SSD/Hancock Place Monthly Dispatch

December 2022

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Surviving the Holidays

Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Tips to Connect with Your Kids During the Holidays

Tips to Connect with Your Kids During the Holidays

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Tips to Connect with Your Kids During the Holidays

Holiday excitement and stress can overwhelm even the best us. The holiday season is supposed to be about family and togetherness, right? Even so, it's often easy to overlook this fundamental fact. Which is why it's so important to take time ​out of the seasonal hustle and bustle to help your family enjoy the real meaning of the holidays.

Here are some tips to help you and your younger children enhance the unique family connection you share this holiday season.

  • Time-In Fun: Tip your child with five- or 10-minute "time-in" activities. You can use a token system to remind you and your child to stop and take a few moments to have fun together during the busy day. Place the token in a jar to see how much time you spend with your child each week.
  • Holiday Goodie Vouchers: Build your child's sense of accomplishment by giving him/her age-appropriate chores, activities and learning tasks. Place one goodie voucher under your child's pillow at night. The reward written on the voucher should cost nothing, such as a promise of time and attention with loved ones.
  • Memory Mosaics: Create a gallery of memories from the past year on your child's bedroom wall or in the family room where everyone can see it. Your child can use photos or drawings to help create positive memories.
  • Love Notes: Throughout the holiday season, hide a few notes (stickers, cards) of praise in places where your child will find them.
  • Family Tree: Help your child learn about your family and who he/she is by making family tree ornaments each month that can be used as decorations during the holidays.

    Remember, no matter what the age of your child, spending extra time and offering extra praise can help you all enjoy a happier, calmer, more familial holiday season.​
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SSD Student Scholarships

Scholarship Opportunities for SSD High School Seniors

Several scholarships are available for students who receive SSD services! High school seniors who plan to enroll in a college, university or postsecondary program after graduation this spring should review the following opportunities.

Applications for The James E. Westbury/SSD Board of Education Scholarship, The Allison M. Haake Memorial Scholarship, and The Bonhomme Lions Club Scholarship must receive at least one service from SSD and plan to enroll in a college, university, or postsecondary program. All scholarships require a letter of recommendation. Applications are due Dec. 16, 2022. 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, 2023.

SSD Student Awards

Since 1988, SSD has sponsored The Rosemary Zander Awards for students receiving at least one service from SSD and have demonstrated extraordinary progress and an excellent attitude. The award has long recognized the accomplishments of students receiving services or technical education courses from SSD.

Students have been honored for success in a variety of categories – academics, arts, athletics, communications, vocational training, employment, independent living skills, community service, and extracurricular activities. Recipients of the award must be nominated by an SSD staff member using the The Rosemary Zander Awards form by Dec. 16, 2022.

SSD Staff Awards

Nominations for Salutes Awards Open Until Jan. 6

Applications for several awards which honor the contributions of SSD staff and community members are awaiting nominations, due Jan. 6, 2023. 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 (e.g., students, parents, partner district staff, and other community members). Consider submitting a nomination and help us provide the recognition they deserve for their meaningful work in SSD!

Family and Community Engagement (FACE)

Assistive Technology Workshop

Join FACE for a workshop all about assistive technology. In this virtual session, participants will be introduced to Assistive Technology, by SSD Assistive Technology Specialist Kim White. Learn how to request an AT consultation and participate in demonstrations of universal tools available to all SSD students. Examples will be provided for low- and high-tech AT options that can be implemented in the home and school environments.Click here to register: Assistive Technology Workshop Registration

Sensory Friendly Options for your Family this Winter

St. Louis Zoo’s Sensory-Friendly Wild Lights Night

Dec. 9, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: Nothing says St. Louis Christmas quite like Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo. Your family can stroll through the grounds surrounded by a million lights, including animated displays, fireside stories, campfire s’mores, photo opportunities, and more. This event is made sensory-friendly with trained staff on-hand and quiet areas to help your child decompress. Get more information and tickets at

Saint Charles Christmas Traditions on Historic Main Street – Sensory-friendly tours

The Historic Main Street of Saint Charles is a magical and fun place to visit during the Holiday season. With a new inclusion initiative, Saint Charles is now offering guided sensory-friendly tours. These guided tours are conducted twice daily by sensory specialists. Each 90-minute tour introduces guests to several Christmas Legends and ends with an opportunity to get your picture with Santa and a full deck of 2019 Saint Charles Christmas Traditions trading cards. Tours are Saturdays and Sundays during the holiday festival. For more information, including dates and times, visit

Sibshops at ARC

Wednesday, December 14 4:30 – 6:00 pm , Monthly on the second Wednesday


St. Louis Arc

1177 N Warson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63132, US

Ages: Siblings ages 7 – 15

Sibshops offer an opportunity for brothers and sisters of children with disabilities to get peer support and education within a recreational context. This free series includes a fun mix of information, games, activities, and discussion. Children between the ages of 7-15 years old who have a sibling with a disability are encouraged to participate. For more information, contact Lee Anna Sanders at 314-817-2269.

ARCH Respite - ARCH Respite reimburses primary caregivers at a standard rate for short-term relief services they receive either in their own home, with the community, or in the home of a care provider.

ARCH Respite serves St. Louis County and St. Louis City to register, or learn more, contact or call 314-817-2236.

Family And Community Engagement upcoming events

Upcoming Workshops

Parent Advisory Council

The SSD Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is comprised of families advising and collaborating to improve the education, confidence and social outcomes of each student served by SSD.

The PAC consists of five parents or guardians – one member and four alternates – from each of the 22 St. Louis County school districts and from each of the five SSD special education schools. The parents or guardians of students receiving special education services in that district or school elect SSD PAC members.

hancock place ssd pac meeting schedule

All meetings will be held in person at Hancock Place High School Library from 6:00 - 7:00 pm. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month from September through May (except the month of January). You may attend the meetings in person or virtually. Virtual meeting link:

Meetings dates are listed below:

December 6, 2022

February 7, 2023

March 7, 2023

April 4, 2023

May 2, 2023

Connect with the SSD Board of Education Members:

The SSD Board of Education strives for transparency, accountability, and accessibility. We welcome family, staff, and community members to share comments, concerns, and ideas with SSD Board of Education members. To find the Board member representing your subdistrict, visit the Board of Education page on the SSD website.

Upcoming Events

SSD Board of Education Meetings start at 5:45 pm unless noted otherwise

December 13, 2022

January 24, 2023

February 28, 2023

March 14, 2023

April 25, 2023

May 23, 2023

June 17, 2023

Please visit the SSD Board of Education for more information.

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Contact Us

Special School District of St. Louis County

12110 Clayton Road

Town & Country, MO 63131

Phone: 314‐989‐8100

Dr. Donna Ellis

  • Director of Special Education

Katie Humphrey

  • School Social Worker

Susan Bartels

  • School Psychologist

Ashley Freeman

  • School Psychologist