The first session of Special Education Foundation’s 2014 Fred Saigh Parent Leadership Institute met Saturday, September 6. Kathie Snow, author of Disability is Natural, is always the first speaker for the eight-year-old program. Her “revolutionary common sense for raising children with disabilities” led parents to tell us what they learned:

  • not to be a helicopter mom
  • allow my son to have more responsibility
  • look at my daughter as a person; not her disability
  • give my sons an allowance to learn about money
  • teach my son how to advocate for himself
  • make sure my child has assistive technology

Three powerful, life-changing Saturdays in the Fall comprise the Fred Saigh Parent Leadership Institute. Parents develop a vision for the future of their child. They gain knowledge to help them participate effectively in their child’s education and leadership skills to improve the educational climate for all children.
Parents report:
“Without Parent Leadership Institute we would still be desperately looking for the system to ‘fix’ my child instead of understanding that my child doesn’t need ‘fixed’ – he just needs to be allowed to be himself. PLI made me realize that normal, everyday activities with everyday peers are what will really make a difference for my child.”

“I have a newly expanded network of knowledgeable and supportive parents and friends on whom I can call with any kind of SSD/special education related question.”

Parents go on from this program to participate in SSD and partner district parent advisory councils, lead awareness programs in their schools, become mentors to other parents and even become Board of Education members.
Although our Parent Education & Diversity Awareness program puts on more than 60 workshops a year and touches more than 2500 parents and staff, we think the Fred Saigh Parent Leadership Institute is the most important event we do every year!
by Joann E. Noll, M.Ed., Administrator, Parent Education & Diversity Awareness, Special School District of St. Louis County
Joann’s partners in putting on the program are Michelle Levi Perez and LaTrisa Morgan.