Exceptional Education Newsletter

RPS January 2023


  • Compliance Corner
  • Message from the Behavior Analysts
  • Assistive Technology Tip of the Month
  • Message from Transition Mentor Teachers
  • SEAC
  • Professional Development Opportunities
  • Shout outs
  • Previous Issues


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All students must have a Case Manager assigned. If you have a student in the initial eligibility process, assign yourself (the ICC) as the case manager until the process has been completed.

Please ensure that your System Operators have updated all students in ASPEN that have graduated, transferred out of the district, or no longer qualify for services. All students must have a compliant IEP and eligibility!

Continue to work on obtaining parents' signatures to finalize and ensure that the IEP and eligibility process is compliant. Services in the current IEP can only be provided once the parent has consented.


The January ICC meetings have been rescheduled to the following dates:

Please plan to attend; we will discuss the new process for compliance spreadsheets.

January 24th- Elementary ICC meeting (virtual)

January 26th -Secondary ICC meeting (virtual)

New ICC Meeting- January 27th (virtual)

Indicator and Reports Directions:

January updates to the December 1 Child Count, Indicators 9, 10, 11, Exit Report, and Transfer In and Out Spreadsheet are due on February 3rd. The date was adjusted to provide more time to complete the new process. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at twhite11@rvaschools.net or call (804)551-2003.

As schools hold IEP meetings for English Learners, Language Instruction Educational Program (LIEP) teachers should be invited to participate as team members.


10 Classroom Management Strategies and Techniques

Managing a classroom of students with a range of unique social and academic skills is a complex challenge. Unfortunately, research indicates that teachers report a severe lack of professional development and support to improve classroom management.

So what can educators do to build respectful communication, focus, and motivation in the classroom? Get inspired by these 10 strategies that will help boost academic engagement, enhance prosocial student behavior, and establish an orderly environment!

  1. Document and Display Classroom Rules: Make sure your students know the classroom expectations. Post expectations and rules around the room and review them often. Acknowledge when students are demonstrating behaviors that align with the expectations and rules.

  2. Routine, Routine, Routine: We all do best with a predictable routine. The same is especially true for children. Ensure your students know the routine by posting the daily schedule and reviewing it in the morning.

  3. Build in Redundancy: Provide multiple ways for your students to contact information about expectations and rules. This can include the use of classroom visuals, individual visual supports, and regular review.

  4. Model Desired Behavior: Model the behavior you want to see in your students. As the teacher, one of the most effective ways to teach prosocial behavior is to demonstrate it yourself. This can be done throughout the day and using role-play.

  5. Praise Specifically and Often: Provide specific praise when you observe a student engaged in appropriate pro-social behavior and remember to shoot for a 5:1 ratio of praise to correction for all students.

  6. Ignore "Trivial" Behavior: Trivial behaviors are those that are minor in nature (e.g., talking out of turn, failing to follow directions, etc.) If the behavior is not dangerous or disruptive to the classroom, do not attend to it.

  7. Avoid Power Struggles: Ask yourself what will happen if some task does not get completed right away or if some behavior is not attended to. If the answer is nothing major, it might be best to avoid the conflict and focus instead on what you can control.

  8. Address Problem Behavior Quickly: If a student is presenting with frequent or dangerous behavior, do not wait. Waiting might lead to a bigger problem later on. Inform the team immediately so additional support and assessments can be provided.

  9. Provide Choice: Choice is control. When possible, provide your students with choices related to academic tasks, materials, reinforcers, etc. Simply providing choice has been shown to significantly minimize the occurrence of challenging behavior.

  10. Make Positive Letters and Phone Calls: We tend to reserve notes and phone calls home to report problems. However, notes and phone calls can also be used to inform parents of their child's prosocial behaviors. Find opportunities to acknowledge and reinforce good behavior.

Ways to Access BCBA Support:

  • Staff can ask individual support questions during the BCBA monthly Virtual Office Hours. The next meeting is scheduled from 3:00 - 4:30 PM on January 17th.

  • Staff can request support for an FBA/BIP for an individual student through the BCBA Referral form.

Professional Learning Options:

  • ICCs and/or Administrators can request professional learning for their specific building, using the BCBA Referral Form.

  • Participate in our virtual 9-Week FBA/BIP Training Series running from January 30, 2023- March 27, 2023. Meet weekly on Mondays from 3:00-4:00 to walk through the entire FBA/BIP process from start to finish.

  • Staff can attend monthly webinars on FBA/BIP topics. The next webinar is scheduled for January 12, 2023 from 4:00-5:00 PM where the Division BCBAs will be discussing Identifying Functions and Creating Hypotheses.

  • Staff are invited to attend a full day FBA/BIP training on January 27, 2023 to learn the new process from start to finish. This professional development will help you to walk away feeling confident in supporting your school in the new process. ICCs who participated in the ICC summer academy would not need to attend. To register visit KickUp and select the Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plans (FBA/BIP) training.


