December 2018

Message from the Special Services Director – Dr. Shannon Hitch

Welcome to December! It is a busy time of year for students and staff alike. It is also hard to believe that soon after winter break, we will be at the halfway point in the school year.  I thought I would share with you one of the current focus areas for our department, namely our early childhood programs. The past couple of years have seen remarkable growth in our student population. This year, we have our biggest enrollment numbers ever with over 500 students enrolled in birth to three programs and preschool. These numbers reflect students qualified for special education services. We have even greater numbers when we include our community preschool students and those in Head Start. September, 2019 will see the opening of our new early childhood center at Old Redmond School House. We are deeply grateful for our community's commitment to funding this new center as enrollment increases within in our preschool programs. We will continue to have preschool programs located throughout the district in some of our elementary schools. We will be inviting parents to learn more about our new preschool center and classes in early 2019.

For our students receiving birth to three services, we partner with Kindering Center and Wonderland. Each of these centers provides services and support for families and little ones with special needs. For students approaching their third birthday, we ensure a smooth transition into our district preschool programs. For students between the ages of 3-5, we have a remarkable team of educators within our early childhood programs. This team includes special education teachers, general education teachers, para-educators, family support specialists, behavior specialists, psychologists, speech therapists, occupational and physical therapists, nurses and many more. These dedicated educators participate in ongoing training and education throughout the school year and during the summer, in order to provide the highest quality programs for our students.

Within our preschool programs, we are in our first year of implementation of a new comprehensive curriculum. Creative Curriculum is a comprehensive, research based early childhood curriculum that encourages exploration and discovery for learning. It provides information to teachers on how to create high quality learning environments and carry-out best practice. Through Creative Curriculum studies, students learn using a hands-on project based investigations. This helps to promote each child’s confidence, creativity and critical thinking and promotes positive outcomes. The curriculum has a strong developmental framework and daily lesson plans that are comprehensive for all areas of development. Additionally, the learning objectives are aligned with the Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines.  

Creative Curriculum has 38 associated learning objectives in the areas of social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, math, science and technology, social studies, the arts and English language acquisition. Staff have received training on this new comprehensive curriculum, aligned to common core and district kindergarten standards. We believe that it will ensure that our students are receiving high quality instruction with rigor, aligned to the standards. Additionally, we have had experts from the University of Washington providing staff training on high leverage instruction and inclusionary practices. I'm excited to say that we are moving towards an inclusionary preschool program for all students and we invite you to learn more about it! Watch your email for information in January regarding the enrollment process for community students and feel free to reach out to our early childhood team for additional information. If you know of a child in the community who may benefit from early intervention services, the number for Childfind is: 425-936-2760

I wish you the best during this busy season. May you enjoy a wonderful time with family and friends~


NEW! – Special Services Newsletter – Available in Multiple Languages!

If you, or someone you know, would like to read our Special Services Newsletter in a different language, this is now possible! 

  • Follow the link for access to all of our newsletters here 
  • Select the month and year that you would like to read (Ex: December 2018, November 2018, etc.)
  • In the top left-hand corner of the web page, there is a small globe icon/drop down
  • Click on the drop down and select the language that you would like to have the newsletter translated to

Happy Reading!

Resources for Parents of Students with Disabilities

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to take a look at the Special Needs Resource Flier, created by the Lake Washington PTSA (LWPTSA) Council Special Needs Group/Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) and the Special Services Department. You can also pick up a hard copy at your child’s school, and/or from your child’s 504 or Special Education Case Manager at your annual review meeting.

Transit Instruction

Looking for ways for a family member, student, or neighbor with disabilities to gain experience with public transportation. Did you know free training is available to individuals with disabilities and senior citizens through King County Metro? Instructors provide training to participants while traveling until they feel comfortable and capable of safe independent travel. To learn more about this program and how to request training, visit King County Metros website, here. Also, check out the flyer on this program, here.

The Arc of King County: IEP Parent Partner Program – Accepting Applications Now!

Do you have experience navigating the special education system, either as a parent, educator, interpreter or student? Would you like to support other families navigating the Special Education system? If so, we’ve got a great program for you!

The Arc of King County’s IEP Parent Partner Program trains volunteers to provide support to other families navigating the system. They are offering a 15-hour volunteer training this fall. In this training, you will learn about Special Education laws, using assessments and evaluations for data-informed decision making, navigating complex situations such as behavior supports and communication and conflict resolution skills. Trained volunteers commit to providing one-on-one support to at least one family over the course of the school year. Volunteers do not provide legal advice and are not professional advocates. Rather, they help families understand their education documentation, develop strategies for family advocacy and provide emotional support at 1-2 school meetings.
The volunteer training is free! Previous volunteers report they learned skills to better support their own child within the Special Education system, as well as felt empowered to support other families.
We are offering this training in English and in Spanish.
The application is available online and via paper. Click here for access to the IEP Parent Partner Job Description and to start your application.
Contact Rachel Nemhauser ( or Patricia Gonzalez ( for questions or to request an application.

Featured Articles

17 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays with your Special Needs Child
With the holiday season upon us, we are in full swing of all the hustle and bustle. It is important to take a step back and enjoy the moments with family and friends. If you are looking for tips on how to make the holiday season extra enjoyable for your child, check out 17 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays with your Special Needs Child. They offer great tips on how to be sensitive to your child’s needs, while also making sure your child is able to experience the magic of the season.

Sensitive Santa is Coming to Town!
If you are looking for a calmer environment for your child to visit a holiday friend, there are now “Sensitive Santas” nearby! Over 400 malls across the country are participating in sensory-friendly experiences with Santa. These participating Santas have been trained to take cues from parents in order to meet the child’s needs, some are able to communicate via American Sign Language, and they all remain flexible to move around to accommodate your child’s needs. To check out the full article on “Sensitive Santas,” click here.

To find a Sensitive Santa near you, click here.

Gym Class for Special Needs Children – Breaking Barriers in Omaha, Nebraska
Don’t have a New Years Resolution yet? There is still time to get inspired! In Omaha, Nebraska, a mother of a child with downs syndrome was inspired to start a new gym class that helps people and children with special needs find a passion for fitness. The class grew and is quickly breaking down barriers and building confidence for children. To watch the full video, click here.

PTSA SNG Meetings and Child Care Support

Our monthly PTSA SNG meeting (see schedule below) is a great time to network with other parents, learn more about resources in our community and learn more about strategies and supports for students with disabilities. We are now offering student care during these meetings to assist you in being able to access this wonderful opportunity to meet with parents. Please RSVP each month by emailing For our Januarymeeting, please RSVP by/before January 8. In your email, please include the age of your child, so we can ensure we have enough staff to cover all the students. The Special Services Director and Associate Directors participate in a meet and greet before each meeting at 6:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Upcoming LWPTSA Council Special Needs Group Meetings

Date: 1/15/2019
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Location: LWSD Resource Center – Board Room (1st Floor)
                16250 NE 74th St
                Redmond, WA 98052
Topic: Screening of documentary Intelligent Lives by Dan Habib. Click here for more information.

Save the Date: Mark your calendar for the 2018-19 PTSA Special Needs Group Meetings

  • 2/26/2019
  • 3/19/2019
  • 4/16/2019
  • 5/21/2019
  • No Meeting in June