Mont Vernon mother honored with parent involvement award
CONCORD – On Oct. 1, the New Hampshire Department of Education and Parent Information Center co-sponsored the sixth annual Parent Involvement in Education Awards.
This event celebrates the efforts of educators, parents and family-school partnership teams from around the state that display creativity, innovation and/or commitment at the community, school, district and state level in one or more of the New Hampshire Family-School- Community Partnership Standards.
"Parents are a child’s first and most influential teachers," Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement at the awards ceremony as she proclaimed October as Parent Involvement in Education Month.
Among the recipients in this year’s ceremony was Jennifer Bertrand, of Mont Vernon. A parent of four children, one who has autism, Bertrand has empowered other families to be advocates for their kids. Her passion has become a driving force for children with special needs in New Hampshire and throughout the country.
"You’ve got to surround yourself with like-minded people that are invested in the same issues," Bertrand said at the event. "And while it’s scary putting yourself out there and to have people start counting on you, this work is just too important to assume someone else will do it. It’s too important to just sit on the sidelines."
Bertrand has provided testimony at numerous New Hampshire legislative hearings to support policies that ensure students and adults with disabilities the right to dignity, equal opportunities and full inclusion in all aspects of life. Bertrand advocated in primary roles at the state and federal level on important topics such as restraint and seclusion in schools, the prohibition of payment of subminimum wages for people with disabilities, and Commercial Medicaid Managed Care.
In addition, Bertrand has served as a volunteer member on the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities as the policy chairwoman, engaging other parents and stakeholders to promote public policies that improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities.
A graduate of the New Hampshire Parent Information Center Volunteer Advocate training series, the UNH Institute on Disability Leadership Series and a former UNH Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Fellow, Bertrand has used her knowledge, connections and training to help support other parents, especially in the special education arena. She also founded the southern chapter of Advocates Building Lasting Equality, a grassroots organization that takes on human and civil rights issues that affect people who experience disability.
For more information on the Parent Information Center of New Hampshire, visit picnh.org. For more information on ABLE NH, visit ablenh.org.