Pancake breakfast serves-up parent’s guide to special education

On Saturday, March 4, 2017 dozens of families gathered at East Technical High School for a pancake breakfast, but the main course was an informational seminar on special education. The half-day event featured sessions designed to help parents and families get a better understanding of how to support children on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and how to get more academic support for children in school.

Families enjoy breakfast at East Technical High School .
Families enjoy breakfast at East Technical High School .

A partnership between Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Cleveland Transformation Alliance, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and Cuyahoga Community College, the event was designed to raise awareness of the important role parents play in a child’s education and to increase participation in parent-teacher meetings. Research shows that parent involvement in education can predict a child’s academic success. The benefits of parent involvement increase dramatically if a student has learning differences or is on an IEP.

After enjoying a family breakfast, attendees split into groups with adults heading to seminars and children attending drumming and dance classes with the help of City Year Cleveland volunteers.

Timothy Goler, founder and chief executive officer if HBCU Preparatory Schools Network, served as keynote speaker and delivered a passionate, inspirational and personal account of how parental involvement is the most essential factor of a child’s success at school, and often, in life.

“More than anything else in this city, we need conscious, committed, loving parents. Spend quality time with your kids. Don’t just tell them you love them, show them you love them. Give them affection,” Goler said in his address. “Whether you believe it or not, you are the example of success your children will envision. The best way to make our schools stronger is to make our families stronger and more loving. The foundation for school success starts with the family.”

After hearing from Goler, adult attendees chose from a variety of workshops hosted by experts from the CMSD special education department, Cuyahoga Community College Access department and Milestones, an organization dedicated to providing resources to families of children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Children get a lesson on African drumming.
Children get a lesson on African drumming.

Workshops were held on the following topics:

  • Middle school to high school transition: how to prepare and what to expect
  • Choosing a high school that meets the needs of your child
  • High school to college transition: How Tri-C supports children and adults with making the jump to higher education
  • Parenting children with challenging behaviors and building the parent-teacher relationship

“We hope the event is able to eliminate some of the stress and intimidating factors that can often go along with the special education process,” said Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. “It’s really special to see the community, school district and residents rally around this cause and put this event together because ultimately we need educators and parents working together. This event was a true demonstration of the parent-teacher partnership we want to happen.”

The day concluded with giveaways, including 20 Dave’s Supermarket gift cards courtesy of Cleveland Transformation Alliance, one iPad Mini and one Beats by Dre headphones set.

The pancake breakfast was part of a larger initiative by Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance to build better partnerships between schools and families.