September 2019

Welcome back! Message from the Special Services Director – Dr. Shannon Hitch

Dr. Shannon Hitch

Welcome back to school! The first day of school is always full of excitement and anticipation. I’m excited to be out in our schools this week. I love seeing all the classrooms – decorated and ready for learning. From the elementary classroom with primary colors and spelling posters to the high school spaces with college banners, students are ready to learn, and we are ready to teach them.

This year, we are welcoming some new team members in Special Services. I would like to introduce you to our new Associate Director of Early Learning, Kim Brenner and Associate Director of Special Services, Michelle Tiegs. I am delighted to welcome them on board and they have been hard at work this summer. Kim was previously an elementary/preschool principal in Everett School District and prior to that, a special education teacher. Michelle is a former middle school special education teacher and special education administrator from Fife School District. Our department has re-organized this year with our new team members and to work in alignment with our general education partners. For your reference:

Eastlake and Redmond Elementary Schools: Michelle Tiegs


Eastlake and Redmond Secondary Schools: Stacey McCrath


Juanita and Lk WA Elementary Schools: Debbie Wagner


Juanita and Lk WA Elementary Schools: Paul Vine


Early Learning: Kim Brenner


In addition to our new Associate Directors, we welcomed new program specialists as well. Program specialists are highly skilled, experienced teachers and psychologists who provide support to school teams. We also have hired one of two new mental health positions for the district. These therapists will be supporting our Intervention Programs, providing individual and group therapy. This will add a much-needed therapeutic element to our specialized programs for students with mental health or behavior needs.

Speaking of back to school, we had an amazing professional development day for all our special education teachers, therapists and psychologists last week. During this full day training, staff learned about strength-based IEPs, tips and strategies to support students with mental health needs and promoting positive parent engagement through IEP meetings. There was a lot of laughter and learning and I couldn’t be more excited about this incredible group of special educators. Your children are in good hands.

Finally, I would like to invite you to the first meeting for our PTA Special Needs Group on September 17th. All parents and guardians are welcome, whether this is your first year in our district or your last. We’ll be sharing our work from last year and our direction for the year ahead. So, whether this is your very first day of school with your little one, or the last first day of school for your high school senior, or somewhere in between, I wish you a year full of happiness, growth and learning.

Dr. Shannon Hitch
Director – Special Services


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!


Featured Articles

Amazon finds alternative workforce through Northwest Center

Northwest Center, a Seattle nonprofit helping people with disabilities, has partnered with Amazon and has helped Amazon begin a much broader hiring initiative. Within the past two years, across at least nine states, several hundred people with a disability have been hired because of this. 

The national unemployment rate for people with a disability is about double the rate of the broader working population. However, this new model that Northwest Center and Amazon have helped develop has potential to demonstrate to other businesses a group of people that has been overlooked in the past. 

To read the full article, click here.


30-Year-Old Man with Special Needs Gets First Birthday Party Ever

Chris Barrington’s father recently passed away, leaving Chris alone with no other family to help care for him. When Chris was found wandering the highway in Texas, the only name he could recall was a former middle school teacher, Michell Girard, who had clearly made a positive impact on Chris. 

Growing up, Chris’ family did not celebrate holidays or birthdays. Girard stated that “this year is going to be full of firsts.” 

To read the full article, click here.


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!

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 offer 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 September meeting, please RSVP by/before September 12th. In your email, please include your child’s name(s), age(s) and any significant behavior notes so we can ensure we have enough staff to cover all the students. Please use the email subject line: Childcare at PTSA meeting. 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: 9/17/2019
Time: 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Location: LWSD Resource Center – Board Room (1st Floor)
                 16250 NE 74th St
                 Redmond, WA 98052
Topic: Join the LWPTSA SNG and The Special Services Department as we kick off the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year! The Special Services Department will be presenting updates and exciting work that will be continued into the school year. You won’t want to miss it! 

Save the Date: Mark your calendar for the 2019-20 PTSA Special Needs Group Meetings:

*All meetings are 7:00-8:30pm

Networking Time: 6:30-7:00- Parent networking and opportunity to meet Director of Special Services, Dr. Shannon Hitch and Associate Directors. 

  • Tuesday, 9/17/2019
  • Tuesday, 10/15/2019
  • Tuesday, 11/19/2019
  • No Meeting in December 2019
  • Tuesday, 1/21/2020
  • Tuesday, 2/25/2020 (Resource Fair)
  • Tuesday, 3/17/2020
  • Tuesday, 4/21/2020
  • Tuesday, 5/19/2020
  • No Meeting in June 2020