Tuesday, March 11, 2014

504 Plans

Are you in charge of the 504 plans in your building?

I think every building is different.  In my district, at least at the middle school level, counselors are in charge of 504 plans.  

Many believe 504 plans take away from a fully implemented comprehensive guidance and counseling program.  Some counselors never have to mess with them, while other counselors may be the case manager for all the 504 plans in the building.  There definitely is a lot of variance.

In my school, the other school counselor and I split the alphabet.  I have last names A-K, and she takes care of L-Z.  We split 504 plans in the same manner.  

While I do think that 504 plans can be time consuming, I certainly find them to be more of a counseling responsibility than I can cafeteria duty.  As much as I would rather have a dedicated individual handle all the plans & paperwork, I do believe managing the 504 plans is a way of advocating for students (the reason for our program!) and it is proactive as it sets up a system of support for our struggling students.

This week I have three 504 meetings planned.  Two are complete and one more happens this Thursday.  It is a busy time for 504 plans.  :)

Today I met with a parent who struggles to keep her student on the straight and narrow.  The student has some behavior problems, and I can tell that this momma is tired, but NOT defeated.  She is still going to stand up for her son and push him to do his absolute best.

So, the 504 meeting went just fine today.  It was a beautiful day and we joked about making sure to get mom in and out quickly so she could enjoy the sunshine.  

As we were walking out of the conference room, this mom said, "I feel really good about this meeting today.  We are going to get him straightened out."  I agreed.  I thanked mom for her time and told her how nice it was to meet her.  I shook her hand.

She shook my hand and then she said, "I want to give you a hug."  Little does that mom know how much that small gesture impacted me!  In a simple gesture, she showed me how much she loves and cares for her children.  With that hug, she expressed to me her gratitude for advocating and supporting both her and her son.  She also told me that I was doing my job.

That hug was such a beautiful compliment to me.  This woman who looks very much different than I do shares high expectations, joy, and pain with me.  She works so hard in an uphill battle.  Her children are so very important to her.  She would do anything to support them, but she is not going to do their work for them.  They have to work hard in life.  She sets that example for them and then holds them to it.  She is a momma bear who will stand up for her cubs and protect them.  I am so grateful her children have such a solid role model in their home.  She is not perfect, and never pretends to be.  She is real.  Genuine.  100% authentic.  She made my day!

It is experiences like this that make all the hard work and effort of 504 plans do-able.  I am advocating for my students by offering them supports and leveling the playing field.  And I hope that what I do makes a difference!