SSD/Valley Park Monthly Dispatch

February 2022

Staff Spotlight

We will continue to celebrate some of our amazing team members each month! I have asked them to share some of their professional and personal highlights. This month, we are celebrating Cathy Hammerman (she recently announced her retirement).

Cathy - it has been an honor to work with you the past nine years. Thank you for your dedication to the profession and to Valley Park! YOU WILL BE MISSED!

Cathy Hammerman

I graduated with a BA from Harris Stowe Teachers College with a minor in Special Education focusing on the Intellectually Handicapped, Emotionally Disturbed and Learning Disabled.

I received my MA from Lindenwood University in Elementary Education with an additional 30 hours of school counseling credits because I thought I would switch my field to School Counseling. Even though that didn’t happen the extra credits proved helpful to me in my personal as well as professional life.

I began my teaching career with the Archdiocese of St. Louis as an elementary classroom teacher in grades 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th. I left the Archdiocese after seven years and began teaching in the city for the St. Louis Board of Education. I taught 3rd grade in the city for 7 years. My time spent in the city schools was invaluable.

I began teaching for Special School District at Valley Park Elementary School 23 years ago. I’ve worked under 5 different administrators and would have to say Dr. Monroe ranks as one of the best. She has been nothing but supportive and encouraging to me and my students.

My students over the last 23 years have taught me more about teaching than any educational institutions could. They’ve taught me that teaching isn’t about subjects. It’s about building relationships. Reading will always be reading; math will always be math. The curriculum to teach them may change names but the outcome is the same. We read and solve number problems. If you can’t build relationships what good are math and reading to your future. Everyone deserves a future. Everyone deserves one person they can talk to and rely on. One person that lets them know they’re worthy of love and acceptance. I hope that person was me for my students. I’ve believed in each and every one of them over the years and I hope they remember me for that. I’m ok with them not remembering my reading or math lessons. I hope they remember that someone asked them every day how their night was or if they were sad or mad helped them work through their feelings. As my teaching career at Valley Park comes to an end my hope is that what I’ve done for my students they will do for others. They will be change makers and there’s nothing more rewarding than that.

Wellness Corner

Self-awareness and social-awareness are two core competencies that make up social-emotional learning – which goes hand in hand with wellness. When we foster knowledge of ourselves and others, we can acquire skills to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, show empathy, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Working toward cultural competency is a valuable goal for the well-being of ourselves and our community. This Black History Month, and throughout the year, we invite you to explore resources for teaching your family about the important contributions and experiences of our diverse community.

For tips on how to honor and celebrate, visit Teaching Your Child About Black History |… | PBS KIDS for Parents

SSD Staff Awards

Applications for awards which honor the contributions of SSD staff and community members are awaiting nominations, due Feb. 7, 2022. Please encourage your staff, students, school parents and community partners to submit nominations to ensure they are recognized for their meaningful work in SSD.

For more information, please contact Deana Parsons, internal communications coordinator, at or 314.989.8102.

Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP)

Through the program, students hold a summer job in their community and receive job-coaching support. They are paid an hourly wage for their work. SWEP is funded by the Productive Living Board of St. Louis County and is open to county residents with a qualifying disability. It is conducted through a collaboration of six area agencies - MERS/Goodwill is the Lead Agency.

A few important things to remember about eligibility for the SWEP program:

  • You must be a resident of St. Louis County.
  • You must be between 16 and 20 years of age and planning to return to a school program in the Fall of 2022.
  • You cannot participate in SWEP while participating in the Extended School Year Program.
  • Your teacher needs to submit a Teacher Input form before the program begins.
  • You must be available for the entire 8 weeks of the program.
  • You must have your own transportation to participate in the program.
  • Not everyone who applies to the SWEP program will be able to participate this summer.

If your student is interested, please reach out to their case manager for the application OR download the application that is attached below ~

Family and Community Outreach

The mission of SSD's Family & Community Outreach division is to partner with families for each student’s academic, social, and emotional success so that students may attain an enviable life. Please see below for key resources:

  1. The Family Resource Hub – 1 min. video highlighting the features and an attached flyer. Family Resource Hub Virtual Grand Opening
  2. Variety Club – Free Camp Opportunities – Enrollment ends on 2.7.2022 Variety The Children’s Charity Camp Flyer (flyer attached too)
  3. Recreation Council Flyer – Summer Program Guides available on 1.21.22 The Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis Summer Program Guide Announcement (flyer attached too)
  4. Youth Mental Health Training for Staff –Kickup registration link:
  5. Youth Mental Health Training for Families – Google link:
  6. Assistance for families who may have challenges accessing the FREE Covid Tests FREE At-Home COVID Test (flyer attached too)

SSD Parent Education (PEDA):

Parent Leadership Institute will be held via ZOOM

If you have always wanted to participate but life made it too hard to get away from home, NOW IS THE TIME TO ENROLL!!!

