Ann Stressman, M.A. has been an educator at levels from elementary school through college and adult education, as well as teaching in migrant camps and rural and inner-city high school completion classes. She has worked in the foster care system as a foster care worker, foster home licenser, and foster/adoptive parent trainer.
Ann has parented for 46 years—as a birth parent, foster parent, and adoptive parent, and currently as an adoptive grandparent. She has also run a group foster home for teens on her farm in Michigan. She has authored a book on foster care, as well as articles about her horses, the Amish community, and raising children. As an aha! Process consultant, Ann provides training and consulting services for the members of the foster care systems in several states. She also has presented for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, her local support group, and to foster parents in her state’s foster/adoptive association. In addition, she has been a member of a poverty education program run by her local extension service presenting poverty simulations to various groups of professionals who provide services to poverty-level populations.
Ann and her husband are active in their church, and they serve the handicapped and people from poverty in their community. In addition, during these difficult financial times, they have provided housing for several homeless people now that they have retired from doing foster care. With her experience in the foster care system and with poverty-level populations, Ann has been a consultant with aha! Process since 2004.
- Bachelor’s in Home Economics Education from Eastern Michigan University, with minors in social sciences and English
- Master of Arts in English/Professional Writing from Western Michigan University
- Teacher certification, Michigan
- Social work license, Michigan
- Secondary teacher (home economics and English), Oxford, Michigan
- Adult education (high school completion) in Pontiac, Michigan
- ESL instructor in migrant camps in Grant, Michigan
- Advanced first aid and CPR instructor for volunteer firefighters and the general public
- Business writing and literature instructor for Davenport College, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- In-service coordinator for entry-level employees in two hospitals in Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Foster care worker for Bethany Christian Services
- Foster home licenser for Haywood County DSS in Waynesville, North Carolina
- Foster and adoptive parent trainer at foster/adopt parent conventions nationwide
- Foster and adoptive parent, including individual and group home fostering, adopting four teens and one grandchild
- Parenting Someone Else’s Child, aha! Process, 2004
- Articles in magazines on a variety of topics
- Two books currently in progress
Ann’s aha! moment
Ann realized that Ruby’s theories about class differences affecting learning also affected parenting someone else’s children and began applying them to foster care. After requesting to use some of Ruby’s copyrighted materials, Ann met Ruby and they collaborated on Ann’s book. She has since been using Ruby’s information in training sessions and parenting, and she became a presenter for aha! Process on topics related to her book.
Since adolescence I dreamed of fostering teens on a farm and utilizing animal care as a tool to teach responsibility and unconditional love. I also discovered I had a gift for teaching and a passion to help others succeed in life. I am fascinated by social psychology. Through my Amish neighbors, I am able to learn some customs of their culture, as I have done when living in Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods. Having lived in wealth, middle class, and poverty gives me insights that further help me relate to those with whom I am interacting. After finally achieving my dream, I was able to blend my love of the farm and horses with my desire to help children who had troubled backgrounds. Later, discovering I could help many more children by teaching those who parent them allowed me to expand my work. I joined a church in which others share my desire to serve those in need in my community, and my church family supported my ministry while I supported them.
Ann’s best training
My favorite moments are when I can open people’s eyes to “the other person’s view” as I tell them about both the social worker’s job and the parents’ job and help them gain understanding and cooperation through that knowledge. Helping them help each other bridges the gaps and can only help the children they serve. Being able to teach them new ways to reach their children, who often come from entirely different backgrounds and class levels than they do, makes them all more effective in their roles.
What does Ann do for fun?
Of course, with as many children as I have (his, mine, and ours), I now have the opportunity to enjoy many, many grandchildren, and I can travel all over the country to visit them. In addition, my hobby farm gives me hours of pleasure every day. (Is there any creature more beautiful than a baby goat?) I am seldom found in the house doing housework! I have a wide variety of interests, including music, needlework, art, gardening, and homemaking arts like canning and quilting. Best of all are my beloved horses, Justin and Fire. I love restoring old horse-drawn vehicles and riding and driving horses. Taking a ribbon at the county fair can be the highlight of my year, whether it is for horse-related or homemaking skills. I also enjoy my grandparent support group and snatching every opportunity I find to both write and teach. Through my church I am able to maintain friendships with people of similar interests and continue to serve my community.
What are people saying about Ann?
“Mom, I owe everything I am today to you. How can I ever thank you for adopting me?”
“I never knew foster parents understood how we [foster children] felt before I read your book.”
“I love hearing your stories about the children you have had in your home. They are funny and sad and interesting and inspire me to continue fostering.”
Foster care worker: “Those foster parents sure put up with a lot [from the kids]. I am glad I can go home at 5 p.m. They do it 24/7. You’ve given me more ideas on how I can help them do their job.”
“Your experiences with [continuing to mentor] your adult adopted children made me realize what a huge commitment I made when I adopted.”
“Wow! Now I understand why I never seem to ‘be on the same page’ as my foster child. Her value system is from a whole different world than mine.”
“I love Ann’s casual, friendly style. It feels like I’m sitting at her kitchen table having coffee and we’re talking about our children.”
“What I like best about Ann is that she accepts criticism graciously and makes a sincere effort to change.”
“There’s one thing about Ann: She accepts everyone and doesn’t see their faults or differences. She seems to find what’s good in everyone she knows.”