I just had a conversation with another mother of a special needs child. Hers is now an adult, in his late 30’s, but she has gone through many challenges in her years with her son and hers is the voice of experience. Talking to her has really shown me that the need to help the families of our Warrensburg students is not a new thing. There is no denying that things have gotten much better since her son was a child in the school system, but we still need to encourage and maintain the support and communication we do have, but a the same time we should always strive to make it better. I hope that I can do that as I become more active in the District.
I have to admit, I was having some problems coming up with something to write about for my next posting, but after talking to my friend, I think I’ll talk about the support system that we have here, and what I think it could be. Yes, I tend to be very interested in the support for special needs family, but I have a 7th grader as well, and I realize that my special needs child is not the only one who needs positive connections with the world around him. We, just like all families, have idiosyncrasies and challenges that we deal with every day. Whether it is an actual diagnosed Special Need, or just that miraculous affliction called TEENAGER; we all need support and guidance, and a network that will build us up and hold us there. So that’s what I want to talk about today – the positive connections between families and schools, and the support that we provide each other.
Here’s how I see it.
- We are all here to help and support our own kids,
- We are also here to help and support each other’s kids; therefore,
- We as families support and are supported by the Schools, which includes all the teachers;
- The teachers are supported by the various educational specialists and professionals – including instructional designers, educational coaches, counselors, therapists, school nurses, and paraprofessionals, all of whom also support the families and their students by learning what the children need to succeed in school and trying to help them get those things.
- The Teachers and Professional Staff are supported by the Support Staff: Office professionals who keep it all running smoothly and Maintenance crews who keep things clean, organized, and working as they should. Together they make sure the kids are safe and have the structure they need.
- The Teachers, Professional Staff, and Support Staff are all supported by their Administrators – their principles who are watching out for their school and their students. They know the laws, the regulations, the teachers, and the people. They walk a tough line sometimes, but they work hard, and they try to do what they can to help everyone, even if they don’t always see eye to eye with the parents, and sometimes the teachers.
- The schools, including the teachers, the Professionals, the Support, and the Administration, are supported by the District and its organizations – including the Directors of specific programs, and, of course, the School Board. These are the ones who make the decisions, and they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for making sure that the people know what they are doing and why. They are also the ones that the families have to support by telling them what they need. Neither the Board nor the PTO can do much if they don’t know what the families in their schools need.
None of these bodies can function well on their own, and the key to all of this is communication. The stronger the communication is between them, the better they can function over all. Families need to know what the teachers are doing; teachers and professionals need to know what’s going on with the kids; and everyone needs to know what’s happening with the district. There is no reason why families shouldn’t be very aware of the services that are available to their children (special needs or not), and there’s no good reason the schools should be kept in the dark regarding any child’s personal needs. The district should make a point of publicizing information that is of interest to the public – the teachers and the families – and not necessarily just on line or by special request. Some families don’t have internet, and some don’t know who to call to get the information. And families and teachers should make a point of attending meetings so they know what’s going on and can tell someone what they need.
As good as our district really is, sometimes there seems to be a bit of an adversarial relationship between these vested parties, and there shouldn’t be. We are all working towards the same end – the success of our students – and we can work together to make it happen, as long as we stay connected and communicate.