Dallas County, Selma City schools host workshop

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Times-Journal

Dallas County and Selma City schools joined forces to host a workshop for parents of special needs children on Tuesday at Pickard Auditorium.

The official title of the workshop was “Workable Educational Strategies for Children with Disabilities.” Dallas County Special Education Coordinator Felicia King-Thomas and Selma City Special Education Coordinator Melvia Holmes were both on hand to introduce Gloria Howard of Montgomery Public Schools, the workshop’s key speaker.

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“I want everyone to leave here with something that will be beneficial to you and your child,” Howard said to the small audience of parents and educators. Howard said the objective of the workshop was to enable parents to “identify workable educational strategies that may be used to increase their involvement in their child’s education.”

The workshop also served as an opportunity to allow parents to ask questions or make comments regarding their child’s progress.

“We have very vocal parents and that’s what we want,” King-Thomas said.

Thick informational packets were distributed to educators and parents outlining what they can do to lead their children to success. But before the packets were reviewed, Howard asked parents and educators to participate in an ice breaker activity by sharing their children’s strengths. Audience members were quick to praise their child’s eagerness to learn, artistic skills and sheer determination to achieve.

Howard said the first step in assisting a child with special needs is acknowledging a child’s strengths and working to improve them. Weaknesses should be addressed too, which Howard said could trigger frustration and panic in parents.

“A lot of times parents blame themselves,” she said. “You have to realize there is a need and move forward to address that need. In order to make it work, you have to be realistic.”

Once strengths and weaknesses are addressed, Howard said parents should schedule a parent-teacher conference, establish a concrete homework time after school and build positive self-esteem.

“If you constantly praise your child, they will strive to do better,” she said.

Tuesday’s workshop is the first of two disability workshops the school systems will host during the 2006-2007 academic year, Holmes said. Howard said the execution of these workshops “says to me we want to make a difference.”