SSD/Valley Park Monthly Dispatch

April 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 2 of our wonderful paraprofessionals: Cathy Goldstein and Jill Payton!

Jill, you are a gift to our students, staff, and community. Thank you for balancing care and compassion with high expectations.

Cathy, your sense of calm is such an important part of your role. Thank you for balancing that with academic and SEL supports for our students.

Jill Payton

My education experience was at University of Boston (satellite school in Germany), Georgia State, and University of Phoenix.

My Professional Background for SSD is as a paraprofessional that is trained to provide a positive and nurturing guide for students and attend to their physical, personal, academic, and emotional needs, as well as help teachers give support for our students.

My pet is our Schnauzer Savvy. My family consists of 8 siblings. The patriarch of my family is my dad. I cannot say enough about him. He is a part of my heartbeat. He is constant, dependable, and hardworking. He is the foundation on which I am built. I love my dad.

My definition of Limitless Learning is growth by learning together, from one another, from being creative in your environment and beyond. Every day we all experience limitless learning from many sources throughout life.

I am honored to say that I work for SSD. I truly enjoy getting up to work with students with special needs. I love figuring out ways for students to have that understanding which may be difficult for them.

The highlight of my career: I enjoy having not done one thing repeatedly, but I have worked with students such as military, Pre-K and now Special needs students for the last 35 years. I have taught in Illinois, Colorado, Germany, Belgium, Atlanta, and now for SSD in St. Louis.

Education is my passion and Real Estate Investor is my hobby, and they both have one thing in common “Seeing Change and Growth.” I enjoy sports of all kinds, but softball is my sport of choice. While in Europe I was on a Semi – pro Fast pitch softball team.

Cathy Goldstein

I graduated from Washington University with a major in sociology and an MSW in social work.

I began working for SSD at Valley Park several years ago. It has been a very positive experience to work closely with our students and to help them meet their goals. I particularly appreciate the opportunity to develop relationships with them that allow me to help them feel good about themselves and their achievements. Also, I appreciate greatly the assistance of my coworkers, Cathy and Karen, who have given me the opportunity to learn from their experience. That has been invaluable.

Fontbonne Summer Camp

See the attached flyer regarding the summer camp for school-age kids at Fontbonne. Contact info is on the flyer.

Social-Emotional Learning Resources

SSD has compiled a list of book and web resources for families surrounding social-emotional learning and trauma-informed practices. Families can play a dual role in raising self-aware, respectful students who know how to manage their emotions, make responsible decisions, and resolve conflicts non-violently.

View the resources on the District website:

Big picture

2021-2022 Parent Special Education Survey

Dear Families, DESE has extended the window for the Parent Survey. IF you have not filled out yet, please see below ~

Dear Families,

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has contracted with the University of Missouri’s Institute of Public Policy to conduct the 2021-2022 Parent Special Education Survey required for federal reporting. Below are the steps to access this survey. If you need a paper copy with an stamped return envelope, please let me know. Thanks in advance for completing.

Dear Parent,

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education values the opinions of all parents in Missouri’s schools. We would appreciate you taking the time to respond to this brief survey about the special education services your child receives. This survey is confidential; your individual responses are not shared with the school district or anyone else. Only a summary of all responses is provided to school districts in order to help all schools improve education for our children. You may complete this survey in either of two ways; (1) online, or (2) by completing the items below and mailing the survey to the address provided.

Please complete this survey by April 29. Thank you very much for providing your input.

(1) Online: Go to and enter the following Access Code: WEJVNK. If you complete the online survey, please do not mail the questionnaire.

(2) Mail: You may answer the following questions and mail this document to the following address:

Special Education Survey University of Missouri - Institute of Public Policy

137 Middlebush Hall

Columbia, MO 65211

SSD Parent Education (PEDA):

Join us for our upcoming workshop:

Understanding the Autism Spectrum Disorders: Two Part Class with Dr. John Bruno Autism Effective Practice Specialist

April 14th and 21st 6-8pm

Identify and understand the characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders and learn effective, practical strategies that will support your child in being more successful at home and school.

The second session will focus more on strategies, with time for discussion and questions.

Click the following link to register for this event:

Congratulations to our Spring 21-22 Parent Leadership Institute (PLI) graduates!!!

If you are interested in participating in a future PLI email us at


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:

PEDA would love your feedback!

Please complete are PEDA Communications survey here: PEDA Survey

Wellness Corner

During stressful times, it is extremely important for us to take care of ourselves. Deep breathing can be a wonderful method to enhance our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The added bonus is that deep breathing can be performed practically anywhere at any time without the need for any special materials or equipment. If you’d like to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, and improve your cognitive focus, you may want to practice these three simple breathing techniques:

Belly Breathing:

While sitting, with one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. Exhale slowly through pursed lips. Initially repeat 3 times. You can work up to 6-10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 2-3 minutes.

Box Breathing:

This exercise involves breathing in through the nose for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four, breathing out slowly for a count of four, and then holding for another count of four, essentially making a “square” or “box” with the breath.

4-7-8 Breathing:

This technique involves breathing in through the nose for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven, and exhaling through the lips for a count of eight.

While we often take breathing for granted, it’s important to take the time to appreciate every inhale and exhale we take. Slowing our breath is a way to slow down the world around us and improve our physical health as well as our mental health. So, breathe deep…the power to change your life is already inside you!

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:

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 ~

Big picture

Health and Wellness