Clarkson: When school starts, parents have a chance to learn too

Sara Clarkson
Sara Clarkson

A strong sense of community — of people working towards some greater good — is one of the reasons our family settled in this school district, and while I have no way of knowing the outcome of the high school teacher and school district negotiations as I write, I do want to highlight two positive groups that serve the high school and the towns it serves.

One is a smallish but active committee of the larger Hinsdale Central PTO called the HC Parent Network, a group starting its sixth year having been founded five years ago by Sally Parsons and Mary Buddig. Its mission is to help parents gain insight into the high school’s special education system, to help special education and learning disabled students get the most out of their high school experience and to share information, resources and ideas with other parents of students who have individualized education plans.

Special Support: Parent Prep Night is the topic of the Parent Network’s first program of the year from 7-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 19. A week later, from 5:30-9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28 during the Hinsdale Central Meet the Teacher Night, the group will host its second annual Tutor Expo, which was wildly successful last year, according to Audrey Galvin, who co-chairs the Parent Network with Kathy Gartlan. Some tutors will be there at the expo, others will be listed on fliers. All 1,000 fliers were snatched up in two hours last year.

The Tuesday, Oct. 8 program should appeal to a wide variety of people as the topic is executive functioning — the management of cognitive processes, including planning, organizing, task flexibility, problem solving and reasoning to name just a few — with neuropsychologist Dr. Roger Stefani as the featured speaker.

Other topics being planned for the year include an evening with District 86’s new assistant superintendent of special education, a presentation by Infinitec on special assistance technologies, individual education plan transition from middle school to high school, standardized test prep for students with learning disabilities and a college panel.

Galvin said between 35 and 80 people attend the Parent Network programs, and what she finds most gratifying is that parents have an opportunity to talk to and share with one another. For more information visit www.hcparentnetwork.org, which many parents will find to be a useful site with other topics such as homework help.

The Hinsdale Central PTO is another great parenting resource. I have regularly attended the Conversations with the Principal programs over the past few years because they have offered relevant information and guidance to parents of teens. Past topics have covered the driving laws, the “real” availability of drugs and alcohol, the developing teen brain and how it influences decision making for example. In the coming school year, among some of those topics are keeping your teen mentally strong, cultivating healthy relationships whether in dating and friendships, cultivating your child’s altruistic side and getting him or her involved in service work and keeping your child safe and healthy by teaching him or her to leave the party. These mornings are held on the third Monday of the month, starting on Monday, Sept. 15. For more information, visit www.hinsdalecentralpto.org.

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