Special Services puts students first

Courtney Cummings and Brenda Chatmon always strive to put students first in their work with Special Services. 

Chatmon, a campus support supervisor, oversees a small team that serves as the main point of contact for Region 4 campuses, administrators, and executive directors. Their focus is providing advocacy, equitable accommodations, and individualized learning support to students. 

Cummings, a project manager for critical cases, steps in when a concern requires legal intervention, serving as a liaison and encouraging conflict resolution. 

The work can be challenging, as every student may have different needs that span across several departments, including Early Learning and the Homeless Education Program, but Cummings and Chatmon said it is always worthwhile. 

“The beauty of our system is that it’s built for collaboration,” Cummings said. “It’s built for interaction. It’s built for the review of data. It’s built for truly understanding the whole child and creating a plan that supports the whole child. The best compliment is when parents give our department feedback, saying, ‘I really trust working with you. I want to be a part of Dallas ISD.’”

Being focused, fast, flexible, and friendly is crucial in both their positions as they collaborate with stakeholders, team members, and families to put students first in every interaction. 

“Equity is at the core of our customer service and providing good customer service is not an anomaly,” Chatmon said. “Giving our best efforts to ensure we meet the needs of each individual student who crosses our path is essential. Sometimes that means extending ourselves or reaching out to collaborate with others to provide the stakeholder with the support needed. Providing this level of customer service comes naturally for us.”

“It’s really about creating an experience that is human centered,” Cummings agreed. “We’re leading with empathy and listening to understand, because that gives us the opportunity to tap into the true concern and more effectively resolve the issue.” 

Their commitment to striving for the yes and transforming student lives during a recent case impressed Shanieka Christmas-McDonald, the principal at H.I. Holland Elementary School at Lisbon. 

“Ms. Cummings and Ms. Chatmon both provide exemplary Core 4 customer service with SPED concerns,” Christmas-McDonald said. “Both are always positive, willing to help, and follow up on each individual situation.”

Both Chatmon and Cummings said their work with Special Services is a “pleasure.” 

“It’s a labor of love,” Cummings said. “Students under the umbrella of special education simply need additional support and services as outlined in their individualized education plan, and that’s what makes the work we do such a joy. There is nothing like being able to ensure that a student can succeed.”

“As a person who attended Dallas ISD schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, it is heartwarming to have this opportunity to support and serve our students,” Chatmon added. “Knowing the impact of our work on students and their families gives a sense of gratification and is very humbling.”

You may also like