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Sat, Dec. 14

Taylor Hicks hosts first-ever special education open house

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<p>
Taylor Hicks special education teachers introduce themselves Thursday night during the special education open house for parents and students at Taylor Hicks Elementary in Prescott.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<p> Taylor Hicks special education teachers introduce themselves Thursday night during the special education open house for parents and students at Taylor Hicks Elementary in Prescott.

Theresa William was close to tears Thursday evening while attending an open house at Taylor Hicks Elementary School in Prescott.

Williams explained that her daughter and now her grandson attended special education classes.

"Not once in all the time my daughter was in school, 12 years in a great school district, or until now with my grandson, have I ever attended a meeting like this," Williams said.

The grandmother was among about 35 parents attending a special education open house at Taylor Hicks, the first of its kind in the Prescott School District.

"This is the first time I have attended a meeting just to introduce us to the teachers. This is the first time someone has done something to make us feel like a part of the school," Williams said. "This is wonderful."

Taylor Hicks Principal Brian Moore said the idea for the special education open house came from a parent is September 2008. The parent suggested an open house for special services where parents could meet the people working with their children.

Members of Development Education and Research (DEAR) helped Moore organize the open house and were on-hand to provide support to parents.

DEAR promotes lifetime success through special needs education.

The majority of the special education teachers and staff members attended the open house, with only a few having a schedule conflict. In addition, four PUSD Governing Board members and Superintendent Kevin Kapp attended the event.

The common bonds that brought them together are children - teaching them, parenting them, or working on their behalf on the governing board.

As teachers and parents shook hands and talked, it was easy to see that this was an idea whose time had come.

John Mackin, who has a son with special needs, said the evening was "great. It is definitely very true that most parents of kids with special needs find it kind of overwhelming. They go with the flow, not knowing what they could do better. This open house lets them get to know people who can help them."

Taylor Hicks special education para-professional Becky Terry said the evening was "wonderful. I got to meet moms and dads."

Kristi Spengler is the K-2 Building Essential Skills and Techniques (B.E.S.T.) teacher. She hopes more parents will attend the next special education open house.

B.E.S.T is a self-contained program for students in preschool through 12th grade requiring more intensive instruction in small group environments.

Spengler said it is important for parents to put a face with the name early in the school year since an official first meeting might not happen until April.

"The whole purpose was to get to know each other," Moore said. "When we meet officially, we are a team, and it is good to know the members of the team."

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