she has grown up along with our organization and is a vivid example of the benefits of our LD community support. While we no longer have a full time position at PEN that can maximize Natalie's talents, we look forward to watching her continue to grow and remain an important part of the PEN community. We can’t wait to see what she does next!"
- Laura Maloney, Executive Director
When I was applying to high school I was asked, “If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?” I told the admissions director that I would give the money to PEN and described all the reasons why: no organization had understood, supported or empowered me more.
I participated in PEN’s first student panel in 2003 as a seventh grader. You can still see that panel video on SAFE’s website. Three years later, PEN launched SAFE. Before I graduated from high school, SAFE started its first Eye to Eye mentoring program, produced a public service video for the Giants, partnered with 826 Valencia Street and published Read This When You Can, the first anthology of essays written by and for students who learn differently, and we started speaking publicly throughout the Bay Area.
I have been privileged and honored to be a constant part of this organization and its commitment to SAFE students. This fall, with a Masters in Education under my belt, I returned to PEN as the SAFE Program Director. I was elated to be able to give back to the organization that gave so much to me.
SAFE’s success is directly tied to the enthusiasm of the students and the commitment of the facilitators and advisors. We are family, a community, tied together by our unique learning experiences and our commitment to change how we educate in this country – employing a strength-based, rather than a deficit model of education.
I can’t summarize everyone’s contribution, but I know that each and every one of the SAFE students in all three chapters has made the success of this organization possible. And I can only imagine what lies ahead for current and future SAFE chapters given the talent, creativity and commitment of our SAFE students. To each of you, I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey; I am honored and privileged to know you all.
The work we began this year will continue and I cannot wait to attend the San Francisco chapter’s first SAFE play, help fund-raise for the next EdRev Scholarship Fund, explore Silicon Valley’s website, and hear the Sacramento chapter’s EdRev anthem.
Nick, Mariah and Christie are amazing facilitators; together we made a great team, and without their huge commitment to SAFE, the amazing ideas of the SAFE students cannot be realized. The insightful and supportive guidance of the SAFE advisors is equally essential, for without each of you acting as a sounding board, SAFE would not be where it is today. It is clear that together this community can do anything.
I regret that I never did find that million dollars for PEN, and unfortunately there is not a full-time position for the SAFE Program Director at this time. Therefore, my time as member of the PEN staff has come to an end for now. The chapters of course, will continue and a part-time facilitator will be hired for San Francisco in the fall.
As you can see, I’ve never really left this community and I never will. I promise to remain close to you all; please feel free to contact me any time. I can always be reached at natalie.tamburello AT gmail.com. I am here for each and every one of you during this transition and I will always be available for the students and families of SAFE whether I am a PEN staff member or not.
It was my dream to give back to SAFE, the group that gave so much to me. As this school year flew past, you blew me away with your maturity, insight, ideas and empowerment. Continue to Stand Up, and Speak Out! I know that this is a community that will change the terrain of education.