November is Parental Involvement Month

November is National Parental Involvement Month. As a mom and grandmother, I know there is no greater joy than watching your children accomplish their goals. As a former teacher, principal, and guidance counselor, I know how much I valued the support that parents, grandparents, and guardians offered my students at home.

Parental participation is a key factor in predicting student academic success. In fact, it is twice as likely to predict academic success as other factors, including socioeconomic status. The earlier we get involved in our children’s lives, the more likely our actions will make a greater impact.

That is why districts across the state are encouraging active school parents to mentor peers, sharing involvement skills and activities. Several school districts have opened parental assistance centers, forging seamless transitions between parents and the services they need for their children. This direct source of information is especially important for parents of exceptional education students and those falling behind traditional milestones.

Later this month, I will be meeting with a group of parents from various backgrounds to discuss how they remain involved and engaged in their children’s lives and in their education. Sharing their best practices is part of what we are doing at the Department of Education to recognize the importance of parental involvement.

Together, teachers and parents, districts and communities, can help ensure that Florida students have the support they need to succeed.

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2 thoughts on “November is Parental Involvement Month

  1. Dear Commissioner of Education: Ms. Pam Stewart,

    I just wanted to share with you about my daughter, Ashley Middleton, her exceptionalities are IND and Language Impaired. For ALWAYS, I never heard her thoughts. This video is one example of her progress.

    I chose this video to send to you because we were working on a project. I wanted Ashley to tell the world that she understood and by using her output device, we were able to see that she clearly knew what I was asking her.

    As she was working on her project, I asked what she was doing. She told me she was able to express that she was “carving a pumpkin.” I asked her what holiday was pumpkins and she told me it was Halloween. I then asked her what was her favorite holiday. I was expecting her to say Christmas, but in return she said Mother’s Day. It made me feel very special because, as I was trying to have the world hear her voice, she wanted the world to know how much she loved me and about our special relationship.

    It is amazing how far Ashley has come and I OWE it to Lake Hills School in Howey in the Hills. This school serves the most severe students in the county. Lake Hills School Staff truly believe that each student can do anything because they believe in the students’ abilities and they do not focus on their students’ disabilities.

    Riding a bike has been one of Ashley’s Independent Functioning goals on her IEP and never in a million years did I think this would happen but as a mom we hope and pray. As a family we bought bikes and used Velcro around the feet and pillows and even a rope to help pull her along but nothing ever worked. The school tried several adaptive bikes through the years but Ashley’s cognitive skills definitely impeded this success. The team never gave up on this and by providing related services and praise ,encouragement, and collecting base line data they created a goal with little baby steps for Ashley to achieved. BY 2012 all the hard work once again from Ashley’s team another victory happened and another goal was mastered. You have to realize Ashley was not even suppose to walk according to a doctor but having surgery and therapy she reach her success. Watch this video of my daughter and you will be amazed how the PT and the OT have been working so hard with her and now she rides a bike. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcwZfLlENHw&feature=plcp .

    We are now trying to purchase one for her at home but they are expensive and the insurance companies are saying no but I am working on it and it is my goal to ensure I get this bike for Ashley.

    I am also the Head IEP Coach for Central Florida Parent Center, one of Florida’s PTIs which covers Central and NE Florida. I cover 30 counties in all under the AWARE Project, so as you know I sit in a lot of IEP meetings and educate parents who are in crisis with their child. I am a national speaker and I always speak of my daughters success to encourage families to be informed and exercise their rights and responsibilities under IDEA,504,ADA in a collaborative but effective manner.

    I know this story and this video is very special because of my position with CFPC. The success my Ashley has received is because of collaboration, our partnership for Ashley to succeed and receive FAPE as it is intended under IDEA.

    I have learned a lot of lessons being Ashley’s mom from the staff at Lake Hills. The Staff have helped my Ashley beyond her IEP Goals and everyday lessons!

    They were there when my daughter had extreme behaviors – she would not eat with utensils, refused to use the potty, did not participate in non-preferred activities, inappropriately touched people and their belongs, would not remain on task not even for a minute – just to name a few.

    People who know Ashley now cannot even imagine Ashley could ever do those things up above, but she did and I am proud to tell the world of the long way that she has come. Ashley has come so far because of the staff at Lake Hills School. They always had a mission or a second plan. They provided support and then extra supports when we needed more.

    They coached me along. For example, after school for many years, I took Ashley to outside therapies, I would buy educational products and work with Ashley every second of the day. Until one day when Ashley was around five years old, I will remember this IEP meeting till the end of time. I shared with the team all of the work that Ashley and I were doing in all areas because I was proud of my tools that I created or purchased to work with Ashley or the reporting system I had going for Ashley. I wanted the Team to see how I was an “active parent” and on top of it, I thought for sure those team members would know I was “best mom.” In return, the team said “Anna you need to be Ashley’s mom — love, play, have fun, and enjoy each other. We will teach her, and you can be mom and just love her and praise her.” I remember saying “but I need to” and the LEA said “what, you need to WORK with Ashley?” Right then I understood what they meant because I spent so many hours trying to fix Ashley, there was never a break for Ashley to just be my daughter and just be a kid and have fun with her mom. I got it!!!!!!! Lesson learned, and no hard feelings.

    They were so right! It helped Ashley’s and my relationship tremendously and we began to bond into a mother and daughter relationship rather than a teacher and student.

    I am so proud when I can hear Ashley’s thoughts and today was so magical, I needed to share this with you! Lake county Florida takes pride in the Exceptional Student Education Program and I wanted you to know that from The Dr. Susan Moxley, school Superintendent for Lake county and Mrs. Judy Miller ESE Director, and Ashley’s Principal Mrs. Robin Meyers to her Teacher, Mrs. Liz Muruaga , Certified Behavior Analyst Maureen Reinhardt, Language Pathologist Janine Vigrass, Mr. Muensterman OT, Kim Holden PT, Mrs. Mary Adamson and Jeff ,The AT GURU for our children with no or very little spoken language, and to all the previous special educators and service personnel who have touched us and supported Ashley in so many ways, a HUGE THANK YOU!!!

    Lake Hills Rocks and I hope that you will take the time out of your day to personally say thank you and great work to the staff at Lake Hills and all above.

    Lake Hills staff and students performs a holiday program for all of lake county to come and watch these children, young adults, adults perform a Magical Holiday event. All of us meaning parents, tax payers, and of course the students may of never had a platform like to show their Strengths, this it is truly inspirational and many leave with smiles and heartfelt memories. It would be wonderful if you could attend and thank Lake County Schools for their work of excellence and for truly understanding the principles of IDEA.

    If you are willing to attend the performance please contact Lake Hills school principal directly =)

    Will all MY heart and Soul
    Ashley Middleton’s Mom,
    Anna C. Brynild

  2. For parents looking for more information on the PERT test, it’s frustrating. I have found this site – a lot of great information http://www.perttest.com/ Are there any others? Perhaps an article about the test would be helpful for Florida parents.

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