I hope everyone was able to take a break and enjoy the Thanksgiving break with family. As we approach the end of the semester, we are planning for next school year. We are excited to share some upcoming events and transition opportunities for 5th to 6th, 8th to 9th, and post secondary opportunities. These events are designed to provide valuable information and support to ensure a smooth transition into 2024-2025.
UMSL Succeed Programs - Tuesday, December 19 from 6-7:00pm at CHS library: Our CHS counselors and our CHS SSD department are excited to partner with UMSL. Join us to learn more about the programs offered by UMSL for students with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities.
CHS Curriculum Night for current 8th Grade Families Wednesday, January 10 7pm: To better prepare for the high school journey, we have organized a transition night exclusively for 8th grade parents. Join us prior to the event at 6:30pm as we will be available to answer questions and provide an overview about special education services at the high school.
5th to 6th Grade WMS Night Thursday, January 18 7pm: For parents of 5th-grade students, we invite you to our preview night at WMS, where you will get a glimpse of the middle school experience. Join us prior to the event at 6:30pm as we will be available to answer questions and provide an overview about special education services at Wydown.
Special Education Community Engagement- Thursday, January 11 6pm: Join us for an open discussion at our Special Education Community Engagement at CHS. Your input and feedback are essential as we work together to create the Clayton experience for our students.
Our Partnership Agreement continues to be a living breathing document: Visit our Special Education page to access the most current version of the partnership agreement. This agreement outlines our action steps for the current school year.
We encourage you to mark these dates on your calendar and actively participate in the events relevant to your child's educational journey. Your involvement is key to ensuring a seamless transition and fostering a supportive community for our students.
Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you at these events.
Director of Special Education; Clayton
Celebrate the holiday season at the most spectacular holiday lights experience in the St. Louis area.
Featuring nearly two million dazzling lights, Garden Glow transforms the iconic setting of the Missouri Botanical Garden into an enchanted wonderland rich with mesmerizing displays and unforgettable moments.
Family Nights on November 29, December 6, and December 13.
St. Louis Teen Book Festival
St. Louis County Library will host the St. Louis Teen Book Festival on Saturday, December 2 from 1:00-5:30 p.m. at Ladue Horton Watkins High School. This year’s line-up includes Neal Shusterman, Kendare Blake, Alexandra Bracken, Justin A. Reynolds and more. The festival is free and open to all readers.
1201 S. Warson Road, St. Louis, MO 63124
(enter at Donna Jahnke Student Plaza-South side of building)
US Bank Wild Lights
Monday, December 11 is Sensory-Friendly Night for neurodivergent guests with sensory sensitivities. This night will mirror the traditional Wild Lights experience, but also includes sensory maps, quiet areas and trained Zoo staff to assist individuals with sensory activities. Sensory Friendly Night is sponsored by The Autism Clinic at Hope.
Each year, the Special School District posts annual public notices as required by Board of Education policy and state law. These notices primarily serve to inform parents and students of their rights. Full SSD Board of Education policies and regulations can be found on the District website. All of SSD's public notices can be found on the District website at www.ssdmo.org/publicnotices.
Procedural Safeguards Notice
Did you know that the SSD has copies of the Procedural Safeguards and Parent Bill of Rights available in multiple languages on our website? The Procedural Safeguards help keep families informed about their rights and protections under IDEA. Visit the Procedural Safeguards section of the District website to review.
Family and Community Engagement
The holidays can be a stressful time financially for many families. The Community Action Agency of St. Louis County (CAASTLC) will be at the HUB at North Tech High School on January 5th from 10-2pm to help families. CAASTLC can provide the following programs and services to families:
● Case management
● Utility assistance
● Rental assistance
● Financial education
● Program development and educational activities.
Are you looking for unique and accessible activities to participate in this winter? Look no further than the latest FACE newsletter! In it you will find not only information on what FACE has to offer, but also ideas to enhance your student’s learning and great community events and offerings. You can sign up to have future newsletters sent to your inbox by visiting the FACE website today!
