Educare Chicago parent advocate elected to local school council

Educare Chicago parent Edna Pollard has long been an advocate for her children and for her community. In the fall, she will have another platform from which to help enact change. She has been elected as a parent member of the Local School Council for Ida B Wells Preparatory Elementary Academy.

“I always wanted to run [for the council] to try to make the schools better for children who look like me because in our neighborhood there’s a lot of concern for the well-being of the children,” Pollard said. She explained that “their environment at home directly relates to their learning at school. So if there’s a tragedy or issue in the community, the child will go to school and will not function properly if those issues are not addressed.”

Pollard is the parent of a 5-year-old girl who attends Wells Preparatory Academy and twin 3-year-old-boys who attend Educare Chicago.

She sees her role on the council for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years as a step to try to improve one school to benefit the larger community.

“There are a lot of things that I tried to bring to the school before and I just think that I can get there even better by being on the Local School Council,” Pollard said.

She will be one of only six parents on the council. The Local School Councils give Chicago Public Schools parents, school staff and community members the opportunity to play a role in the decision-making at the school level.

Pollard was encouraged to run after attending an information session with a Chicago Public Schools representative hosted by the Educare Chicago Alumni Network (ECAN). Pollard started getting involved in ECAN earlier in the year and has been working directly with ECAN Manager Lisa Cockerham, who motivated her to apply for the school council and helped her with the application.

Pollard is looking forward to the two-year commitment on the council and might even pursue re-election or become a community representative later.

Her goals for being on the council are to make sure that the school is able to support children’s emotional development and to provide resources to children with special needs.

Her experiences raising the twins, who both have autism, has taught her how to navigate the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process—which she is sharing with other parents.

“I’m not an expert yet, but that’s one of my goals, to be an expert on the IEP process to help in the environment that I’m going to serve,” Pollard said.

She wants to make sure parents are first comfortable with the IEP process and then able to advocate for their child effectively. “We advocate, but a lot of times we’re not effective because we don’t know the rights that we have or the rights that our child has,” Pollard said.

Pollard already has a wealth of experience as an advocate in her community and at Educare Chicago where she is on the policy council, volunteers as a parent ambassador for a classroom, serves as the parent librarian and is working to start a family support group for parents of children with special needs.

“I really love it here,” Pollard said about Educare Chicago, citing the “sense of family” at the school.

Pollard’s role on the local school council has not officially started yet, but she is continuing to support and advise her community and fellow Educare parents. She encourages them to take advantage of the family support staff and opportunities at the school—and to always advocate for their children.

“This is about your children. You are their first advocate, so advocate for them,” Pollard tells them.