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Our Story

Tammy Fenster

Special Educator K-12 
Adapted Curriculum 
Communication Practitioner


About Tammy:

  • Educator specialized in adapted curriculum, communication, reframing behavior, Autism, and Down syndrome

  • Parent of 3 neurodiverse children: Down syndrome, Speech-Language Impairment, Dyslexia, and ADHD

  • Certified in Assistive Technology: experienced with multimodal communication systems

  • Trained Spelling to Communicate (S2C) instructor

  • Natural Play Therapy Practitioner

  • Mindfulness Practitioner

  • Volunteer at Wings of Hope Ranch, Horse Therapy Program

  • Enjoys baking; love of animals and gardening!​

Tammy Fenster, special educator, mother of three neurodivergent children, her daughter of which has an Intellectual Developmental Disability. Parent advocacy took over Tammy’s world as she faced many obstacles in her children’s education. She remained tireless in striving to overcome a bureaucratic system of education.


Tammy did this by educating herself and by educating educators in educational rights, inclusion, discrimination, and injustice. In fact, one of her children had no voice – truly could not communicate through spoken language – and was very misunderstood. Her daughter experienced trauma in elementary school from being misunderstood due to her nervous and sensory systems, communication differences, and the system’s mindset. Through Tammy’s insights, she helped guide her daughter’s educational teams in a meaningful partnership.


Working with educators was only one side of the coin for Tammy. She firmly believes in supporting the “whole child”. In 1998, she founded “Downright Special”, a Vermont statewide parent support group, to ensure parents had a greater voice in education and in their communities. Tammy also served on the Board of Directors for the Northern New England Down Syndrome Congress (NNEDSC) and Special Olympics Vermont. Additionally, she led and organized the Vermont Down Syndrome Buddy Walk for 6 years bringing awareness and promoting acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. Tammy’s philanthropic work has touched countless families.


Through Tammy’s experience of advocating for all her children’s education, she chose to continue making a difference by becoming a special educator over 10 years ago, but the system limited her in how she could appropriately support students. Tammy visualized an inclusive education environment to foster natural learning for any child, no matter their differences. This became reality in 2022 as Tammy formed the private nonprofit educational model, Mosaic Pathways.

Lynn-Ellin Zeigler

M.S., Special Education
Communication Practitioner


Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt a bit different. I had trouble making friends with kids my own age and gravitated toward my parents’ friends instead - getting invited to adult dinner parties where I would talk politics and philosophy while taking bites of my chicken tenders. I was your quintessential bookworm and teacher’s pet all the way through high school. I made straight A’s, was enrolled in a gifted program and then specialty center, and was always “a pleasure to have in class” on my report card. But underneath the honor roll certificates and the frequent accolades, I was struggling more than anyone knew. I had a brain that was wired differently - prone to overstimulation, anxiety, and executive dysfunction. While I could eventually show up with little preparation and ace whatever test was before me, I would use any excuse to leave class in the process. My mind was constantly racing, I hated sitting still, and I was either bored or overwhelmed - or both at once. When I looked around me, I felt as though everyone had been given a manual for life - explaining social skills, calming strategies, and how to be a "normal" person - and I must have been out sick that day. 


It wasn’t until my early adulthood that I started to mingle with like-minded people, and I learned about neurodiversity: the idea that different people have different kinds of brains, and those differences help keep the world spinning! I have a brain that is great at writing, understanding big concepts, and practicing empathy with anyone I meet - but I needed to learn strategies to help with my organization, my time management, and my anxiety. 


While I was still discovering myself, I found I felt the most at peace in nature. On the top of a mountain peak, staring out past the trees, I was always reminded of my place in this vast, beautiful world, even when it felt like I didn’t fit it. At Mosaic Pathways, I aim to be the mentor that I needed when I was young - someone to say “you are exactly who you are meant to be.” I dream of a world where school is not synonymous with grades and standardized testing, but instead with personal growth. A place where a child learns about their strengths and abilities, while also learning strategies that will enable them to reach their greatest potential as they move through adulthood. Through my journey to find myself, I likewise found a supportive community, a love of the natural world, and a passion for thinking “outside of the box.” Now, it’s my turn to help guide the next generation of exceptional minds through their own personal journey of self-discovery.

About Lynn-Ellin:

  • Richmond born and bred!

  • Studied psychology at Christopher Newport University (I did my senior thesis on the therapeutic benefits of nature!)

  • Master's in Special Education from George Mason University

  • Proud daughter of a special education teacher of 30+ years (and former Teacher of the Year)

  • Communication Regulation Partner specialized in communication using letterboards (trained in Spelling to Communicate (S2C))

  • Years of experience in (and passion for) different types of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC)

  • Loves to paint, write poetry, and play guitar 

  • Cat person (but I love dogs too!)

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