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LAWSON-P-SPED854-M7-INTERVIEW

This interview took place at Eisenhower Middle School with one of the Para educators working
under the SPED teacher Mitch Williams. Due to legal reasons and school policy, Mr. Williams
stated that he could not provide me contact information for any of his students or family
participating in the Functionally Applied Academics at Eisenhower Middle School. He did tell
me that one of his para educators would be able to participate in an interview since she had a son
go through the FAA program and since graduated.
My interview took place with a para educator named Ms. Heather Slousser and she was happy to
meet with me to share her experiences as a parent of a child with special needs. I began the
interview by asking her to share with me her experiences in collaborating with school personnelespecially since the special educations services in this district is run through a COOOP. Ms.
Slousser stated that most of the collaboration she participated in was in the development and
implementing her childs IEP and like any parent, discussing strategies that would enable her
child be successful at school.. As for some of the challenges that Ms. Sousser faced, she was not
able to share much but did state that the districts educational personnel is extremely supportive
so were no real issues with communication. I then asked if she felt that this was largely due to
her involvement in the district but she did not seem to think so. However, Ms. Slousser did tell
me about the main issue that she and her son struggled with and that was when he arrived in
middle school in the 7th grade. Coming in from a different building meant change and also
inclusion in the classroom which then brought on some behavior issues whenever content was
too high or either too low. These changes meant that her son went through phases of being either
confused or bored, so just working to keep the communication going to find out what would
work for her son proved to be a real challenge.

The interview then moved to how Ms. Slousser discovered success or how she would describe
what was successful during this phase of her childs learning and she said having her son to
finally enroll in the FAA (Functionally Applied Academics) program meant that he would have
the opportunity to participate in regular education. Although she initially worried about this
change, she found that the education staff works well together and successful; collaboration was
the reason why things worked. The educational staff hears the parent and therefore there was
dynamite communication between the teachers and parent.
I told Ms. Slousser that since good communication seemed to be at the core of why things
worked well for her son and her son, I asked if she had any advice for parents who may be
struggling to make things work. Ms. Slousser then responded that while it is important that
parents have a goal for their child, it is even more important to keep at the forefront what the
student wants. In addition, Ms. Slousser recommended that parents be proactive at learning about
options so that they are not floating and trying to figure out things on their own.
We ended with what Ms. Slousser thought about additional support systems and did she find
them valuable. She then responded that supports are definitely available during the students
school years, but she wished that she had more information about options during the transition
process and post high school.
I found Ms. Slousser to be very relaxed and she had the same expectations for her child as a
parent of a child without special needs. Ms. Slousser, like any parent simply desired to have the
best for her child and taking on an active role as a participant and communicating with school
personnel made a positive impact.

In conclusion, I would like to learn about the process of preparing a student with special needs
for middle school. Lastly, since this district is not highly diverse, I wonder how it would handle
working with parents and students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Question #1

What has been your role as a parent of a child with special needs?

Question #2

Can you tell me about the collaboration process? To what extent have you
participated in collaboration with education staff?

Question #3

As a parent of a child with special needs, what were some of the challenges you
faced working with school personnel?

Question #4

What advice can you give to other parents of children with special needs?

Question #5

Is there something in the special education program you wished you know more
about or were aware of?