Photo by Rome City Schools
One Elm Street Elementary School teacher is using her educational training, as well as at-home experience to make Rome City Schools an advocate for students with disabilities.
Jessi Presley is a Special Education teacher at Elm Street Elementary who, on May 9, 2019 at the State Board of Education meeting, was appointed as a member of the State Advisory Panel (SAP) for Special Education.
Presley will serve as a parent of a child with disabilities on the panel and will work alongside educators, superintendents, university professors, state agency representatives, individuals with disabilities and advocacy group representatives who have been handpicked across the state.
“I am beyond excited to be appointed to the SAP. To be able to advocate for children with disabilities and their unique needs is truly an honor and privilege,” Presley said. “I have always considered myself to be an advocate for all children, but this role will allow me to do so at a higher level to impact more children.”
Not only does Presley spend time educating special needs students at Elm Street, but she is also the mother of Jules Presley (student at AKD) who is also a special needs pupil.
“Knowing that I can use my experiences as a teacher and a mom to help make a difference for other children is a dream come true. I really want to use our journey through life as a special needs family to be a voice for other children whose parents or caregivers may not be able to do so for one reason or another,” she said.
As a member of the State Advisory Panel for Special Education, Presley’s primary responsibilities will be:
• Advising GaDOE on the unmet needs within the State in the education of children with disabilities.
• Commenting publicly on any rules and regulations proposed by the State regarding the education of students with disabilities.
• Advising GaDOE on developing evaluations and reports on data to the Federal Secretary of Education and the Office of Special Education Program.
• Advising GaDOE in developing corrective action plans to address findings identified in federal
monitoring reports under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B.
• Reviewing and comment on completed due process hearing findings.
• Serving as a stakeholder committee member outlined in the Georgia Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process.
“As a member of this panel, I will be collaborating with other stakeholders from across the State of Georgia to provide guidance to the Department of Education and other divisions to address the needs of students with disabilities as related to their education,” Presley explained. “The panel addresses many issues as they arise, and we will provide feedback and input on rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and plans to improve learning outcomes for our special needs population.”According to Presley, being a member of the board will also allow her to review data to help develop activities and target areas to monitor them, again, all with the goal of improving outcomes and opportunities. “My hope is that I am able to advocate for greater awareness about early intervention and children who are younger than school age, because that has played such a crucial role in my own daughter’s growth and development,” she said.
“As a mom of a child with special needs, I have a unique perspective that has changed the way I think about educating students and interacting with their families. The advantage of also being an educator for 13 years is that I have had a lot of varied experiences, both with general education and special education students,” said Presley.
“Being both a mom and an educator will hopefully allow me to have insight into upcoming changes in the world of special education that can be relayed to our own special education department in Rome City Schools. I can be a voice for the unmet needs that our students may have or challenges that families and teachers face in trying to advocate for the best education for their children,” she continued. “Being able to network with other stakeholders from across the state of Georgia will allow me to bring new ideas back to RCS to improve education for our students with disabilities.”
To learn more about the State Advisory Panel (SAP) for Special Education, visit their website at: https://www.gadoe.org/…/Pag…/State-Advisory-Panel-(SAP).aspx