Membership Your Way – April 2021

Lissa Zukoff – Special Education Specialist

I am Lissa Zukoff, the Special Education Specialist for the NYS PTA. I live on Long Island with my husband and three sons. I became a member of the PTA when my oldest son started kindergarten. He had been attending a center based preschool (center-based programs provide special education services to students in a classroom setting.) The preschool best suited to my child’s needs was about 15 minutes away, which meant that neither of us had the opportunity to meet other families who attended our local elementary school. I was anxious about so many things, and felt very isolated. At the transition meeting from the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) to the Committee on Special Education (CSE), the chairperson recommended I join the district’s SEPTA, I am so glad I took her advice!

By joining SEPTA, I made friends with parents on a similar path. In addition to the formal presentations on a variety of important topics, we also shared information we had learned through experience. Whatever I was looking for – a doctor, recreational program, summer camp, or even a babysitter – someone had an experience to share or a recommendation to give. The more seasoned parents also helped me learn the ins-and-outs of the school district, what to expect at a district CSE Meeting, and facilitated introductions to other parents with children the same age.

My son is in high school now, so some of the topics have changed, but the community I built through SEPTA is still as strong as ever. Joining a local PTA unit helps to reinforce the close connections within individual communities. National PTA is the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the United States, and, thanks to local unit members, can advocate for all children. However you choose to PTA – it all starts with membership!

Many of us are attending Virtual CSE Meetings as we prepare for the next school year. Below are some links with helpful information on navigating this new normal: