On October 24th, the PTA Council Special Education Committee, in collaboration with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and the Special Education District Advisory Committee, presented “Strategies for Successful Learning for all Students,” the third forum in an ongoing series designed to help parents of children with special educational needs enrolled in both general education and special education classrooms.
Approximately 150 people, including parents, educators and SMMUSD board members, attended the event which was held at John Adams Middle School. Keynote speakers, Dr. Doug Fisher and Dr. Nancy Frey, university professors, researchers, well-known authors and co-directors of the California State University’s Center for the Advancement of Reading, gave a fascinating presentation to parents, and later to teachers, about how the brain functions while learning to read.
After the keynote presentation, parents gathered in breakout groups, led by Special Education Coordinators Francis Costanzo, Bekah Dannelly, Darci Keleher, Kenneth Mitchell, Dr. Brian Murray and Nicole Taccariello, who presented on the topics of math, reading and writing, behavior and intensive services. Parents were encouraged to ask questions and contribute personal insight during these sessions.
Attendees then reconvened to hear Dr. Sara Woolverton, Director of Special Education, explain what parents can do if they feel their children need special educational help. She described the processes involved in Student Success Teams (SSTs), 504 Plans and IEPs.
The updated, 2009 edition of the Special Education Handbook, created by parents for parents, was presented and given to attendees. The Handbook, printed in English and Spanish, is an informative guide for parents with children with special needs in our school district. The Handbook is posted on the SMMUSD.org website. Copies or a CD of the Handbook can be obtained by contacting school psychologists or the SMMUSD Special Education department.