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Bridging the Gap: New Grand Rapids startup brings parents and teachers together to help students

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Leap 2 Success was founded to help students succeed.

Leap 2 Success was founded to help students succeed. /Beth Batts

This article was written and edited by Annie Batts, Megan Carrington, Trevor Cooper, and Jessica Covert for EN 102-4433 at GRCC.

Education provides an opportunity for everyone to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, some students who put the time and effort into learning still end up failing. To them, education is not an opportunity, but instead a burden. As a result they lose motivation and fall behind. The students, however, are not the only ones who are struggling; parents and teachers are similarly influenced as well.  Having a parent that does not know how to help their child only adds to the frustration. As a teacher, neither knowing what advice to give to the parents nor how to alter their teaching style to accommodate the needs of the students can be overwhelming. This is where Leap 2 Success comes in. This exceptional service stimulates communication between the families and the schools in order to get struggling student the help that they need.

Leap 2 Success is a consulting firm founded by Grand Rapidian Beth Batts, M.A. Ed., that helps parents communicate their child’s needs with teachers and school administration. The students who benefit from Leap 2 Success face many obstacles. For example, due to technical educational or psychological terms, parents may not understand what teachers are trying to convey when discussing their child’s challenges. Other parents don’t trust the school system and may want to keep their child’s problems confidential. The biggest obstacle however is a misunderstanding about the meaning of Special Education: parents do not want their children labeled with words that target them for ridicule. Through her process of working closely with the parents, Batts works to destroy these barriers to give these students the help they need to achieve success.

Batts works directly with parents and schools. She informs parents of the rights granted to them by federal and state laws, and  helps parents talk specifically to school staff. In addition, families are assisted with organizing their time to insure that a positive learning environment at home is established. Counselor and doctor recommendations are also provided as needed. All along the way, Leap 2 Success provides support. "My passion in education is providing individuals with what they need to succeed. This matches with what parents are saying. They want to help their child, but sometimes they don't know how," Batts expresses. But there is not always a straightforward solution, so that’s where Batts comes in.

“As a teacher, I had hands on experience with parents and students who struggled with communication. There is a positive correlation between informed and involved parents and students’ success,” Batts said. Through her experience in the educational system and regular encounters with the obstacles in parent-school communication, she managed to develop a four step plan to help each family. Step one is connecting the school and the home, making a workable plan, detailing actions to be taken by both parties. Step two educates parents on how they can help. This step also shows the parents what they can rely on the school to help with. It identifies barriers and challenges in the child’s education, and comes up with possible solutions. Step thee is encouraging communications between the home and the school. This process involves setting up phone contacts and meetings. Step four is connecting the parents to resources. It provides the parents with the tools needed to help their child succeed. These four important steps help Batts develop a plan to ensure students’ continued growth and success.

Leap 2 Success has made a quite an impact, especially on parents. "Instead of having to explain my son's disabilities and challenges to her [Batts], she just understood and removed the hurdles we encountered while trying to get his IEP finalized," one parent noted after receiving Batt’s assistance.  While admiration is nice, it is the effect that this life changing program has on families that really counts. Leap 2 Success gives those kids who may otherwise fall through the cracks the opportunity to succeed to their utmost potential. As Batts says, "seeing students use their skills to achieve their goals and hearing parents talk about feeling relieved that they are able to help their child is what it's all about."

Disclosure: Annie Batts is related to Beth Batts, the subject of this profile.

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