District Parents SEPAC Meets First Time Oct 8 at 7 PM at MHS

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Metuchen parents of students with learning challenges are coming together as advocates for their children. The Special Education Parent Advisory Council is a forum for parents to exchange ideas, collaborate with special education professionals, and help their children reach their full potential. The first meeting of this school year is scheduled for Oct. 8, 7 p.m., in the Metuchen High School library.

The Metuchen SEPAC includes parents with children from preschool to high school who are enrolled in the district and have identified learning disabilities. Diverse and enthusiastic, the parents have discussed ways to help children with challenges ranging from dyslexia to autism, ADHD to physical concerns. All 345 families in the district with classified children have been notified by email about the monthly meetings, which generally are held on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

"Raising a child with learning disabilities is daunting and can be isolating," says co- president Courtney Delia, parent of a child at Campbell Elementary School. "We are a supportive, committed group of parents who are excited to work closely with the district to ensure success for our children."

Delia and co-president Michelle Rosenfield, a high school parent, see two distinct goals for the group: "One is to provide a conduit for parents to learn about resources available to them, whether they be within the district or external to it. The other is to give parents, who often face challenges above and beyond those of normal parenthood, a place to connect with other parents, share their stories, and learn from one another." Heartened by the group's promise, Delia and Rosenfield welcome all parents to join them in the thought-provoking meetings. Parents of children who attend school out of district are particularly encouraged to attend.


The group had three organizational meetings and sponsored two guest panels in the past school year: one, in February, on self-advocacy featuring ADHD and parenting specialist Cindy Goldrich of Long Island; and an April 30 seminar with specialists from Metuchen's elementary, middle, and high schools talking about the supports they provide children as they transition from one school to the next, and beyond to college or other post-secondary plans. Future meetings may include a panel of young Metuchen alumni who were classified students and have been successful in college or other post-secondary endeavors.

Tara Matise, Metuchen Board of Education member and herself a parent of a child with dyslexia, says she "has been impressed by the number of parents attending and their level of enthusiasm and participation. The meetings have been very informative."

Bob Capra, director of special services, and Sarah Karger, a special education teacher at the high school, serve as faculty advisers to the group. Says Ms. Karger: "The parents in Metuchen are incredibly talented and passionate about ensuring that the Special Education Parental Advisory Council supports all Metuchen students with special needs."

Officers for 2015-2016 are: Co-presidents Delia and Rosenfield; Anne Newman (high school liaison); Lisa Keenan (Edgar liaison); Madeline Gorsso (Campbell liaison); Jason Delia (Webmaster and communications); the treasurer is yet to be determined; and a rotating group of people will serve as recording secretary.

The newly created Metuchen SEPAC website, metuchensepac.org, will serve as a crossroads where parents can get information and find out about upcoming events or meetings. Parents also connect on a private Facebook page. Anyone interested in becoming involved with SEPAC or looking for more information can send an email to info@metuchensepac.org.

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