- Find A Mentor
- Our Work
- Our Resources
- Online Training
Building Relationships Beyond County Lines
Posted on March 11, 2016, by GAPMP
The second annual Valentine Dance for Exceptional Students, held this year in Baker County, attracted over 150 students. This event is a collaboration of the parent mentors in Mitchell, (Shirley Daniels) Pelham City, (Felisha Draggs) and Baker County, (Tracy Barber) schools.
This trio of mentors have formed an informal regional approach to family engagement that stems from an awareness about the barriers parents of students with disabilities face when they attempt to engage their kids in school activities; the need for students with disabilities to have a structured approach to learning social skills; and a chance to get to know other people and expand their social circle. Simply put, “The parent mentors work together in the community, If it’s a vision that I have I bring it to Mrs. Shirley and Tracy and we go forth with it,” said Felisha Draggs.
“As I was looking at our kids I became concerned because they haven’t been exposed to a lot of experiences as their same age peers do. So I thought of having a dance for ours students with disabilities so that can learn how to communicate with others kids that they don’t go to school with. Students with disabilities don’t have many events where they can wear nice clothes and take pictures.”
“Having the chance to meet other kids that are just like them lets them know that they are not alone. You can’t imagine how great it felt to watch the students build relationships with other students from different districts. You can’t imagine how great it felt to watch the students build relationships with other students from different schools,” said Draggs.
“Transportation is a big issue in this area and there are not a lot of events that take place for students with disabilities. So, we parent mentors decided to use this opportunity to build relationships among students with diverse disabilities and backgrounds.”
“In addition, students from Mitchell, Pelham City and Baker tend to move from one county to the next. Transition from one area to the next is always difficult but especially for students with disabilities. With that in mind, we felt that having Spec Ed. Teachers, students, and other staff under one roof would also ease some discomfort during those times as well. In other words, the likelihood of a student seeing someone that they know would highly possible,” said Tracy Barber.
“My perspective is also the same as my fellow parent mentors. But I can say that communication was a important component for Mitchell County, because making the decision about students with disabilities having an event designed to practice social skills and create an opportunity to family, friends and school staff to come together will build a foundation for better family engagement practices not just in Mitchell County, but regionally as well,” said Shirley Daniels.
“These relationships will last a lifetime, as Felisha, Tracy and I continue to keep the engagement going with other collaborative events. We are already planning on next year’s event which will be hosted in Mitchell County, said, Shirley Daniels.