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This month’s Assistive Technology Tip of the Month about Speech to Text software, specifically Voice Typing, is an excerpt from an article on Edutopia’s website. Click on this link for the full article: Easy Ways to Bring Assistive Technology Into Your Classroom.

“Speech-to-text software: Students with print disabilities such as dyslexia can struggle when producing written assignments. However, if your classroom uses Google Docs, all of your students—those with and without disabilities—have access to an important free tool called voice typing, which is found under the Tools tab. (Dragon Dictation and VoiceNote are similar tools that are also worth trying.)

Speech-to-text is a form of assistive technology that allows students—and teachers—to dictate into their computer and watch their words appear as text on the computer screen, without typing. . . students with and without disabilities like using this tool.

Teachers may want to create a space for voice typing in a corner of the classroom, where classroom sounds won’t be picked up by the computer microphone. If all students have the opportunity to rotate through this area, voice typing should not carry any stigma.”


Transition Tip

The transition assessment process should include a variety of methods for assessing the student and potential post-school environments. It is a multi-year process that requires both time and planning to allow for assessment through self-awareness, career awareness, exploration, preparation, and training to confirm interests. Its purpose is to help IEP teams craft postsecondary goals that align with a student’s strengths, preferences, interests, and needs (SPIN), as well as plan, instruct, and evaluate to determine if progress has been made toward achieving the transition activities and IEP goals and objectives. Additionally, this process can assist with the identification of resources and supports that are needed to achieve successful postsecondary outcomes.

Transition Mentor Teachers are available for support!

What’s Happening in Our Schools!

George Wythe High School

On December 7th, the transition mentor teacher, along with the Senior Class of 2023 and J&G Workforce, hosted a job fair at GWHS. J&G Workforce is a Community Engagement Organization that assists with mobilizing community resources for low-income families. 25 vendors participated, including colleges, Apprenticeship Trade Contractors, and hiring companies. The students were able to apply for jobs and gain knowledge of various trades jobs, as well as open VACU bank accounts. Fifteen students put in applications for hire, and 60 signed up for follow-up sessions with the electrical, carpentry, and general labor trade agencies from January through April 2023.

John Marshall High School

On December 12, Job Seekers provided information on NetWork2WorkRVA to the transition team. This agency connects skilled job seekers with employers looking to fill vital roles within their companies. They help with finding jobs that pay a living wage and lead to a fulfilling career.

On December 13, DARS brought in Hargraves Skills to provide Pre-Ets services to students. Students shared their career aspirations, discussed their current employment, and shared personal qualities that helped them do well during the interview process.

Armstrong High School

DARS continues to meet with and accept referrals for services. These services include job exploration, work-based learning, education and training options, workplace readiness, and self-advocacy.

A Peace of Mind is partnering with AHS to offer job training, work-readiness skills, career assessments, and paid work experience to eligible students who complete the application process. Registration has begun, and 17 AHS students are now being served! Spaces are still available: AHS’ goal is to have a minimum of 30 students served. Please contact Ms. Rebecca Parks for more information.

SOAR 356 will begin serving students with work-based learning experiences. To be eligible, students must first complete their DARS referral form and initial DARS meeting.

Huguenot High School

HHS Education for Employment class closed out 2022 with a holiday breakfast. The students created the menu, the budget for the purchases, prepared the food, and served their classmates.

We hosted our first Apprenticeship Fair on December 8th. We were able to sign up several 12th-grade students for electrical, carpentry, and general labor apprenticeship careers after their high school graduation. The representatives will return in the Spring for another fair.

Mr. Chris Woodbury of the Virginia Credit Union presented a Financial Literacy Workshop to our EFE class. The students were engaged and learned about budgeting their wants and needs.

Thomas Jefferson High School

We will be hosting a Resume Writing/Cover Letter workshop in February 2023.

The Transition Mentor Teacher is working with the DARS representative and the Future Center to schedule events for Career and Apprenticeship Fairs.


Mark your calendars! The following partners will be in your schools this month!

January 9th-13th:(tentative) LiNUA Union (Laborers’ International Union of North America-Informational Session- Apprenticeship opportunities available (GWHS).

January 23rd-27th: (tentative) Richmond Electricians Union-Informational Session- Apprenticeship opportunities available (GWHS).

January 27th: College and Career Fair (GWHS).

January 12th-16th: Military Information Session (GWHS).

January 9th: A Peace of Mind-Career Interest Inventories (AHS).

January 18th: Job Corps Presentation-Industry Certifications after HS (AHS).