If you are a parent or family member who makes the educational decisions for a child with a disability, investing the time to attend these four Wednesday evening sessions will provide:

Vision for the future of your child.

Knowledge to help you to effectively participate in your child’s education.

Leadership skills to improve the educational climate for all children.

Access to new resources, friends and experts to help you on your journey.

The Institute will be held on Wednesdays from 6:00 pm-8:00 p.m. on February 16, March 2, 9, and 16, via zoom.

Learn more about this opportunity or download the application at: Parent Leadership Institute

Virtual Workshop: Meeting your child's needs using Charting the LifeCourse Tools in the IEP process:

When: Tue, March 15, 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Description: Your child’s school Individual Education Plan (IEP) can be intimidating and overwhelming at times. Find out how to utilize LifeCourse Tools to help prepare and communicate effectively with your child’s IEP team to determine the most successful goals and interventions to help your child reach their potential.

To register for this workshop, click here:

PEDA would love your feedback!

Please complete are PEDA Communications survey here: PEDA Survey

Family and Community Engagement Information:

Mental Health First Aid Training for SSD Families:

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, and others to help adolescents experiencing mental health and/or addictions challenge or crisis. It is designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

Nationally this course is valued at $170; due to a grant from Missouri's Department of Mental Health and a collaboration with the Ferguson Community Center, you have the opportunity to attend at no cost.

Saturday, March 19th from 9 – 1:30 PM at Ferguson Community Center. 1050 Smith Ave, Ferguson, MO 63135

Space is limited. To register click here. Registration will close on Monday, March 7th or when all seats are filled.

The Family Resource Hub located at North Tech High School is a space dedicated to families and our community stakeholders. The resource hub offers families computer and internet access, a satellite food pantry, and support navigating community resources. The space is also dedicated to supporting families by hosting learning labs, community events, and a safe and supportive environment to learn with and from one another.

You’re welcome to set an appointment to meet us there.

Please call 314-989-8311 or email

Virtual Lunch & Learn series for SSD families and stakeholders

Special School District’s Family and Community Outreach, Social Work, Parent Education and Diversity Awareness (PEDA) and Communications departments have teamed up to offer a virtual Lunch & Learn series for SSD families and stakeholders.

The series, which will involve community organizations sharing information about their work, will take place on the first Wednesday of each month during the 2021-22 school year, from 11:30 AM - Noon.

Representatives from nine community organizations will participate in order to increase awareness about their agency and make connections with those in our SSD community who may benefit from their programs and services.

Organizations represented in the Lunch & Learn series include:

SSD PAC New/Renewal of Membership Self-Nomination Forms information:

Hello, SSD PAC members and potential members! We are approaching that time of year when we prepare to hold elections and renew membership. Nomination is through self-nomination. The self-nomination form is available to all parents of students receiving services through SSD.

Per the SSD PAC Bylaws, potential members must consent to make their names and contact information

available to the public. Notices requesting self-nomination forms shall be received by parents no later than

January 10th. Completed nomination forms must be returned to the Executive Committee no later than

February 15th. The election of new/renewal of SSD PAC members shall take place no later than May 31st. We will hold the election at the April 13th General Meeting.

Elections are rotated each year. The following districts will hold elections in even numbered years: Affton, Bayless, Brentwood, Clayton, Ferguson-Florissant, Hancock Place, Ladue, Mehlville, Normandy, Rockwood, University City and Valley Park.

Please complete and submit the self-nomination form linked above ASAP. Please note that even if you recently submitted a self-nomination form and were elected as a member of the SSD PAC, but are in a district that has an election in even numbered years, you will need to submit another self-nomination form. Please reach out to us at with any questions.

Love and Light,

Dr. Camesha Carter, SSD PAC President

VP Upcoming Events

Valley Park Families! As you plan for this school year - here is the calendar. Click in to to see all the important dates for your hawk! As always, dates are subject to change. #VPPride

VP: To access key school information, please go to the following sites:

Valley Park Elementary School:

Valley Park Middle School:

Valley Park High School:

Valley Park Early Childhood Center:

Message to Families - from Valley Park

One Community. One Campus. Limitless Learning.

The Valley Park School District is dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment of belonging where personalized learning experiences prepare our students holistically for limitless opportunities, empowering them to make the world a better place.

Please keep up to date with Dr. Dilg's communications in regards to our Return to Learn Plan:

Contact Us

Special School District of St. Louis County

12110 Clayton Road

Town & Country, MO 63131

Phone: 314‐989‐8100

Julie Schroeder

Dana Evans

Christy Mirth

SSD Valley Park Feedback

Families - we want to hear from you! If you have a celebration, concern, or idea for our SSD team - please add it to this survey. I will do my best to consider all feedback ~

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Health and Wellness