Earlier this week, SEPTA had the opportunity to participate in a meet-and-greet session with FCPS’ newly appointed superintendent, Dr. Michelle Reid. SEPTA’s current president Michelle Cades and incoming president Amanda Campbell were in attendance, along with leadership from Parents of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia (POAC-NoVA). The leadership of Fairfax County Council of PTAs was invited as well, but was unable to attend.
Dr. Reid was primarily interested in hearing from each of us about our personal journeys through special education in FCPS. Michelle and Amanda both shared overviews of their professional backgrounds as well as their families’ experiences. Between their combined experiences, Amanda and Michelle shared a wide range of successes and struggles that spanned elementary through high school experiences, self-contained elementary classrooms to secondary twice-exceptional experiences, as well as experiences with the intersection of disability and mental health services in FCPS.
Dr. Reid listened intently to us all; she and Dr. Frances Ivey, the FCPS Deputy Superintendent, took notes throughout the conversation. Once we had all shared our stories, we spent some time discussing the similar themes across our varied experiences, as well as brief backgrounds about our organizations and memberships, and our recent advocacy efforts in FCPS’ disability community – especially with regard to the shift in literacy instruction to the Science of Reading and the new Restraint & Seclusion policy. We also shared with Dr. Reid some of the systemic issues that have been raised repeatedly by both teachers and families. To give Dr. Reid an opportunity to learn more about SEPTA outside of this meet-and-greet, we gave her copies of our 2021-2022 Advocacy Priorities Position Statement, our Restraint and Seclusion Resolution, and – of course! – a SEPTA car magnet to help spread the word about SEPTA once she is here and driving around Northern Virginia.
Dr. Reid made it clear that building a relationship with us and having ongoing, direct communication with our organizations was a priority, and we look forward to continuing the positive partnership we have built with the FCPS Superintendent’s Office. Thank you, Dr. Reid, Dr. Ivey, and POAC-NoVA for your time and collaboration!