SSD/Valley Park Monthly Dispatch

March 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 our caring social worker, Dana Evans, and our innovative physical therapist, Jean Hantak.

Dana and Jean - you have both served our VP students, families, and community for a long time! The impact you have had is priceless. Thank you for believing in each student you work with (and have worked with).

Dana Evans

· Education: I have a Master’s degree in Social Work from University of Missouri-St. Louis, and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

· Professional Background/ roles and jobs you would want highlighted: This is my 12th school year at Valley Park. I spent six years as a Child, Youth and Family Therapist with Youth In Need, and transitioned to my current role in 2016. I previously worked for organizations serving foster youth and children with disabilities.

· Information about family/pets you would like shared: I am married and have two boys, ages 10 and 7. You typically can find us scooting around to soccer games, chasing our puppy, making music, or devouring chips and salsa.

· What is your favorite part of being a SSD team member in Valley Park? Our small team and close proximity means that we can collaborate across campus and celebrate the strengths and successes of our students through every educational milestone. Our team is talented, dedicated and FUN!

Jean Hantak

(her picture says it all - she is demonstrating reflexes during virtual last year!!)


· Physical Therapy Degree - University of Missouri – Columbia

· Master - Computer Education: Fontbonne

Professional Background: a variety of settings including hospitals, home health, Neonatal Intensive Care, School Setting, and Early Intervention

· Also served as a Director of Clinical Education that allowed travel experiences across the country.

· Currently school setting for 26 years, also First Steps - the early intervention program for 0-3 years of age

Family: two children and 2 dogs (or rather 1 and an inherited dog from my son due to the dog's motion sickness and inability to travel)

Limitless Learning: "The ability for children and adults to always function as a student and continue to improve and try/learn new things, and the ability to be open to new methods of learning"

Favorite part of being a part of the VP team: the respect that we have for each other and the freedom to suggest and implement new programs to help students.

Highlight of my career: 2 highlights:

· being part of the team that assists an infant learn to crawl and take their first steps or that first "jump"

· The work I do at VP - provide fun ways to assist with neurological development that also assists with cognitive/academic improvement

Past hobby: flying - obtained my private pilot's license while in college and shortly after

Current hobbies: reading, crochet, scrapbooking, travel

SSD Parent Education (PEDA):


Get tips and tricks to making this your child’s best summer yet.

To access The Summer Resource Packet, click here: PEDA 2022 Summer Resource Packet

To access the YouTube Video of our recent Summer Resource Fair, click here:

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:

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

PEDA would love your feedback!

Please complete are PEDA Communications survey here: PEDA Survey

Wellness Corner - Practicing Screen-time Hygiene

You might have heard the term "sleep hygiene", which means "having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep" according to

The same logic of creating environments, routines, and boundaries to promote health and wellbeing can be applied to those little rectangular devices we are so easily glued to throughout the day: our screens.

Most notably, studies show that excessive screen-time significantly increases the risk for clinical depression in adolescents. Additionally, excessive screen-time increases risks for obesity, insufficient sleep, behavior problems, delays in language and social skills development, violence, and attention problems according to the Mayo Clinic. More recently, experts have found that excessive screen-time also interferes with the development of creativity in young minds.

In light of the harmful risks of too much time on our phones, iPads, computers, and TV's, it is crucial to practice screen-time hygiene and take back control of our kids' mental and physical health, their brain development, and their overall well-being. But if we want our kids to take this seriously, we adults need to take this seriously as well. These practices don't solely benefit kids!

Here are some tips creating healthy screen environments, routines, and boundaries:

· Limit screen time on phones using parental controls or a "screentime passcode" (available on iPhones) to limit how long your child (or yourself!) can use specific apps. This feature can also create "downtimes", such as before / during bedtime, where only essential apps can be accessed.

· Keep screens out of your or your child's bedroom and consider requiring devices be charged in a different room at night.

· Eliminate background TV

· Create tech-free zones or times, such as during mealtime or one night a week.

· Encourage unplugged, unstructured playtime.

In the digitally-crazed world we live in, these types of practices may seem unrealistic. But if we can take one small step in the right direction, we will find that it is not only possible, but liberating.

For more information for screen-time hygiene, please visit:

7 Ways Screen Time Affects Adults - And how to Cope

Screen Time and Children: How to Guide your Child

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. 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)
  3. Youth Mental Health Training for Staff –Kickup registration link:
  4. Youth Mental Health Training for Families – Google link:
  5. Assistance for families who may have challenges accessing the FREE Covid Tests FREE At-Home COVID Test (flyer attached too)

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

Now Hiring Substitute Teachers

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:

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