APS Parent Mentor Edith Abakare Named Finalist for the 2016 Annual Phil Pickens Leadership Award

Edith Picture

Edith Abakare is pictured center.

For Immediate Release

August 31, 2016

ATLANTA – Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Parent Mentor Edith Abakare was named one of six finalists for the 2016 Annual Phil Pickens Leadership Award by the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership.
This statewide honor recognizes parent mentors and special education administrators who work collaboratively between home, school and community to improve outcomes for students with disabilities, significant contributions to the partnership program, and leadership accomplishments in special education.

The late Mr. Pickens is a former Georgia Department of Education special education director who dedicated more than 35 years to improve the education of children with disabilities. He was also the founder of the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership.
For the past five years, Abakare has served as an APS parent mentor to parents and guardians of children with special needs, helping them navigate education and medical resources. “Five years ago, the first item on my desk as a parent mentor was a call from a parent who had a simple request,” said Abakare. “The note said ‘My son needs a helmet to ride the school bus because he has epilepsy.’ With the experience of being a mom of a child with seizures and the skills of a mentor, I called everyone from his classroom teacher to the director of nursing services. With collaboration and one common goal, the student received a helmet in 11 days.”

Abakare credits her work to having positive relationships, knowledge of how to navigate organizational structures, and her personal experience as a parent advocate for daughter Asher during the past 20 years. “My personal experience as a mom coupled with the skills I have learned through Partners in Policymaking allowed me to join the GADOE in its work on district accountability (Focus Monitoring), said Abakare. Now in my fifth year as a parent mentor, the trainings that I have been privilege to attend, such as Partners in Policymaking, Crucial Conversations and Leading by Convening have enriched me with stamina to do this work.”

Abakare has served in numerous leadership roles across the state of Georgia helping persons with disabilities. She is a member of the Georgia Department of Education State Systemic Improvement Plan Team, Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities Unlock the Waiting List Campaign, Fulton County Interagency Council, Atlanta Public Schools Career & Technical Instruction Advisory Committee, Georgia Futures Facilitator for Person Centered Planning and the Atlanta Council of PTA Special Education Chair. Abakare is also a supporting parent with Parent to Parent of Georgia and a member of the Frederick Douglass High School Local School Governance GO Team.

The criteria for selection of the Phil Pickens Leadership Award is based upon a candidate’s demonstration of leadership in the following areas: building home, school and community partnerships; modeling collaboration and partnerships impacting families of students with disabilities locally and around the state; and leadership within the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership.

All of the finalists will be formally recognized at the annual Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership Kickoff Conference Sept. 14 –16 at the Georgia Coastal Conference Center in Savannah, Ga. For more information about the finalists visit: http://www.parentmentors.org/home/announcing-the-2016-phil-pickens-award-nominees

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About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 97 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters, 87 schools that include 16 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies. For more information, visit http://www.atlantapublicschools.us<http://www.atlantapublicschools.us>

About the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership
The Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership is a joint initiative between the Georgia State Department of Education, Division for Special Education and Supports and local school districts. The partnership is comprised of parents and professionals working together to improve outcomes for students with disabilities by enhancing communication and collaboration between families, educators and the community.

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