Mike & Pam Mirabella Photos
Mike Mirabella, aka Papa Mike:
Musician, Songwriter, and Author of Children’s Books
Over the years Mike Mirabella has been known by friends and his fans as “Papa Mike.” He is blessed to have worked with phenomenal colleagues and collaborators while composing, recording and performing his original compositions. Many of Mike’s inspirational songs are published in the ‘Songs’ book by Yohann Anderson (Songs & Creations). Included in this collection are Unconditional Love, Special People, Come to The Banquet, All God’s Children Sing and My Jesus Rose On Easter Morning. Mike has also penned songs for local TV, other artists, as well as a number of songs for children, some of which have found their way into Mike’s award-winning illustrated children’s books.
Mike wrote the poem “On the Luck of an Irish Sailor” as a young teen, and many years later, was encouraged by a former songwriting partner Jennifer Veblen, to develop ‘Sailor’ into a children’s book. To capture an authentic Irish flavor, Mike had it recorded by local Celtic musicians and enlisted, as its lead voice, Irish-born vocalist Shay Black, eldest of the legendary Black Family from Dublin Ireland. Ultimately, Mike had ’Sailor” illustrated by the very talented artist Amy O’Hanlon. Upon submission for book competition, On The Luck Of An Irish Sailor was awarded a Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards gold medal for the category of Music and Drama.
Since his interests are now focused on “books with songs,” Mike considers himself to be an author-teacher-poet-musician; hence, has decided to use “Mirabella Books with Songs” as his brand name. His second book, the first in The Carla Stories, Sister Butterfly, is a Pinnacle gold medal award winner in the category of Children’s Inspirational. It is available in e-book download and in both soft and hard-bound print versions. Mike is presently working on the second book in The Carla Stories, I Used To Be Shy. This time the text of ‘Shy’ is co-written with Lenny Lipton (Puff The Magic Dragon). Watch for future news about The Carla Stories, on ‘Papa’ Mike’s website: MirabellaBooksWithSongs.com. All books in the Carla Stories are about inclusion, belonging and compassion. Each book is professionally recorded, can be found on Mike’s website or You Tube and comes with colorful illustrations. Included with each book is notated music along with an original bonus song.
Mike is now a retired public-school teacher living with his wife Pam in the East Bay. Mike sits on the Board of Directors of BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association), still writes poetry, blogs, composes music and publishes children’s books. His wife Pam is a former elected public official who served on the Contra County School Board for 28 years. She was twice invited to the Clinton White House to testify for the Federal funds that by law, were promised on behalf of people with disabilities. She continues to champion causes that promote the passage of laws that better protect the civil rights for our disabled citizens.
Many are aware that Pam and Mike raised two wonderful daughters into adulthood. Their first child, Carla, was born with Down syndrome and faced many challenges throughout her life. But she also excelled in areas her parents could never have foreseen. Memories of Carla’s special journey is still the muse that inspires Mike to speak through his music and books. Pam still persists in politics with her determined advocacy.
Carla and her sister Kelly taught Mike and Pam so many lessons about the human potential. Although Carla has now passed, her inspiration still lives on in the lives that she touched. Her sister Kelly Ann has chosen to follow a career in the medical field. She is married with two children and works in research with disabled children at the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, TX.
Both Mike and Pam are available to speak publicly at special events and to perform their songs. They bring their message of hope for young families of intellectually and physically challenged children.
Advocate for Education and Special Needs, Speaker
Pam Mirabella has a mission: to be “a voice for education.” Her passion is lobbying legislators to address the needs of all our children, especially those of our most challenged students. During the Clinton administration, Pam twice testified at the White House as to the need for adequate federal funding for Special Education
Her purpose was and still is, to serve as resource and advocate for parents and students. Pam enjoys community outreach and welcomes opportunities to speak to small or large groups about special education. Her passion and determination spring from her experiences as the mother of a special needs child.
She has recently joined her husband “Papa Mike” Mirabella in his efforts to publish children’s books with songs. Their series of 3 books called the Carla Stories, focuses on inclusion, belonging and compassion: Sister Butterfly, I Used to be Shy and Special People. Website: MirabellaBooksWithSongs.com
Pam and Mike fondly recall their time raising their daughters Carla and Kelly.
After 18 years of speech therapy, their Down Syndrome daughter Carla graduated from school with a certificate of completion and was chosen to be one of three speakers of her 1991 class at De Anza High School, Richmond, CA. She continued her education in the Transition Program at Contra Costa College in culinary arts, and then worked and lived independently in Napa, CA. for 14 years. Sadly in 2008, Carla died of a glioblastoma brain tumor.
Their younger daughter Kelly attended El Cerrito High School, then graduated with a B.S. from USC, with an M.S. from California State University Long Beach, CA. Kelly is now married, has two children and resides in Dallas TX where she is Lab Manager and Senior Bio-Mechanist for the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. She was deeply connected with Carla and learned compassion and patience as her sibling.
LEARNING CURVE FOR NEW MOM
Carla was born in 1972 at Kaiser Hospital, San Francisco. Times were very different back then and Mike and Pam were given the choice, by the hospital staff, to bring her home to face the unknown or to give her up for adoption. For Mike and Pam the option was clear and chose to bring her home. As with all special needs parents, they went through the five stages of grief, dealing with the failed expectation of having a “normal” child. But soon, help was on the way. The Mirabellas were given support by staff members at Catholic Charities and the North Bay Regional Center. Carla was placed on the fast track with physical therapy and in 3 months, Pam attended her first Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting at the George Miller Center in Richmond, CA. The physical therapist trained Pam to focus on Carla’s gross and fine motor skills at home and by 9 months old, Carla was riding on the yellow bus to attend the George Miller Center. Soon, Pam enrolled in special classes at the local college. That was the beginning of Pam’s steep learning curve in early child development at Contra Costa Community College.
BECOMING AN ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN
By necessity, Pam became the key supporter and advocate for Carla’s education. Pam served on the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Special Education Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and was Chairperson for 6 years. She founded and is past President of Parents and Advocates for Special Education in WCCUSD and created support groups for parents and siblings of the disabled. In 1980, Pam received the PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) Honorary Award.
In 1990, the Federal Law 94-142 was passed and guaranteed a free appropriate public education to each child with a disability. Disability Rights Education Defense Fund (DREDF), lawyers worked as the advocates to mainstream Carla from her isolated site to join a regular Elementary kindergarten class for a few hours per week.
LEADERSHIP & CIVIC ACTIVITIES
In 1988, Pam was elected to serve as a Trustee of the Contra Costa County Board of Education and served in that position for 28 years. As Trustee she had many leadership roles:
- reactivated the Contra Costa County School Boards Association (CCCSBA);
- CCCSBA VP Programs Chair and Legislation Chair 2011-15;
- founded and chaired the California County Board of Education (CCBE) Legislation committee 1996;
- participated in National School Boards Association (NSBA) Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, DC with the California School Board Association (CSBA) and CCBE 2016.
In 1994, Pam graduated from California State University, East Bay with a BA major in Liberal Arts and a minor in Business. She authored two research papers: “School District Organization: Is Bigger Better?” (1994), and created a ballot proposal to “Appointed versus Elected County Superintendents of Schools” (1993).