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The Ultimate Parent Teacher Conference 2023

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The inaugural "Ultimate Parent Teacher Conference" held in DeSoto, TX on April 8, 2023 was a great success. The partnership between The Learning Paradigm, DeSoto Parks and Recreation Department, Jargon Group Speech and Educational Therapy Clinic, and The DeSoto ISD Special Education Department brought together Educators, Healthcare Professionals, Parents, and Local Community Leaders to address a key issue in our community, which is ensuring that our children with different abilities are equipped with the necessary tools and resources needed for them to succeed not only in schools, but in the communities they live in.

 

The planning team included Tiffany Daniels Spivey, Founder and President of The Learning Paradigm, Jalisa Jackson-Polk, Executive Director of The Learning Paradigm, Sherlyn Lollis, DeSoto ISD Special Education Coordinator, and Kevin Moore, Program Manager for DeSoto Parks and Recreation Department.

 

Our volunteers included dedicated friends of The Learning Paradigm. We can't thank them enough: Kimberlea Shavers, Brandii Taper, Aulston Bradshaw, Sharon Bradshaw-Washington and our teen volunteers Kennedy and Mya Jackson.

 

“There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests get together to work toward the same goals.”

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Our workshops facilitators provided engaging and interactive activities in their sessions that helped to increase knowledge of what we can do when we work TOGETHER for our children. Workshop topics and presenters included:

 

The Educational Need vs. The Medical Need of Support

Facilitated by: Adanna Burrell, Owner/Speech-Language Pathologist- Speak It Therapy Solutions, PLLC 

 

Support for Families and Teens

Facilitated by: Mariah Griffo, Federal Case Manager and Artistic Expression, Mindfulness and SEL nonprofit owner Visionary Vibes

 

Helping New Parents Understand Diagnosis and Disabilities!

Facilitated by: Brittany Lopez, Professional Educational Therapist, Brighter Futures Educational Therapy

and Evy Leviege, Special Education Teacher and In-home Parent Trainer

 

You Belong Here!

Facilitated by: Alisha Burrell: K-6 Educator, Instructional Coach and Yoga/Social-Emotional Teacher, Founder of Roots to Wellness Nonprofit

 

Please email info@thelearningparadigm.org if you would like the contact information to receive services provided by these amazing educators and healthcare professionals.

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During our power lunch hour, Licensed Professional Counselor, J. Nicole Johnson provided information on the importance of "self-care". She reiterated that if we do not set boundaries and take the time that is needed to rejuvenate ourselves, it makes it difficult to pour into our children. As the founder of J the Therapist, she is available to provide additional support by contacting her at hello@jthetherapist.com.

 

Attorney Chevera Blakemore briefly discussed how it is imperative that families understand the process of guardianship once an individual with different abilities reaches the age of 18. She expressed a great need for us to be better informed about this matter and is available for a free consultation to further discuss the process so that parents do not feel alone in navigating guardianship. Attorney Blakemore can be reached by email at chevera@blakemorelawfirm.com.

It was an honor to have our community leaders engage in dialogue about how to better support our children with different abilities through collaboration and understanding of each other's roles in the schools and communities during our Keynote Conversation. 

 

This important conversation was centered on bringing awareness of what we can do in the community to help parents navigate special needs in and out of the classroom, highlighting activities and programs that the school already have in place to streamline progress, and identifying resources, people, and organizations for support from different perspectives.

 

One of the most powerful lessons we learned from this conversation was a basic call to action to "SHOW UP". Showing up teaches each of us to think outside of ourselves and understand what real sacrifice is. This builds character. Showing up allows us to be present even when it’s emotionally taxing and painful. It builds empathy and resilience. Showing up helps others to trust us and want to be closer as we build real connections.

 

Panelist included:

Moderator: Sherlyn Lollis, DeSoto ISD Special Education Coordinator

Community Hero: Michelle Carter, 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist

Civic Leader: Carl Roberts, Senior Director for Strategic Planning

Parent Advocate/Healthcare Administrator: Julius Hurd, Practice Administrator of Pediatric Group Plano at UT Southwestern

Champion of Education: Dr. Tiffany Clark, DeSoto ISD School Board Trustee Place 4 | Entrepreneur of Akkomplished Experience

Early Childhood Specialist: Rolanda Cotton-Spell, Senior Program Director of Educational First Steps

 

Please email info@thelearningparadigm.org if you would like the contact information for our community leaders.

A very special moment during the conference was awarding Ms. Latorisha Johnson, a Special Education Teacher Assistant with the Trailblazer Award and a check for $500 to use towards purchasing materials for her classroom. What made it even more special was that she was very surprised that she would be receiving such an award. We thank Ms. Johnson for all that she does to advocate for her students and families and for being the support in the classroom that they need and can always count on.

 

It was also a pleasure having the DeSoto ISD Superintendent, Dr. Usamah Rodgers attend on such a busy weekend to show support as well as ensure that we continue this message and mission in future collaborations.

 

With that said, we graciously thank everyone for their support, encouragement, and commitment to our children as we continue to create a community where ability precedes disability allowing every child to play, grow, and thrive.

 

We look forward to April 2024.

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