Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Parents & Teachers as Allies

What a novel idea! And this is the way it should be. What if teachers and parents of children with special needs actually worked together for the benefit of the student???

Once a month the Family Involvement Team (formerly known as the Parent Council) of the Family CARE Project of McHenry County meets at the McHenry County Mental Health Board, 620 Dakota Street in Crystal Lake. This is a parent-led group for parents of children with a mental health diagnosis.

The speakers this evening drove from Wheaton to present a new NAMI program called Parents & Teachers as Allies. What's NAMI? National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Pat Doyle, Education Program Director of NAMI-DuPage, and her colleague, Brenda (whose last name, unfortunately, I did not write down), presented an excellent new program that is designed to help teachers better understand mental illness and the classroom experience with, and of, students with mental illness.

Not that they don't have the experience" with it; they do. What may be lacking in many schools is the understanding of the experience. A two-hour in-service has been designed for teachers and staff of schools, and a shortened version is designed for classroom presentation and other settings, such as workplace, church groups, service groups and any other setting where people gather.

The NAMI-DuPage team started with three people and has grown to more than 40. They present about 300 programs in a year and use a set of first-class materials.

For more information about this or the Family Involvement Team, send an email to and I'll help you contact the right people.

The Family Involvement Team meets on the second Wednesday of each month at the Mental Health Board. Arrive at 6:00PM, enjoy a light supper (no charge) and learn during the program from 6:30-8:00PM. Reservations are not required, but it is helpful if you will email Michelle at to let her know you will attend, so that an adequate amount of food can be on hand.

The April 8th meeting will feature Educational Advocacy, and the speaker will be Dawn Melchiorre, Senior Policy Director, Voices 4 Kids - Illinois. Learn how to advocate for legislative change to positively affect the future for our children.

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