Dynamic, inspiring, humorous, relevant, informative and motivating... These are the
words most often used to describe Shari Rusch Furnstahl. A seasoned professional, Shari has the life experience and professional credentials that qualify her as a speaker of unmatched versatility.
An inspirational and humorous story of a
learning disabled, “at risk”
child’s journey from the back of the class to the head of the
class; from a
special education student to special education teacher, From
to Stepping Stones features practical ideas and sound advice
to help every child,
including those with special needs, to achieve beyond
assessments and reach
their potential. This book is a must-read!
By the time Shari was in first grade, thick medical and academic files
described her limitations and “disabilities.” Assessments had confirmed
the worst about her future. Experiencing severe vision, hearing, learning
and physical challenges, it was believed Shari would never reach beyond
the fifth grade level as an adult. Her parents were told to put her in an
institution. Thankfully, that isn’t where her story would end. Teachers,
peers and family members willing to offer assistance and encouragement,
gave hope and new direction every time she reached a dead end. With the
support of those around her and a steely determination, Shari was able to
succeed far beyond those early assessments. From a clumsy child with a
speech impediment... from a student few believed could learn... to
becoming a special education teacher, Shari’s story celebrates the triumph
of the human spirit confirming that one person can make a difference.
Shari’s struggle with her education is just part of her fascinating story.
As a “latchkey” child from a single-parent household, Shari spent most of
her childhood dealing with separation, divorce, blended families, economic
challenges and other “at-risk” factors that were as threatening as the
issues she faced at school. Held afloat by the support of caring teachers
Shari hoped one day to create a different life than the one she was
experiencing. Now as a wife, mother and teacher, she is living proof that
where you start out doesn’t have to determine your destiny. At moments
hilarious and at others poignant, Shari’s is as captivating as she is
From conferences to workshops, banquets to retreats, Shari’s humorous
delivery and wealth of personal and professional experience will inspire,
inform and encourage.
Born with a number of handicaps including learning disabilities, assessed in the first grade as unable to learn beyond the fifth or sixth grade as an adult.
Graduated fourth in her class of 450 with a 3.98 GPA.
Began public speaking in the public schools as a volunteer in special education classrooms. Became an advocate for special needs students, speaking to legislators, administrators, teachers, and community members about the need for integration rather than
separation of disabled students.
Professional motivational speaker since 1987, presenting to students, teachers, administrators, community leaders, and business people throughout the US and Canada.
Ten years of service as a volunteer in Washington state adult and juvenile prison systems.
Graduated with Honors with a BA in Psychology from the University of Washington.
Received a fifth year graduate degree in education from the University of Washington becoming a certified teacher.
Received an endorsement in special education.
Earned a masters in education with an emphasis in "at-risk" students and multicultural issues from the University of Washington.
Teaching experience includes extensive work with "at-risk" and special needs students.
Author of the book," Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones."
Founder and director of a successful GED and Life Skills program for
pregnant and parenting teenagers.
Executive Director of the non-profit organization Positive Programs
providing training to students from diverse backgrounds and employing
them in unique and innovative assembly and concert programs.
Work Now and In the Future, OR
Bell Telephone Nation Conference, NE
International Kiwanis Convention, DC
International Soropotomists Convention, WA
DECA/VICA/FBLA Conference, WA & OR
State Leadership Conference, CT, WA, OR, NV
State Rehabilitation Assoc., TX
State Special Ed. Conference, CA
Western Area Power Administration, AZ
SuperWow/YEC Youth Events, GA
Summit 94 Youth Rally, CA
Tri-State Key Club Conference, MN
Spiritacular Leadership Forum, SD
Conference for Exceptional Children, CT
Peer Support Conference, BC, Canada
Arizona Principals & Superintendents Conference, AZ
Special Olympics State Conference, WA
California State Admin. Conference, NV
Idaho Elementary & Special Ed. Administrators, ID
SADD State Conferences, MI, MS
National Institute for Learning Disabilities Conf., VI
State Conf. for Career and Tech. Educators, CA, MO
Elementary & Secondary Administrators, OH
Keynote presenter for hundreds of teacher and administrator
in-services as well as
all-school assemblies throughout the U.S. including the following districts:
Vero Beach, FL
Rocky River, OH
St. Louis, MO
Blue Hill, MN
Shari is available for keynotes, half-day, and full-day presentations. For additional information please email