Together Including Every Student (TIES)
The TIES program is guided by a district Coordinator and encompasses three groups of individuals: the participants, their volunteer partners, and the activity leader who is the adult in charge of the proposed activity.
The Coordinator. The Coordinator is selected by the school district from interested applicants and is ideally the parent of a child receiving special education services. The role requires the following qualifications:
® Strong knowledge of developmental disabilities
® Familiarity with resources and services in the school district and community
® Effective communication and interpersonal skills
® Strong organizational skills
® Ability to deliver presentations to groups
® Ability to build and coordinate a team of volunteers
® Willingness to be active in the community
® Desire and ability to promote teamwork among the family, school district and community.
The Coordinator begins with an active recruitment process using a variety of approaches to invite students and community activity leaders to join the TIES program. The constituent groups are introduced to TIES in the following ways:
® TIES participant families - An introductory information/application package is mailed from the office of the Director of Special Education to all students with developmental disabilities, ages 8 to 21. The application form is focused on interests, experience and support requirements.
® TIES student volunteers - The TIES Coordinator welcomes 8th through 12th grade students, in both general and special education settings, to volunteer as support partners, using an application form similar to the participantís.
® Community activity leaders/instructors - The TIES Coordinator shares information, through meetings and mailings, with administrators of local community organizations.
The volunteer training workshop is designed by the TIES Directors to extend awareness of inclusion, diversity and language of respect. It is integral to the program as a valuable tool for both volunteers and activity leaders, and can be adapted to a wide array of audiences.
The workshop is 45 minutes long to accommodate school period schedules and covers the following areas:
® Definition of developmental disability
® How diversity enriches our lives and community
® The critical role of friendship in a personís social and emotional growth
® Examples of support and modifications that the individual may need
® Person first language
® The skills and attributes of an effective volunteer
® The role and responsibilities of the volunteer
The emphasis is on creating a relationship of mutual respect in which the specific goal is successful participation of each individual in a group activity. Friendship, which cannot be mandated or created at will, may arise from this opportunity but is not a specific goal for the partner team.