S.P.E.A.K.S. Education was founded by Dorie France. After 20 plus years of advocating for children with special needs and learning how to communicate with educators , administrators, and community agencies, Dorie decided it was time to educate the parents and the student. Three years ago after Dorie’s job was eliminated (from a MI PTI), she knew that there was no way she could let the families, students and educators go without services.
Dorie had numerous parents and administrators call and ask her to start an advocacy group. So with the help of 12 good people in the education field, medical and community mental health field, along with some very super parents, S.P.E.A.K.S. Education was started. In 2009, it became incorporated and received it’s non-profit 501c3 status.
S.P.E.A.K.S. Education stands for Students Parents Educators Alliance to Know Special Education. The board consist of parents that have special education children themselves. There are seven board members and four advisory members. Five of the seven board members are parent mentors spread across the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
The Upper Peninsula is a remote, very rural and low income geographical area. To travel the Upper Peninsula on a daily basis can make for a very long day on the road. Our local school districts have the highest percentage of Native American student population in the state of Michigan. S.P.E.A.K.S. Education now covers 8 counties in the Upper Peninsula and the districts within them.
We are the Upper Peninsula’s parent resource center. Providing advocacy, information referral and trainings.
We have a small contract with Michigan Alliance that helps us pay for our office and the utilities. SPEAKS Education is an in-kind/volunteer organization, and provides services free of charge. We received a small training grant from the SOSY program to help us with administration, building a strong board, and volunteer building.
We at S.P.E.A.K.S. Education work very hard for all children with special needs and their families.
Board Members/Counties They Represent
- President- Brenda Wiggins/ Chippewa County
- Vice President- Cheryl Tryon/ Mackinac County
- Treasurer- Teresa Andres/Mackinac Island, Mackinac County
- Todd Olmstead/Chippewa County
- Brad Martyn/ Luce County