Message from the Special Services Director – Dr. Shannon Hitch
In order to truly teach our students, we must be willing to learn from them. Only they can tell us where they would like their journey to take them beyond school, and that is essential information if we are to do the important work of successfully inspiring and equipping them for what lies ahead. By inviting and encouraging their voices, and being open to what they have to say, educators create a community of collaborative learners.
Student Voice: The Instrument of Change by Russell Quaglia and Michael Corso
The past few weeks have been some of my most enjoyable since I began my tenure here in LWSD. I have taken the opportunity to visit all our high schools to talk with students receiving special education services. These small group sessions have allowed me to spend some much-needed time with students while at the same time, informing me of their perceptions on special education services. Students have been welcoming, friendly and engaging. Most of them have strong opinions on what has worked for them and what hasn’t over their educational careers and they articulate their thoughts with wisdom and humor. Students had thoughtful questions and valuable insights, many of which will help me in future development of programs and services.
I am in awe of all that our high school students are accomplishing. They are taking 7 periods of classes – many of which are much more challenging and demanding than what I experienced in school. They are up early and working long hours at school, only to leave and start working part time jobs. Some are responsible for siblings after school or are involved in sports or extracurricular activities. Many spend their evenings doing homework. Students are thinking and planning for their futures, looking at colleges and vocational programs and worrying about life after high school. They are navigating relationships, teachers, assessments – all while working much harder than their peers because they struggle with a disability. And yet – when some random person from central office walks in to their class, they give their attention and answer questions with humor and grace. I’m so lucky to work for these students.
I encourage those of you that are parents or guardians or teachers, take a moment to let the student in your life know that they are amazing. Let them know that you are impressed with their ability to juggle all these pieces and that you will be there for them if any of those pieces fall. And take a moment to listen to what they have to say – you will be thankful you did.
Support for Families
If you are looking for support, further knowledge on how to help your student, or are new to the special services programs and want to learn more about what to expect at all ages, we have got an incredible resource for you. Informing Families, Building Trust is full of invaluable information that will lay out how to navigate through multiple systems, provide helpful resources for grandparents or siblings of children with special needs, as well as sharing some emergency preparedness tips. This website is definitely one to explore!
ABLE Savings Plan
The Washington state ABLE savings account allows people with disabilities to save tax-free for living expenses without jeopardizing eligibility for federal aid programs. "This is a groundbreaking program," says the mother of one participant.
African American IEP Parent Partner Volunteer Training!
The Arc is offering a 5-part training series for African American families to help them better understand and navigate the special education system for their own child as well as to serve as volunteer “mentor” for other parents with similar children. This training is specifically for African American parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, etc.
Community Summit 2019: Enriching Lives
DSHS Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) is pleased to announce registration is now open for Community Summit 2019: Enriching Lives!
June 11 - 13, 2019
Wenatchee Convention Center, Wenatchee
The Community Summit 2019 brings together individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as self-advocates, families, educators, community leaders, non-profit agencies, and government organizers. The purpose of the summit is to discuss building inclusive communities where all individuals are valued for their unique contributions.
Engaging keynote speakers, informational sessions, workshops, discussion panels and fun social events make attending this much-anticipated conference a rewarding experience. We invite you to immerse yourself in three days of learning, collaborating and connecting for personal and professional growth.
School resource officer soothes young girl with a song
Transitions can be hard for many students. Chris Morrison, a resource officer at a middle school in Santa Rosa, California, recognized this scenario play out as one young girl had a very difficult time transitioning from the hallway to outside. Morrison happened to be walking by and stopped to help not only calm the student down but bring a smile to her face as well, while singing Kermit’s 1997 song, “Rainbow Connection.”
To read the whole story and watch the video, click here.
Dolls with differences giving kids a boost
Amy Jandrisevits worked as a pediatric hospital social worker and often used dolls as examples of what would occur during surgeries or treatments. However, Jandrisevits didn’t like how all the dolls that she used as demonstrations were flawless and didn’t resemble the children and what they might be facing, whether it be chemotherapy, burn treatment, amputations, or something along those lines.
In 2015, Jandrisevits made her first doll, requested by a friend for her daughter who identifies as a boy. From there, orders from parents all around the world came in in hopes of finding dolls that their children could relate to.
Read the whole story and see photos of some of Jandrisevits beautiful creations.
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.
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!
- Access 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
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 email@example.com. For our April meeting, please RSVP by/before April 9th. 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:
Location: LWSD Resource Center – Board Room (1st Floor)
16250 NE 74th St
Redmond, WA 98052
Topic: Healthy relationships team from Arc of King County will speak on relationships, safety and sexuality
Save the Date. Mark your calendar for the 2018-2019 PTSA Special Needs Group Meetings:
- 5/21/2019 (Last meeting of 2018-2019 school year!)
- No Meeting in June