Parent appointed to state education committee

Christine Germeyer poses with her husband, Jay Germeyer, in front of the White House. Christine Germeyer was recently appointed to the state's Special Education Advisory Committee. Courtesy photo

It’s been a busy few months for Christine Germeyer, chairperson of the Frederick County Special Education Advisory Committee and recent appointee to the same committee on the state level.

Germeyer, who lives in Cross Junction with her family and is executive director for First Night Winchester, has been a member of Frederick County’s committee for four years. She said she spent a year sitting in on the meetings before looking to join the committee, and was nominated to become chair by her peers after one year.

“As a mother of exceptional children, I have a personal interest in wanting to know how to help my children succeed,” she said. “And if my children succeed, I believe other children can succeed as well – if there is a good collaboration with all the parties involved.”

Now, she’s also representing 13 other counties and five cities as Region 4 parent representative on the Virginia Special Education Advisory Committee. To her knowledge, she said, she’s the first such representative to come from this side of the Blue Ridge Mountains – appointed from a large pool of applicants.

“It just seemed like it was a shot in the dark,” she said. “I was really surprised and I was humbled and honored to have been chosen.”

Her first quarterly meeting on the committee was in July, soon after the state Department of Education made her appointment official. Germeyer said she spent much of that meeting observing, but she was able to use her experience on the local level at the next meeting on Oct. 13 and 14.

Since her appointment, she said she’s reached out to all the local committees to learn about the various concerns and achievements in special education. With a region spanning from Arlington and Alexandria to Madison and Page counties, Germeyer said she hears from very diverse communities.

“It’s about learning from one another – what are we doing well?” she said.

Michele Sandy, director of special instructional services for Frederick County Public Schools, said Germeyer has grown parent participation in the local committee’s “I’m Determined” mini-summit. The summit, which Sandy said Germeyer has helped to engineer, is meant for all K-12 students and their parents.

“She’s a very strong advocate for the children and wanting them to be independent,” she said.

With takeaways for all kinds of students, Germeyer said she wants to promote the summit’s goals on a statewide level.

“That’s been our charge is to try to empower these children to be able to advocate for themselves, educate their families to see all of their abilities,” she said.

Germeyer is set to serve a three year term on the committee and can serve an additional term afterward. Over the course of her first time, she said she aims to visit all of the committees in the region.

“I do see this as fulfilling both terms. It’s not something you walk away from,” she said.

Germeyer said Region IV constituents are welcome to contact her at germeyer.sseac@gmail.com.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com.