Would you like to learn more about how to support our student’s learning this Winter? Take a look at the FACE YouTube page and watch any of our pre-recorded webinars. Topics include toilet training, executive functioning, behavior supports, and Special Education Process. Check it out and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest other important topics.
Missouri Poison Center
FACE is hosting a webinar highlighting the Missouri Poison Center on December 5th from 6-7pm. In this webinar, attendees will learn how to contact the Missouri Poison Center, what to do if they suspect their student has gotten into something, and poison first aid. Register for this informative event here.
American Sign Language
American Sign Language classes were a huge success this Fall. If you did not get a chance to attend, registration for second semester classes will open up in mid December. Keep an eye out on the FACE website for more information. Classes will be held each Thursday for six weeks starting February 8th. Classes fill up fast so register early.
Grants Available for Innovative Classroom Projects
Educators working with children who have disabilities possess invaluable expertise in effective teaching methods. Frequently, there is a lack of funding from government-regulated taxes to support innovative educational initiatives, leading teachers to either personally finance materials or abandon expensive projects. The Special Education Foundation (SEF), has been bridging this financial gap by providing Classroom Innovation Grants to selected teachers each year since 2002. Classroom Innovation Grant applications for the 2024-2025 school year are being accepted now through December 15, 2023. Those selected will be notified in early 2024.
Bridge the Academic Break with Winter Camp
Camp programs within the community can play an important role in sustaining the positive impacts on students with disabilities, extending beyond the social and educational aspects of the classroom. Participation in these camps offers occasions for social interaction, increased independence, and have the potential to boost confidence during breaks in the school year.
SEF’s Kid-to-Camp program provides financial assistance to families of children served by the Special School District so they can attend camp during these breaks in the school year. Campership funds are awarded based on financial need and student benefit.
Help Keep Kids Warm this Winter
The cold temperatures this week have brought with it the reminder that winter is coming to the St. Louis region and how important it is for every student to have a suitable coat, hat, and gloves for the coming months.
Most of us are lucky not to have to choose between heat, food, or a warm winter coat. Sadly, there are many in our region that face that decision, and often, the winter coat comes last.
For a child with a disability, there are additional challenges when it comes to outerwear.
For example, a child in a wheelchair struggles with most outerwear as the bulkiness of the coat may interfere with the positioning equipment on the wheelchair, especially for children with complex positioning devices, such as laterals, harnesses, head supports, and other upper body supports.
For children with sensory issues, winter coats bring an extra burden. A child with autism may be overly sensitive to scratchy seams and tags, or they may react to clothes or waistbands that are too tight.
Right now, the Special Education Foundation is partnering with the Special School District of St. Louis County on the Critical Needs Coat Drive, where we’re raising money to buy coats for students this winter. Please donate online today to help put a coat on a kid who needs it. Especially with these harsh temperatures we’re facing right now!You can also mail your contribution to SEF at 11933 Westline Industrial Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63146.
Thank you for your generous support.
UMSL Office of Inclusive Postsecondary Education
Join us Tuesday, December 19 at CHS library to learn more about the programs offered by UMSL for students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) Application
Through the SWEP 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.
Learn More About UMSL's Succeed Program
The UMSL Succeed Program is designed to encourage and facilitate students to gain independence through academics, vocational experiences, and college residential/student life. Students must meet the criteria, which include:
- Have a documented intellectual or developmental disability.
- Demonstrate a strong interest or desire to pursue post secondary education to expand career & life opportunities.
- Have completed high school or will complete high school with a modified/standard diploma, or a certificate of program completion/achievement.
Nominate a Staff Member for a Salutes Award!
Applications for several awards which honor the contributions of SSD staff and community members are awaiting nominations, which are due Jan. 5, 2024. These awards are collectively known as Salutes awards because they are given at the District’s annual Salutes event in the spring. They include the following:
Please refer to the Salutes webpage for details about each award. Some awards permit nomination by SSD staff only, while others accept nominations from people who are not employed by SSD. Please nominate someone you know who works for SSD and help us provide the recognition they deserve for their meaningful work in SSD!
