East Islip’s SEPTA (Special Education Parent Teacher Association) began a decade ago with a group of five parents meeting once a month to exchange stories, ideas, help and support. The organization grew and expanded over time, boasting over 410 members as of last year. “We are excited about creating awareness and we are still meeting once a month to exchange ideas and offer support to parents of children struggling in schools,” said SEPTA representative and PTA Council President Bonnie Buckley. “We maintain that all children struggle in schools at some time or another emotionally, socially or academically. SEPTA helps parents help their children.”
At last October’s monthly Board of Education meeting, SEPTA President Frank Fritz presented the school district with a $2500 check for constructing a barrier-free, handicap-accessible playground at Connetquot Elementary School in Islip Terrace. “It was really a collective idea,” explained Fritz. “We saw a real need for this playground,” Buckley concurred, noting that it took four years of effort by the group to see the playground project get off the ground.
Buckley remains proud of SEPTA’s scholarship fund, which awarded $3000 last year alone to children with learning disabilities. “We also have created a Disability Specific Parent Support List so parents can get in touch with parents of a child sharing a similar experience to theirs,” she added. This list can be accessed on SEPTA’s website.
2012 brings even more to SEPTA’s agenda. “We have a diverse group of speakers on our calendar this year, all designed to help parents better understand how their children learn and what they can do to help them,” said Buckley.
Also on the calendar is the group’s second annual Snowflake Fundraiser, in conjunction with the local Ancient Order of Hibernians. The event will take place on Feb. 3 at the AOH Hall at Our Lady of Knock, at 65 Champlin Ave. in East Islip. “Please come meet us,” urged Buckley. “We welcome new parents and are here to help them navigate the very overwhelming and confusing world of special education – or as we like to call it, differently abled education.”
East Islip SEPTA