SSD/Valley Park Monthly Dispatch

November 2021

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. Please check out 2 of our staff below: Ms. Jones and Ms. Molner!!! Both Ms. