I am a DCPS Parent: Ty'ease SetepenRa
Ty'ease SetepenRa talks about her son's classes at Barnard Elementary School and her thoughts on DCPS special education programs.
Ty’ease SetepenRa is a DCPS parent. Her son, Bakari, is in the second grade at Barnard Elementary School. We asked her about her experience with DCPS and its special education programs.
What’s one thing about your child you’d like every one to know about?
It’s really hard to narrow it down. He is such a blessing! I can say that Bakari is really a loving and curious individual. I would like every one to know he has a deep love for the arts, especially music.
He beams with joy when he hears music. I would definitely say he's eclectic. He's known for making his own music and instruments, and he gets thrilled when you dance or sing to his beat.
Regarding his education, I would like every one to know he is mastering his goals and steadily achieving. He works hard and knows when he has accomplished something new. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Bakari has an amazing support system. Family and teachers believe in him, and with the right support system he will continue to thrive and believe in himself.
I am a proud DCPS parent because…
I believe every child has a chance to succeed no matter his or her level of understanding, and if given the right tools, they can succeed. I am just honored to be part of Bakari’s “tool set.”
And by tool set, I mean the proper education and an amazing support system. I am pleased DCPS has provided Bakari the opportunity to increase his mental and physical abilities.
Bakari has autistic characteristics with a developmental delay. During his younger years of schooling, beginning at age five, he had a full-time dedicated aide who was with him every step of the way.
Recently, because he has matured and has gained confidence in himself and a greater understanding of his surroundings and environment, he no longer has a full-time dedicated aide. He now has a part-time aide. His aide is with him during lunch, recess and inclusion classes, which is when he is with general education students.
When he is in an environment in his primary classroom, which is the autism classroom, he doesn’t require an aide.
What do you think makes for a great teacher?
I think a great teacher has patience, love, strength and the desire to lead students in a positive direction.
I think a great teacher can increase the level of a student’s understanding academically, but a grand teacher will go beyond the call of duty to make sure every student is challenged to his potential – mentally, physically, socially and spiritually. I think a grand teacher also knows and understands that he or she is a part of every student’s "tool set."
We have been blessed to have grand teachers.
What is some advice you would give other DCPS parents who have just learned that their child has a delay or disability?
I would definitely tell parents to breathe, just breathe. Take time to understand that they are not alone. I would highly suggest early intervention – it made a difference in my son’s earlier years.
I would also suggest that other DCPS parents advocate for their child, join a support network and be the voice they want for their child. Show love and respect, be patient because there is a long road ahead and this is just the beginning of watching the love of their life blossom.
I would advise other DCPS parents in similar situations to hold on and be strong. In the words of my son Bakari, "You can do it ‘cause you rock!"
Special education has been and continues to be a primary focus for DCPS. What changes or improvements in your child’s special education services have you seen over the past few years?
I have seen an increase in parent involvement. There are parent-training workshops, opportunities to have home visits from highly trained individuals through DCPS, which have helped me navigate this whole world, special education forums, and online resources on the DCPS website: Special Education at DCPS and Autism Program and Resources.
Are there any helpful resources you used that you would like to pass on to other parents?
There is an online Yahoo support group, which is for parents and families of autistic children. Sometimes, in the beginning, parents feel so isolated.
They don’t want to confront someone that they may know or who may know their child. With this online group, you can be anonymous if you want, which takes a little pressure off.