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Parent mentors begin

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November 29, 2005

Thomasville, Georgia-- Educational history is being made in Thomasville. For the first time ever, the school system is starting a parent mentor program.

Retired Marine, James Edwards, is embarking on a new journey as an educator, of parents. "A parent mentor is one who goes and he interfaces with those parents who have children with special needs," says Edwards.

Edwards signed up because special education isn't a first for him. "My wife and I, we're raising one of our grandchildren, who was born with all types of birth defects," says Edwards.

Edwards' grandchild goes to Scott Elementary, one of the six schools in Thomasville, each of which have special education programs. "A lot of parents do not know what goods and services are available to them," says Edwards.

The program's goal is to solve that. First, it connects the dots between parents, their educational resources, and the school. Next, the program helps parents make realistic choices concerning their children. The third pillar helps parents come to terms with where they are with their child developmentally. Fourth, the program helps parents research what's available for their child. Lastly, the program serves as a listening outlet for parents.

"A parent can come to me at any time. As a matter of fact, we make an effort to reach out to the parent," says Edwards. Tuesday was the first grass roots effort, a meeting at 6:30 at the Thomasville Community Resource Center.

"By working together, then they can make it possible for that child to achieve," says Edwards. Just like his grandchild, and the other 420 children in the Rose City's special education program.

The parent mentoring program falls under the direction of the state Department of Education. About 40 school districts in Georgia participate.

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