Parent Transition Fair provides resources to special education high schoolers and their families

  • Parent Resource Fair

    Figuring out life after high school can be a challenge for every high schooler. But for special education high schoolers and their families, the challenge can quickly become complicated, difficult and overwhelming.

    That’s why Springfield Public Schools is hosting a High School Parent Transition Fair on Thursday, April 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Roseann Bentley Administrative Center, located at 1610 E. Sunshine.

    “Often times, when our lower functioning students graduate, they and their families don’t really know what comes next,” said Dr. Missy Lucas, assistant director of special services. “But we want all of our students to graduate with jobs or be involved in job training. So this resource fair connects families with lower-functioning high schoolers with the resources they need to have that plan for life after high school.”

    The Parent Resource Fair will serve as a central location of all Springfield’s community resources and organizations that benefit teens, and eventually adults, with severe cognitive and physical disabilities. Arc of the Ozarks, Developmental Center of the Ozarks, Mers Goodwill, Regional Center, Transitional Specialist and Abilities First representatives will all be on hand to answer questions and make in-person connections, allowing them to build relationships with families.

    Abilities First, a local non-profit that provides support for disabled children and adults to achieve their dreams, has partnered with SPS in a significant way to promote the numerous community, volunteer and employment opportunities available for special education students after graduation.

    “We’re trying to help people with developmental disabilities to reach their dreams, and we connect them to the resources, services and accommodations that help them succeed in whatever way that looks like for them,” said Maggie Rollwagen, Abilities First educational liaison. “Transition looks different for everyone, but we help bridge that gap between the real world and school world.”

    The Resource Fair is part of an ongoing initiative at SPS to provide inclusive college and career readiness initiatives for every learner, every day. But there’s also another goal for the event: to promote a supportive network for families of special needs teens.

    “We want to provide options for our parents and put them at ease,” said Dr. Brady Quirk, executive director of special services. “We want them to know that there is a network of people in the community that will support them and help their child reach their fullest potential. But we also want them to know that they’re not alone, that there are other families who are going through the same thing that they are. And we are there, with them, every step of the way.”

    To attend the free Parent Resource Fair, RSVP by April 6 to 523-7500.