Welcome to the 21-22 School Year


What an honor to center in our shared work with Dr. Paula Kluth this past week. Thank you for so many of you who were able to join us. We have really enjoyed hearing from so many of our colleagues about what resonated with them. A couple of themes of rejuvenation and resonance have emerged around the research, presuming competence, grounding in UDL, and specific strategies (4-3-2-1!).

I was particularly captured by the discussion around presuming competence. In particular, Dr. Kluth focused on how history tells a narrative that demands this call to action. She expertly described the experience of students who were identified with a disability in 1975 through the Education of Handicapped Children Act to the academically focused revision of 1990. Yet, by 1990 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act included a focus on academic engagement and access. Why the change!? Because over those 15 years from 1975 to 1990, we learned that students who experienced disabilities were LEARNING in the classroom. It was the structures and beliefs that needed to shift.

This presumption of competence and unwavering belief in capacity has been a theme of my summer reading. At the very beginning of the summer Principal Meg Leonard lent me a book (I will return it!) called Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. The book chronicles a young student's journey in finding her voice with an AAC device and being able to share with her peers and her family her world. I was able to share the book with a close family friend, Stella - an incoming 5th grader. Together we were able to talk about the student's strengths and areas that she overcame to share her gifts with the world. This little book club with a young growing mind has flourished over the summer. Stella now finds and shares books with me. Most recently we read Roll with it and are starting another book about a group of students in a self-contained classroom building their relationship with their teacher and peers. This relationship has been the gift of my summer, being able to share, discuss, and reflect with Stella has been so rewarding for myself and I believe is creating a compassionate young learner who believes in all of her peers.

This theme of presuming competence was brought forward earlier this month by one of our new fabulous learning specialists at Boones Ferry Primary School, Christa Weiler. She shared a recent text she had been reading Underestimated: An Autism Miracle. The book (I am still in the middle of) shares the path for a young man and his family in finding his voice and unlocking who he is. As they find his voice, his dad shares, "I find myself seeing Jamie in an entirely new light, right before my eyes. He’s sitting there, listening, taking everything in, and he looks extremely content, . . . like [he] is telling me something that he’s known all along."

This is the work that we do. We hold belief. We are unwavering. We are collaborative. We are deep listeners. We are partners. We are flexible.

Dr. Kluth asked us to reflect on this question:

If you find out a student is more capable than you realized - what would you wish you had taught them? How would you have supported them differently.

It is with such gratitude that we are able to reflect on our kick off event together. For each of us who had the opportunity to join this event, please share what resonated and was rejuvenating for you with a colleague. Thank you for being the educator that you are.

Click Here for Student Services School Year Guidance

We heard your questions at our Kick Off Event and have drafted a place to share current guidance. As questions are raised, or new guidance is shared, we will continue to update this link. Click on the gold banner to navigate to the guidance.

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Inclusive Transportation Pilot & Specialized Transportation Guidance

Inclusive School Buses that Optimize Efficiency

Student’s school busses might look a little different than years past. That’s because the school district, in partnership with First Student Bus Company, has reorganized bus routes to make the school bus experience inclusive for all students while maximizing ridership and improving efficiency of routes to minimize the amount of time it takes to get to and from school.

For some students, that means they will ride a bus historically reserved for students who need medical accommodations and specialized bus services. These buses are smaller in size with special equipment to aid students who need help getting on and off the bus. Just like the classroom, students of all abilities will ride every type of bus together this school year. This change aligns with school district beliefs while optimizing bus routes for increased efficiency. It also cuts down on the number of bus routes required.

Specialized Transportation Guidance

The goal of specialized transportation is always to move students toward greater independence and inclusion in all parts of their school experience.

Adding Transportation as a Related Service is an IEP team decision. The team should carefully reconsider the need for transportation at each annual IEP meeting.
IEP teams must consider each situation individually and discuss the unique needs of that particular student. Here are key areas that the IEP team should consider, looking for significant concerns in one or more areas:

  • Level of Independence
  • Safety Concerns
  • Mobility Concerns
  • Sensory Concerns

Please check out our Student Services Handbook for more guidance on considering specialized transportation as a related service with a student's IEP team.

Care and Connection on Tuesday

You are all moving very quickly prior to the start of school. Your work is deep, important, and timely. Your buildings will be spending the day together on Tuesday supporting Care and Connection and centering in supporting each other and our community as we return to school. For our intinterant colleagues who are in multiple buildings, if you are able, please consider joining one of your buildings for all or some of the day.

Case Management Lists

You have, no doubt, been deep in epep this past week. If you do not see a student in your epep list that you expected to see, please contact Maria Swanson (swansonm@wlwv.k12.or.us). She will help ensure the student is visible for the right team members to collaborate. Thank you for carefully attending to students you are planning for as a school team and cross checking your epep list!
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Check out these beautiful reflections from last year

Click on this gold banner to view the reflections and celebrations of our students, educators, and families resilience, perseverance and commitment to creating meaningful educational opportunities.