Scholarship Opportunities for SSD Seniors
John Cary Student Scholarship
The Special Education Foundation's John Cary Scholarship was established to honor the former SSD superintendent for his dedication to excellence and advocacy for students with disabilities. Each year, SEF grants scholarships to students entering post-secondary education, choosing recipients who embody John Cary's valued traits: resiliency, courage, and determination. Student applications and teacher nominations are accepted through January 26, 2024. Learn more and apply through this link.
PAC.ED: Parent Advisory Council of Children with Educational Diversity
If you were unable to attend, see the Zoom video and presentation PDF! Click HERE!
Presentations from SWEP (Summer Work Experience Program), Neighborhood Experiences, and the Youth Summer Program, along with a Q&A Session.
It is never too early to start thinking about summer options! Whether you are thinking about this summer or subsequent summers!
Knowledge is power when planning for your students. Programs such as SWEP (Summer Work Experience Program) have early deadlines in February.
PAC.ED advocates for awareness, understanding, equity and inclusion of and for all students with disabilities in the School District of Clayton. PAC.ED is a volunteer organization made up of families, Clayton, and Special School District (SSD) staff and administrators, as well as community members. Check our webpages to keep up to date on current PAC.ED events, as well as family resources.
If you have any questions or would like to volunteer to help with Clayton PAC.ED please contact Christina Blankenship, President, Clayton PAC.ED at email@example.com or 314.402.4920.
Inclusive Schools Week
The Inclusive Schools Network and the School District of Clayton have designated the week of December 4th -8th, 2023 as INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS WEEKTM ; the first full week of December. This year's theme is "Draw Me In". For more information regarding Inclusive Schools Week click HERE.
Submissions for the Clayton PAC.ED Inclusion Awards and Visual Arts Contest begin December 4th and close at midnight on March 1st. Award recipients will be honored at the Inclusion Awards Reception & Ceremony on Tuesday, April 2nd 2024.For more information on the Inclusion Awards click HERE and the Visual Arts Contest click HERE.
A Party for Everyone!
Clayton PAC.ED and Grace Wolf Books are proud to host “A Party for EVERYONE! A Celebration of Kindness & Inclusion on Sunday, January 21, 2024. Click HERE for more information and to make your RESERVATION today!
Clayton High School Senior and award-winning author, Grace Wolf and her brother Sam Gross (Illustrator) will be sharing the recent release of her second book “May I Come to Your Party?”
May I Come to Your Party? takes us on a heartwarming journey through the eyes of Jimmy, a young boy with autism. Just like any other child, Jimmy loves games, cake, and presents, but the sounds of the world are too loud for him, and the colors are too bright. Despite his challenges, he never stops trying to fit in.
When Jimmy discovers he is the only one not invited to a birthday party, his heart fills with disappointment. Thankfully, he has a classmate whose understanding of autism – and empathy – runs deeper than most. Inspired by her own experiences, she becomes Jimmy’s advocate, causing a positive shift in their classroom.
This beautiful story unfolds with each page, highlighting the incredible ripple effect of understanding and kindness. As Jimmy finally celebrates alongside his friends, this book invites readers to appreciate the vibrancy everyone brings to the world, particularly those who experience life a little differently.
May I Come to Your Party? is more than a story about inclusion for those with autism. It’s a lesson in bravery, empathy, and the transformative power of standing up for others. It also reminds us that our differences don’t eclipse our need to connect, to be part of the joy, and, most importantly, to be seen and accepted for who we are.
SSD Parent Advisory Council (SSD PAC)
The SSD PAC is open to every family with a child receiving SSD services. We have monthly zoom meetings. We are parents like you. We get it. You can just log on and watch. SSD and FACE share updates, great information, and presentations based on your needs. We advocate to inform policy with our parent voice. We share parent perspective to help our schools know how to best help our kids.
The SSD Parent Advisory Council has scheduled the following meetings for the 2023-24 school year. All meetings are held virtually via Zoom, from 7-9 PM. Additional information about meetings, including agendas, can be found on the PAC's website.
- Dec. 13, 2023
- Jan. 10, 2024
- Feb. 14, 2024
- April 10, 2024
- May 8, 2024