BYU-Hawaii hosted the third annual event for the organization Parents as Advocates for Change in Education on Oct. 14 to inform parents and teachers of the pathways most beneficial to help their children in education.
The annual event consisted of a morning registration period, two classes, a concluding lunch and keynote speaker. The morning speaker John D. Bell, vice president of BYUH, noted how P.A.C.E. “has become a very popular event in our community. It is so important to allow access to education… together we stand, together we succeed.”
Dr. Barbara Hong, a BYUH professor of special education and the main organizer of the event, explained, “Every child comes with different gifts and talents. Education is about directing them properly.”
She went on to discuss the multitude of services the group offered freely, sharing how “some children do not learn in conventional ways. It isn’t about firm conventionality, but trying new methods.”
These methods included offers of “free screenings, education and training for parents, as well as support methods,” according to Hong.
Many of the individuals attending were parents of children with disabilities or actively taught students with unique challenges, prompting local parent Betty Nikora to comment on how the event “gave other parents access to the information they need to help their kids,” as she had helped her own. She highlighted to parents how “you are your child’s voice. They can’t advocate for themselves.”
Tom and Angela LeSuer, local students and employees within the school systems said, “Most of the time classes in public school are not geared for students according to their abilities.
“P.A.C.E. is a program that reinforces and reminds educators of their task and significance, while remaining a great tool for instilling knowledge in parents and caretakers alike.”
Tavia Thompson, a senior in elementary education from Texas stated, “There are many issues that arise in the public-school system: no teachers, no trained therapists, no funding, etc.” She continued, “Programs like P.A.C.E. increase understanding for those who would otherwise go without. It helps to bring together the tough realities with the ideal learning environment.”
The keynote speaker, Principal Loha Kaka of Laie Elementary, reached out to her audience to “build relationships with those you trust your children with.” The principal answered many questions from the crowd, constantly reiterating how teaching “is about loving and knowing the people we serve.”
She began to tear up while she explained “this isn’t just a job for me. This is my community and my people. I have an obligation to give back.” P.A.C.E. is looking to develop a more inclusive and understanding relationship between families and their educational teams by creating a voice for advocating.