SSD/Parkway Newsletter

November 2021

Dear Parkway Families,

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I can’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for this opportunity to serve the Parkway Community. Parkway has always been home to me as I myself was a student from kindergarten – high school graduation. After receiving my degree in education, I returned to St. Louis and applied with The Special School District of St. Louis County and was thrilled to be hired and placed back in Parkway as an educator. To be able to give back to the district and community that helped shape who I am as a person has been an honor. While every year provides some challenges that help us grow and stretch as individuals, I think we can all agree that we’ve faced some unique challenges over the past year and a half. I am grateful for the educators that have learned how to teach virtually, to revamp their educational strategies to support the profile of the current learner, and who devote their time and passion to figuring out ways to best reach all learners. I’m thankful for the staff that have been flexible with all of the changes that have taken place in the past few years. I’m thankful for the Special Education Coordinators that have stepped into buildings and classrooms to support the incredibly talented teachers, related service providers, and paraprofessionals when we have found ourselves short-staffed. I’m thankful for the families that partner with us and encourage us. Each day you entrust us to educate your students. You allow us the opportunity to push them to be the best versions of themselves. Thank you for taking an active role in your student’s education, and most importantly, thank you for allowing us to walk this journey with you.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve elicited the help of our staff, our Parkway partners, and the families within our community to help us identify and recruit staff members to fill some of our vacancies within the Parkway District. I shared at the start of October that we’d recently seen an increase in filling our current vacancies, and am excited to share that this month has continued that positive trend of identifying, recruiting, and hiring staff! In the past two weeks, we’ve welcomed four new paraprofessionals into our schools. We’ve recommended seven more staff that have been board approved and are going through the final steps to be able to begin their work in the buildings. Six more candidates are set to go to our next board meeting on November 9th. It truly takes a village to make positive changes, and Parkway has rallied around us. To each of you that has encouraged your contacts to apply to the district and to be a part of ensuring that all of our students have the most caring, compassionate, and committed staff supporting their growth, thank you. We are still looking to add to our team and fill our vacancies, so I ask that you keep doing what you’re doing! If you know of a potential candidate that would be a good fit, please encourage them to apply for the Paraprofessional opening listed on the SSD Website. Please share the name of the potential employee you are recommending with the Special Education Coordinator assigned to your student’s school.

Thank you for partnering with us. On behalf of the entire Special Education team within Parkway, we are grateful for each of you.

In collaboration,

Dr. Amy Blumenfeld

Director of Special Education

314-989-8435 /

314-415-5297 /

SSD Student Scholarship Deadline Approaching!

Many opportunities for scholarships and awards are now open for SSD students! SSD scholarship applications for graduating high school seniors are active and due Dec. 17, 2021. Students applying for The James E. Westbury/SSD Board of Education Scholarship, The Allison M. Haake Memorial Scholarship, or The Bonhomme Lions Club Scholarship must receive at least one service from SSD and plan to go to a college, university, or postsecondary program. All scholarships require a letter of recommendation. Visit for more information.

The Special Education Foundation (SEF) sponsors the John Cary Scholarships for high school seniors, as well. Applications are due Jan. 24, 2022.

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

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PEDA has several workshops scheduled for November. These include:

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders Two Part Series

Session 1 | November 8

Session 2 | November 15

6:30 PM

Identify and understand the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders and learn effective and practical strategies that will support your child’s success at home and school. The second session will focus on strategies. Both sessions will have time for discussion and questions.

Presenter: John Bruno, Ph.D., SSD Autism Effective Practice Specialist

November 8th Zoom Meeting Information

Meeting ID: 967 6121 6696
Passcode: 701664

November 15th Zoom Meeting Information

Meeting ID: 982 8634 6135
Passcode: 103277

Introduction to Charting the LifeCourse

(Workshop in Collaboration with St. Louis ARC)

November 18, 2021

6:30 PM

Charting the LifeCourse (CtLC) is a set of eight principles developed to support people with IDD and their families so they can have their best lives. In this workshop, we will learn about the CtLC principles and work together to create planning and problem-solving tools. Participants will also receive updates about LifeCourse Connect Missouri, which is a new online platform that can be used by individuals and family members to access tools. This workshop is for everyone but especially self-advocates, families, and support staff.

Presenters: Sharon Spurlock, Director of Family Support, St. Louis Arc and Debra Fiasco, Administrator, Parent Education and Diversity Awareness, Special School District

Zoom Webinar Registration:

PEDA is happy to announce that we are taking applications for our Spring Parent Leadership Institute (PLI). PLI will occur over 4 evenings in February and March. You can learn more and download the application here: Parent Leadership Institute

Finally, PEDA would love your feedback! Please complete are PEDA Communications survey here: PEDA Survey


Home internet access is important for student success, whether learning in-person or at home. To provide all families with the opportunity to access the internet, the FCC has launched a temporary program, Emergency Broadband Benefit, to help families struggling to afford internet service. The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible families and households who are struggling to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible households can also receive a discount of up to $100 for the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. For more info, please visit:

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Networking is an essential component of parent advocacy. PACCD meetings provide parents the chance to ask questions and share information that benefits both students and families. We look forward to seeing you at our November 16th meeting! Please email to register for the upcoming meeting.


Laura Hoff

PACCD President

Let's Talk!

Let’s Talk is an open invitation from Special School District (SSD) to tell us what’s on your mind. ​Let’s Talk is an easy way to submit feedback at your convenience directly to the SSD staff member who can help.


November 8: SSD Autism Spectrum Disorder Workshop Part 1 6:30 pm

November 9: SSD Board of Education Business Meeting 5:45 pm

November 10: SSD Parent Advisory Council (PAC) Meeting 7 pm

November 11: Veteran’s Day (Check Parkway social media accounts for highlights of the ways the schools honor this day.)

November 15: SSD Autism Spectrum Disorder Workshop Part 2 6:30 pm

November 17: Parkway Board of Education Meeting 7 pm

November 18: SSD Charting the LifeCourse 6:30 pm

December 15: Parkway Board of Education Meeting 7 pm

Special School District of St. Louis County

Amy Blumenfeld, Director of Special Education