Fostering Inclusion and Resilience in Education: The Impact of Circle of Friends

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About the Guest(s):

Robyn Stack Reagan is the CEO of Circle of Friends, an organization with a mission to promote inclusion for students with disabilities and those living with adversity. With her extensive background in working with youth in residential treatment and fostering youth with mental illness, Reagan brings a wealth of experience to the area of inclusive education and advocacy. Her professional journey includes strategic planning and implementation of programs promoting inclusion, reflecting her passion for supporting students and empowering them to appreciate differences and build authentic relationships.


In this episode, Tim Villegas welcomes Robyn Stack Reagan, the dynamic CEO of Circle of Friends, for an engaging conversation that dives deep into the organization’s mission and the tangible impact of inclusion in educational settings. This candid discussion unveils the profound effects that fostering genuine friendships and promoting anti-bullying can have on students of all backgrounds, particularly disabled learners and those facing adversity.

Robyn shares the compelling origin story of Circle of Friends, which began with a determination to help one student with Down syndrome make friends in high school. The movement quickly grew into a popular club driven by student leaders eager to encourage inclusion. She also emphasizes the importance of Circle of Friends as a model that transcends disability support and reaches students facing various sorts of adversity, including English language learners, foster youth, and LGBTQIA+ students.

An essential facet of this episode is the focus on the misconceptions about inclusion and the reality of its societal benefits. Robyn discusses the organization’s approach to eradicating the helper-helpee dynamic by fostering peer-to-peer relationships based on mutual respect and equality—a core value of Circle of Friends. Listeners will leave the conversation with a nuanced understanding of the critical need for safe, inclusive school environments that cultivate long-lasting, positive change.


Key Takeaways:

  • Circle of Friends started with the goal of helping one student make friends, embodying the mission to promote inclusion across student populations.
  • The program has expanded to address students living with various adversities, broadening the reach and impact of the organization.
  • The core values of Circle of Friends, including honoring diversity and cultivating friendship, play a vital role in guiding the program’s methods and objectives.
  • Overcoming misconceptions about inclusion is a central challenge addressed by the organization, with an emphasis on the shared benefits for all students.
  • The Circle of Friends program serves as both an antidote to bullying and a platform for developing emotional intelligence and advocacy skills among students.


Circle of Friends Website:

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