You Gotta Have Heart
Posted on February 7, 2014, by GAPMP
By Anne Ladd
At Christmas time I received a heart pendant necklace. When I wear it, it reminds of the Parent Mentor Partnership and the heart that drives the work the mentors do- the heart of a parent. The symmetry of the heart is pleasing and happy and it represents that which is at our core- the beat of life.
Sometimes our own heart races from fear or excitement, feels broken from disappointment, burns from indigestion, but the best feeling is the one you get from sheer joy- the feeling that your heart is going to jump right out of your body. Any parent certainly knows that feeling.
Imagine when that heart actually drives the work that you do and when the role of parent is actually a job requirement. That describes the parent mentors who make up the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership, an initiative of the Georgia Department of Education, Division for Special Education.
Nearly 100 parent mentors represent 92 Georgia school districts and while the districts range from very small to extremely large, rural, suburban and urban there is one thing that their mentors have in common- they are all motivated by their heart to do the work they do. Parent mentors are parents of children with disabilities who choose to share their acquired knowledge, strategies and listening skills with other parents of children with disabilities.
Most of these mentors are familiar with heartbreak but see the joy in simple progress; understand fear but celebrate the excitement of reaching every goal; and every rough day at work is justified by that one very good day at work when a parent in their district feels a little more at ease, empowered, engaged, or enlightened of the possibility for their child to experience a full life. On that day the parent mentors feel sheer joy- the feeling that their heart is going to jump right out of their body.
Anne Ladd is Family Engagement Specialist with the Ga. Department of Education Division of Special Education and leads the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership.