SERC Honors Shumbos for Parent Involvement

SERC Honors Shumbos for Parent Involvement
SERC Honors Shumbos for Parent Involvement

LEARN student Jake Shumbo has made it his mission to inspire people with disabilities to overcome all challenges to achieve their dreams. His parents, Dawn and Tom Shumbo, have supported him throughout his journey, and on November 21, their advocacy efforts were formally recognized.

The State Education Resource Center (SERC) rewarded Tom and Dawn, of Colchester, as one set of 10 winners of the 2019 Parental Involvement Recognition Award. The honor is awarded annually to parents who make a difference in the lives of their school or community.

The State Department of Education held a ceremony at the State Capitol on Thursday, November 21, to honor the awardees. Commissioner of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona and SERC Executive Director Ingrid Canady both praised the parents for their efforts on behalf of students throughout Connecticut.

“This award in part is about my parents and their unbelievable commitment to me seven days a week and 12 months a year,” Jake said, introducing his parents.  “We all need to be interdependent people and that rings especially true for me and other people with disabilities.”

In December 2011, Jake suffered a serious brain injury in a snowboarding accident. Once Jake began attending LEARN’s Student Support Services programs, the LEARN staff was impressed by how engaged Dawn and Tom were in their son’s care and their endless positivity.

Lois Eldridge, LEARN’s Transition Coordinator, said that the Shumbos found ways to support Jake’s recovery as well as nurture his interests. For example, Dawn and Jake walk every day from the parking lot into the school building, foregoing a wheelchair in favor of physical exercise. Outside of school, fishing is one Jake’s favorite hobbies. Tom has modified the family boat to make it more accessible for Jake’s physical needs. He is also working with the State Department of Energy & Environmental Protection to improve boat ramp accessibility.

Eldridge nominated Dawn and Tom for the award and joined Jake in introducing them during the recognition ceremony.

“I am humbled by Dawn and Tom’s positive and daily commitment to supporting Jake in moments big and small as well as planning for a rewarding future,” Eldridge said. “Their responsiveness and engagement has been an important and guiding component to Jake’s successful transition to the work force and beyond.”

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