I am an independent educational consultant and as a private professional, I work for parents seeking appropriate educational services for their children, whether through a 504 or through an IEP.
I have 26 years of experience as an educator, from classroom teaching to school level administration and ending as a district level Special Education Director. As an advocate, I understand both sides of the process: the financial and human capital constraints on schools, and that parents will do anything to help their children succeed in school and in life. Both parents and schools want what is best for children, but they may not agree as to how to go about doing what’s best.
As a former teacher, I see the challenges that teachers face. Teaching is demanding and often thankless. I have also sat on the other side of the school conference table as a parent, and even with all my knowledge, I sometimes feel lost. I go into those meetings with my “Mom” had on, and I often let my emotions get involved rather than looking at the process from an educational standpoint. Having someone with me at these meetings helped me keep to the focus of the meeting.
When parents and schools meet to discuss a child with special needs, the law guides us. Federal laws and regulations provide a framework for addressing the needs of special education students. As parents, we want every available opportunity afforded to our children. As educators, we know that we are only human, which is why together, the team decides the best approach to educate the child.
I have worked with many families of students with special needs. Every time I think I have seen it all, I am surprised by what education has wrought, both beautiful and heartbreaking. I’ve been in meetings where teachers treat parents with little regard for respect or dignity. I’ve also seen a principal who will ride a bus route to ensure one child’s safety. I’ve seen recordings of children being illegally restrained. I’ve also seen a paraprofessional who never misses a day of school because the child to whom she’s been assigned is lost without her.
Education needs more of the beautiful and less of the heartbreaking. I believe that if we work together for the betterment of all children, we will have that.
I’d be honored to help you form a partnership with you and your school’s team to help your child have the best educational outcome available to him or her.
Kira Willis, EdS