Meet Shakira

Creator & Founder

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The day you find out your child has a learning disability is life-altering. Suddenly, there are resources you need to find, appointments you have to book and people you need to speak to. Understanding the Ontario special education system is a challenge. Many parents feel shame and guilt because it’s like there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. 

I’m Shakira Rouse and I am an Inclusive Education Strategist. I also have a learning disability. Using proven plans, strategies and resources, I help parents and educators learn how to advocate for and support children with learning disabilities so that they know how to navigate the school system. I do this work because I don’t want any student with a learning disability to experience loneliness and frustration like I did.

No one really helped me understand my learning disability or what “learning disability” even meant. I struggled for years, believing that I would just keep failing at what seemed like everything. I really believed that my learning disability would limit what I could achieve in life. I fell through the gaps of the education system over and over again. But there was a light at the end of this tunnel.

When I did my minor program in Inclusive Education, it was an eye-opening experience. I developed a deeper understanding of what a learning disability is and why I had a such a hard time in school. It wasn’t because of my learning disability. It was because I didn’t receive the resources and support that I needed to really understand and advocate for myself. Finally, I could put the missing pieces of my life back together.

That’s when it happened – I started Special Compass in 2015. I wanted to help other people with learning disabilities feel confident and reach their goals. In just a few short years, I’ve been able to do just that.

I’ve shared my work across North America and have reached more than 50 students and parents in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Additionally, I’ve been the keynote speaker and presenter at conferences by organizations such as the Ontario National Alliance of Black Student Educators and the Learning Disability Association of Kingston. In 2020, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) approved Special Compass as a community partner to do workshops in schools across the city.

Having a learning disability is not my weakness; it is my greatest strength. That’s why I’m on a mission to bridge the gap between special education and general education so that all students have equal and equitable opportunities to succeed. Join me on this journey to help navigate students, parents and educators to success.