RPS Transition Mentor Team

Darlene Slade: Huguenot High, Thomas Jefferson High, River City Middle


Selina Wilson: John Marshall High, Henderson Middle, Richmond Alternative School & THRIVE


Karen Young: George Wythe High, Lucille Brown Middle, Boushall Middle


Rebecca Parks: Armstrong High School, Martin Luther King Middle School, Albert Hill Middle School, Binford Middle School



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SEAC welcomes all RPS families with students who have disabilities to join us for our meetings. RPS employees who are also parents of RPS students with disabilities are encouraged to join us as well and wear your "parent hats". The next SEAC meeting will be on January 11 @ 6:30. It will be a virtual meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting





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  • The link to register is here: https://vcuautismcenter.org/te/courses/
  • The Evidence Based Practices Section of their website has a lot of information and webinars.
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    • Continue to register via KickUp for RPS professional learning opportunities. https://www.kickup.co/
    • Behavior: Matching Strategies to Functions and Providing Feedback In BEHAVIOR WEBINAR 2, participants learned how to identify the functions of behavior through the ABC process. Now it’s time to learn how to match specific strategies to functions while progress monitoring through a feedback cycle of engagement directly with students.
    • This session will engage participants in an interactive manner as they learn how to match and implement strategies and utilize tools to target behaviors and engage in a system of feedback to students that promotes both positive adult relationships and fosters student ownership of behaviors. As challenging behaviors decrease, students will be able to authentically engage in instruction leading to increased academic and social success.
    • Both Special Educators and General Educators are welcome and encouraged to attend one or all of the webinars.
    • ICCs and/or Administrators can request professional learning for their specific building, using the BCBA Referral Form
    • Staff can attend monthly webinars on FBA/BIP topics. The next webinar is scheduled for January 12, 2023 from 4:00-5:00 PM where the Division BCBAs will be discussing Identifying Functions and Creating Hypotheses.
    • Staff are invited to attend a full day FBA/BIP training on January 27, 2023 to learn the new process from start to finish. This professional development will help you to walk away feeling confident in supporting your school in the new process. ICCs who participated in the ICC summer academy would not need to attend. To register visit KickUp and select the Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plans (FBA/BIP) training.
    • Below is the private registration link to the 40 Hour RBT training course for January. The course runs January 16th through March 13th. Please share with anyone in your division who would be interested in taking the course. Please do not share this link with anyone outside your school division as this is a course only offered to our school partners. If you would like more information about the course please see the attached flyer and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.Registration will close on January 9, 2023.

      RBT Course Registration


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    Please use this link to nominate your amazing colleagues!

    Shout Out Nomination

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    Pictured above is a photo from Overby. Shout out to Overby students; the Hive at Overby is standing up for their fellow Bees!
    Kaila Small, Exceptional Education Teacher, FCES, is a first-year teacher who exemplifies grit, determination, and a LOVE for our Fairfield Scholars! She is a positive "Beacon of Light" for our students!

    Spotlight on Juanzel Cardoza-Felder, Secondary Instructional Specialist! I am so thrilled to have Ms. Cardoza-Felder back in RPS! She is a wealth of information, especially about anything high-school. Ms. Cardoza-Felder's work ethic and work quality are second to none, and her sense of humor is wickedly funny! Ms. Cardoza-Felder, you are a tremendous asset to RPS and are appreciated more than you could know!

    Ms. Monika Kulwikowska (third grade Sped inclusion/resource teacher)While Ms. K. (as she is affectionately known) is new to Overby-Sheppard, she is always willing to learn new things. It is not uncommon to see her huddled with one of the content coaches or the ICC to support her development. She has already established relationships with families and staff to support student learning. She is pleasant, happy, and always excited about what students are learning and able to achieve. Her personality is infectious, and we are lucky to have her at Overby-Sheppard.

    A huge shout-out to Denise Robinson, Malerie Anderson, Kimberly Jackson-Small, Chris Parsons, Joel Wilson, and Vonzelle Waller for covering four additional schools (while serving their own assigned schools) the last few months while two other psychs have been out on maternity leave - you all have done a TREMENDOUS job, and it is much appreciated!

    Sheri Staten is my nominee. She is a great teacher and has taught her colleagues how to become more organized. She comes to work with a positive attitude and encourages her toughest students to do their best. Mrs. Staten has also found "unconventional" ways to keep her students engaged in learning through waffle Wednesdays.

    Ms. Annie Hawkins, an exceptional education teacher at Ginter Park Elementary, has shown herself to be an exemplary part of the school's team. She goes above and beyond to meet students' needs, assist fellow staff, and work collaboratively with her peers. Most notably, Ms. Hawkins is phenomenal at collecting, analyzing, and acting on thorough data. Ms. Hawkins turns always turns in the documentation on time or early, and when provided a task, is reliable to have it done. We appreciate her so much!

