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Rex Sharkey


Michigan, USA

From Challenge To Change: Embracing Gentle Teaching

Meet Rex Sharkey, a Supervising Clinician at Centria Autism and Vice President of the Board of Directors at 3rd Circle, Inc.

During his career in sales, he discovered a nonprofit that takes young adults with disabilities out into the community and volunteered for a couple of years to help fuel his soul. Shortly after that, he learned about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at a career fair and decided to make a career shift. 

Rex’s favorite part of his work is witnessing the strengths of every individual he has the opportunity to support. Continually learning from those he supports, he realizes that while a person may be characterized by a disability, each person possesses their own abilities. Whether it’s mastery over interests or an undeniable grit that pushes past obstacles, he finds those he supports to be his greatest mentors, leaving him inspired every single day.

Shortly after his newfound passion, Rex met Mike Cormier through his martial arts school. Mike also shares Rex’s passion for supporting people and began to mentor Rex in the art of Gentle Teaching.

As a result of their collaboration, Rex and Mike have accomplished many community engagement events (including an annual Red Carpet event for All-Abilities), fundraising opportunities, partnerships with other local charitable organizations, and involvement in the GTI community.

Rex’s biggest passion is to help change ABA by incorporating Gentle Teaching principles into his clinical approach.

Program Description

During this presention, Mike and Rex will discuss how their career paths led them to Gentle Teaching, and how they ultimately sought professions that lead to positive change in the lives of people. The challenges they initially faced in these careers led them to seek a framework that could help provide greater meaning and purpose. Gentle Teaching provided them with this framework.

The principles of gentleness and how they can be applied will be shared, and how we all can help others to feel safe and loved, and become more loving and engaged if they cannot find these things within themselves. Mike and Rex will walk you through how they incorporated the principles of gentleness towards self-reflection and acceptance. They will also discuss some of their vulnerabilities in this space to acknowledge that they are still works in progress and that the journey of self-acceptance never ends.

Lastly, Mike and Rex will discuss Gentle Teaching principles in their respective professional roles, and how using tools of gentleness can influence businesses, nonprofits and organizational culture. 

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