February 2021 Issue
SPAN Parent Leadership E-News
Dear Parent Leaders,

This quarterly newsletter is designed to empower, engage, and support individuals like you who passionately represent the needs and perspectives of all parents. Parent leaders become role models for family engagement, advocating not only on behalf of their own children, but for ALL children!

Developing new leadership skills, knowledge, confidence, and thus a leadership identity is a constant process. It happens naturally every day, often without us noticing or acknowledging it. Seeking out new learning opportunities, sharing information and resources, connecting with others, and engaging in activities that matter deeply to us also contribute to our leadership change and renewal.

Supporting renewal and growth that strengthens our parent leadership commitment also models transformation for other leaders. When families are actively involved in parent groups and organizations, schools and communities, and other activities that support their leadership development, they deepen their sense of purpose. In addition, they reframe the discussion around parents as advisors, decision-makers, and leaders. They re-engage, challenge assumptions, and facilitate opportunities to shift the mindset and create change that matters!

~ In partnership, START-Engaging Parents of Students with Disabilities in Schools (START-EPSD) Project Team
Your Leadership Toolbox
Quick Guide "Developing Your Parent Leadership Skills and Knowledge"
Parents of children with disabilities do not need to have a college degree or work experience in the education field to be involved in school improvement efforts or to provide input on special education matters impacting their children. To build confidence and abilities to effectively advocate for change, parents need to be actively involved in groups and activities that support their parent leadership skills and knowledge. Here are some suggestions. 

Here are some suggestions. Download this quick guide in English and Spanish
Eleven Quick Guides released to date are available in English and Spanish. To view and download them ALL, go to spanadvocacy.org/programs/start/groups/

Do you have a suggestion for a topic for the next Quick Guide?
Please drop us a line! Email your suggestions to Tatsiana DaGrosa, START-EPSD Project Co-Director, at tdagrosa@spanadvocacy.org
Parent Group Highlights
Montgomery Township Special Education Parent Advisory Group - (M-SEPAG)
“Educational Excellence”
Montgomery Township School District (MTSD) lies within a Somerset County community that aspires towards excellence and inclusion for every student. The MTSD’s “Portrait of a Graduate” is not representative of any single pathway to success. All students in Montgomery Township deserve the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential, including students with specialized educational support needs. Success is defined as the outcome(s) most appropriate for each individual student to achieve “Educational Excellence.”

The Montgomery Special Education Parent Advisory Group (M-SEPAG) ensures that special education students and their parents have the opportunity to provide direct input to the school district regarding policies, services, and practices that impact students with disabilities and their families.
The M-SEPAG was formed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in partnership with Kristen Taylor, Director of Special Services, they are making great strides to effectively collaborate with each other. The M-SEPAG is utilizing the guidance and best practices outlined in the Special Education Parent Advisory Groups in NJ: A Guide to Developing and Conducting an Effective Group to assist parents and professionals interested in starting and running an effective group. Montgomery Township also is home to an established and active Special Education Parent-Teacher Association (MSEPTA).

This parent group plays a significant role in the district for both teachers and parents whose children receive special education supports and services. MSEPTA has embraced the work of the M-SEPAG, and these collaborative partners stand together in their very different, but important, roles each group plays in the district. 

The very teamwork and collaboration that are at the core of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are reflective in the engagement of parents, community leaders, and school district staff in Montgomery Township. Collaborative teamwork is setting the tone for meaningful parental input to the school district with the opportunity for system-level and community change.

For more information about the M-SEPAG, please contact montysepag@gmail.com

We Want to Hear from You:
Share Your Group's Story
How is your SEPAG or parent group using best practices in building and supporting strong family engagement in your school community?

Share your group's story with us for a chance to be highlighted in the next issue of the SPAN Parent Leadership E-news coming in May 2021!

Email your group's story to Tatsiana DaGrosa, START-EPSD Project Co-Director, at tdagrosa@spanadvocacy.org
Frequently Requested Samples of
Key SEPAG Materials
Essential Items to Include in SEPAG Bylaws I English: DOC | Elementos esenciales a incluir en los estatutos del SEPAG I Español: DOC

SEPAG Brochure I English: DOC I  Modelo de folleto de SEPAG I Español: DOC

SEPAG Letter of Introduction I English: DOC I  Ejemplo de carta de introducción del SEPAG I Español: DOC

SEPAG Chairperson Job Description I English: DOC I  Modelo de descripción de funciones del presidente del SEPAG I Español: DOC

SEPAG Member Job Description I English: DOC I  Modelo de descripción de funciones de los miembros del SEPAG I Español: DOC

SEPAG Membership Grid I English: DOC I  Ejemplo de cuadrícula de membresía de SEPAG I Español: DOC

Public Comment Form and Guidelines I English: DOC I  Modelo de formulario de comentarios públicos y directrices I Español: DOC

SEPAG Report Format to the School Board I English: DOC I
Modelo de formatos de informes del SEPAG a la junta escolar I Español: DOC
SPAN's Virtual Learning Opportunities and Resource Collections
Can't have an in-person training due to COVID-19 pandemic?

No problem! Subscribe to SPAN YouTube Channel and view our virtual library of recordings for information on special and general education, health advocacy, parent leadership, public policy, and much more.
Browse our newly updated resource collections for articles, briefs, fact sheets, checklists, short videos, webinars, and training materials.

Inclusion Resource Collection - Here you will find resources on benefits of inclusion, inclusion in education, strategies and tips for families, and inclusion webinars.

Literacy Resource Collection - Here you will find materials on supporting literacy achievement in the classroom, activities to promote literacy at home and in your school/district, as well as literacy webinars.

NJTSS Resource Collection - Here you will find basic information on multi-tiered systems of support, NJTSS framework and its components, practical strategies and tips for families and parents, as well as NJTSS webinars.
We Want to Hear From You!
The START-EPSD Project wants to hear your suggestions, comments, ideas, or requests for how we could better support your leadership growth and meet your SEPAG’s needs this year! Please take a brief survey here.

We value your feedback! 

Questions? Contact Tatsiana DaGrosa, START-EPSD Project Co-Director, at tdagrosa@spanadvocacy.org
SPAN Parent Advocacy Network - Our Vision is that all families will have the resources and support they need to ensure that their children become fully participating and contributing members of our communities and society. Our Mission is to empower and support families and inform and involve professionals interested in the healthy development and education of children and youth. Our foremost commitment is to children and families with the greatest need due to disability or special health/mental health needs; poverty; discrimination based on race, sex, language, immigrant or homeless status; involvement in the foster care, child welfare, or juvenile justice systems; geographic location; or other special circumstances. Our Motto is, "Empowered Parents: Educated, Engaged, Effective!"
SPAN Parent Advocacy Network | 35 Halsey Street, Newark, NJ | 1-800-654-SPAN