    Kelsea Hull- a school psychologist- is one of the most professional and kind people I've worked with. She is always willing to problem-solve and seeks the best for students and teachers. She's a joy to work with, and I'm so grateful!

    Mr. Gregory Gilliam, Instructional Assistant, Cardinal Elementary...Mr. Gilliam is more of co-teacher than instructional assistant. In our intensive support classroom, he's able to get our students to reach beyond their potential by expecting the very best of them. He doesn't foster their disability first, he addresses their greatest abilities and encourages their growth based on those abilities. The students are thriving where others would have seen only behaviors, he sees self-expression, keen interest, and excellence. If he has ideas of how to improve a lesson, he openly shares with his teacher and she appreciates his vast knowledge and insight. He prepares art activities for the students to inspire creativity and will often sing to our non-verbal students who are beginning to activate their voice even if it's just their name or sequence of numbers. These students are very responsive to his methods of to achieve vocalization.

    LaKeisha Frazier-Jones, Compliance Coordinator, Woodville Elementary School LaKeisha goes the extra mile everyday here at Woodville. She is always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. LaKeisha comes to school everyday with a smile on her face. The children love and respect her. She is dedicated and a hard worker. Continue to let your little light shine. We love you! Your Woodville Family

    Donna Contessa. Teacher at Mary Munford (Specialty class) Works in a positive, productive way with the many staff members who support the students. Strong support for the families of the students.

    Norma Robinson, Lead Teacher @ RCEEA Teaching students with significant disabilities, such as intellectual disability and autism, is not easy. It requires a strong knowledge of evidence-based practices, structure, and routine to meet the needs of students with uneven cognitive and developmental learning patterns and abilities. If you visit Ms. Brown's class, you will see an educator fully capable of teaching and stretching her students' abilities and capacities. To put it plainly, she knows what she is doing and her students respond accordingly. Her students learn important academic and functional skills that will lead to positive post-secondary outcomes. She differentiates lessons as you would expect from a Master Teacher. She provides individualized reading instruction to both readers and non-readers. Her students watch CNN-10 news daily. Not only do her students discuss it, they relate the various videos to their everyday lives from climate change to financial topics. She makes learning fun, often using online quizzes as formative assessments. She speaks with an authority of the subject matter and uses real-life examples to make learning meaningful for students. Her students pass the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) at a success rate any principal and/or superintendent would proudly claim, including this principal. Ms. Brown's presence and teaching ability in the classroom undeniably contributes to her students' success.

    Mrs. Anderson, Exceptional Ed Teacher, Thomas Jefferson H.S. is an exceptional educator. She goes above and beyond, motivating, educating, and mentoring her students to try their very best every day. She builds their self esteem, and she advocates to make sure that her students are prepared for graduation.

    Sarah Morrison, ICC, Lucille Brown MS: Ms. Morrison is efficient and always willing to lend a hand to support her department and colleagues in any way she can.

    Mrs. Shondra Kersey, the Office Associate at Amelia Street School. We simply could not operate without her. We are very blessed to have an amazing and thorough working partner. She loves and take care our our students and staff!

    Many thanks to Pamela Ragin, ICC and Nicole Glover, SPED for their exceptional leadership at Huguenot High School. They work tirelessly and lead by example.

    Kailyn Small, Exceptional Education Teacher, Fairfield Elementary. Ms. Small is a diligent, crafty, supportive teacher. She gives of herself to all students in and out of her circle. She spend countless hour outside of work preparing for the week ahead. She provides incentives to students that she thinks need encouragement or motivation. Last but not least, she wilily shares herself with all student in the building and is very accommodating to them all.

    BIG SHOUT OUT TO: Keri Lagow who has been a wonderful mentor for the Intensive Support class for me. She visits my classroom and gives me ideas how to better shape the room, the students and the IA's for the students overall academic and social growth. She has helped me to support the students with her experience and background knowledge.

    Robin Best, ICC at Henry Marsh goes the extra mile by being flexible and readily available to pivot at a moments notice in support of students with disabilities. Mrs. Best is a natural leader that tirelessly strives to help those around her grow as professionals.

    Mrs. Darlene Slade Transition Mentor Teacher, SAF Finance Officer at Huguenot High School. Mrs. Slade has always given unbias concrete advice on behalf of her colleagues. Her work ethic and dedication to the students needs have shined throughout this school year and previous years. From implementing donors choose for other colleagues to offering an attentive hear, she is a positive gem on our team.

    All of the Service Providers that assist our students at Lucille Brown Middle School, (OT, Speech, PT, School Psychologist, School Social Worker, and Adaptive PE) so many people to name or thank, bu tI really appreciate what you do for your students, and the way you support our teachers as well. Thank you so much.


    Additional previous issues can be found on the RPS website under the Office of Exceptional Education. Please use the following link: https://www.rvaschools.net/academics/exceptionaleducation