On October 1, 2013 in Concord, the NH Department of Education and PIC cosponsored the fifth annual Parent Involvement in Education Awards. This event celebrated the efforts of educators, parents, and family-school partnership teams from around the state that displayed creativity, innovation, and/or commitment at the community, school, district, or state level. Our very own DFSA was honored as a Parent Involvement in Education Awardee and noted for its accomplishments in the areas of communicating effectively, welcoming all families, and collaborating as a community. Not bad for a group that was founded just a year ago.
This award is an honor and much appreciated by all of us involved with the DFSA. As a parent, however, what struck me most is that – finally – the importance of collaboration between schools and parents is being recognized and celebrated. We all know that navigating the diverse world of special education and IEPs isn’t easy. For every child identified with a special need, there are parents and a team of educators, each with his or her own challenges, priorities, and perspectives. With so many dynamics at play, it stands to reason that clear, frequent, and transparent communication is essential. And, while we all know this to be true, the reality is that genuine collaboration isn’t always as easy as it seems. George Bernard Shaw must have been talking about IEP meetings when he said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Parents and teachers may believe that they’re on the same page, but until something goes wrong (at the detriment of our kids) these misunderstandings are often never realized.
The simplest solution is often the one right in front of us, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to execute. We know that constructive collaboration amongst the people involved in the education and well-being of any child, but one with special needs in particular, is essential. Actually initiating that change is the real challenge, but when it happens, it benefits everyone. So, to those of you who go the extra mile and work to foster true collaboration between schools and parents, THANK YOU. This award is every bit as much for you as it is for us, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in the years to come!