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Dear Graduating Professional – By Wendy Eyrich

Dear Graduating Professional,

Congratulations on your choice to enter the exceptional education field. What an enormous responsibility you’ve taken upon yourself. My guess is that many of you have been impacted by disability in your life in some way, whether through a family member, friend, etc.

The following is some advice from me, a seasoned parent.

1) Remember that parents know their child best. Most of the time a parent is your best ally. Keep in mind that you’re a team and both have the child’s best interests at heart. Develop a good working relationship with parents when possible and life is easier for everyone.

2) Believe in these children. Often times when your expectations of them are high they’ll rise to the occasion.

3) Remember:

Education is Not One-Size-Fits-All – By: Cynthia Parker


Every parent wants what’s best for their child.  We go to great lengths to make sure our kid has access to a great education provided by qualified teachers.  However, because every child is unique, our paths towards this goal may differ.

Our son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and a half.  Around that time, he began speech, occupational, and developmental therapies.  Although he was getting all of these services, his therapists were unable to adequately judge his comprehension levels due to his severe speech delay.  We simply didn’t know what he knew because he couldn’t tell us.

Because of our son’s delays and diagnosis, he was thrust into the public school system much earlier than other children.  At the age of 3, public schools are required to evaluate children with suspected delays and disabilities to ascertain whether these delays/disabilities will have an impact on their education.  If this is true for your child, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is created and your child will begin therapy and/or specialized instruction through the school system if you so choose.  

This was our route and our public school system was in Hamilton County, Tennessee.  We had heard horror stories about

Never Give Up! – By Trish Cox

Are you feeling discouraged by all the things “people” are telling you your child won’t ever do? Indulge me while I share how we went from very defeated place to a very good place and why it is important to share your child’s successes. At my son’s kindergarten readiness meeting in preschool 14 years ago I thought I had the perfect kid but the teacher and director of the school told me that he would not “make it” in any Hamilton County school and that I needed to start looking at “special” school options. After many tears that summer, I decided not to short change him which would mean giving him the chance to fail, or SUCCEED, through his own experiences. That meant that we would head off to a public school kindergarten in the Fall. Fourteen years later, he is a senior with an ACT score of 25 and a 3.77 GPA. He will be in attending MTSU in the fall and majoring in animation. Oh, and did I mention that he will be in the honors college at MTSU? Why do I mention all of this? Not to brag, though I am very proud of him, but to encourage you. By 1st grade I had seen

Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency

The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) operates five integrated and interdependent statutory programs that share a primary goal – to help people with disabilities become fully productive members of society by achieving independence and meaningful employment.  GVRA has highly-skilled, trained teams of professionals, including Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCs), who offer the following services for Georgia residents:  Counseling and Guidance, Postsecondary Support, Supported Employment, Work Readiness Training, Job Placement Assistance,  Assistive Work Technology, Vocational Training, and On-the-job training.

Please click here for further information.

HCDE’s 3 Year Plan for System Changes in Exceptional Education

HCDE-blk-and-whiteFor 15 years LifeLine has advocated for systems change on behalf of thousands of Hamilton County students with special needs.  With the formation of the Chattanooga Inclusive Ed Working Group a couple of years ago, we joined many others in documenting the needs of the county and offering solutions to meet those needs.  On Thursday evening, July 19th, 2018, Dr. Cale Horne with Chattanooga Inclusive Ed and Mr. Garfield Adams presented the Group’s 3 year plan for systemic change to the Hamilton County School Board.

A copy of the final draft of the 3 year plan can be found here: HCDE – Three-Year Plan – Final draft for distribution   Our sincere gratitude to all of the individuals, families, and community partners that brought this project to this point.  The board received the presentation and we look forward to continuing the work we have begun.

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