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Remembering Phil Pickens
When Phil Pickens was the State Special Education Director for Georgia, back in late 2000, he met Patti Solomon, mother, advocate and newly-minted Family Engagement Specialist at the Georgia Department of Education. That meeting led to the creation of the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership.
The GaPMP was modeled after a program in Ohio, which Solomon had been involved with prior to her family’s move to Georgia. Pickens liked the idea, but had a slightly different vision of what this new initiative could be. He wanted to take the program, meant to encourage parent engagement for families of students receiving special education services one step further. His vision was for those parents, or parent mentors as we are now known, to be considered more than volunteers… they would be trained professionals working in their local school districts.
In 2002, the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership began with six pilot counties. Since then, the initiative has grown to over 100 parent mentors who partner with special education directors in over 90 school districts to embed family engagement into school and district initiatives.
The work of the GaPMP has proven its sustainability, growing and adapting over the years. Parent mentors suffered the loss of their own mentor: Phil Pickens, who died in 2006. Solomon retired from her post at the DOE in 2012.
Scroll down to read Rememberances from Past and Present Mentors
The following have been recognized in acknowledgement of their hard work and dedication in the role of a leader:
2005 Phil Pickens
2006 Ms. Clemene Ramsey Fayette County Schools SPED Director
2007 Dr. Julie Moilanen Grady County Schools SPED Director
2008 Mike Blake Clarke County Schools and Scott Crain Hall County Parent Mentor
2009 Dr. Mikki Garcia Chatham County Schools Ginger Henderson Meriwether County Parent Mentor
2010 Dr. Sue Carter Walton County SPED and Tracy Barber Seminole County Parent Mentor
2011 Joellen Harden Dodge County SPED Kim Chester Bartow County Parent Mentor
2012 Joan Baird Madison County SPED Pam Moore Madison County Parent Mentor
2013 Jennifer Mellor Jones County SPED Teresa Johnson Walton County Parent Mentor
2014 Ann Cross Gordon County SPED Carol Smith Candler County Parent Mentor
2015 Andrea Pender Barrow County SPED April Lee Wayne County Parent Mentor
2016 Sandy Malone Seminole County SPED *parent mentor tie Edith Abakare, Atlanta City AND Lisa Vaughn, Liberty County
2017 Dr. Mary Kay Berry White County SPED and Jackie McNair Gwinnett County Parent Mentor
2018 Heidi Hill Clarke County SPED and JoEllen Hancock Cherokee County Parent Mentor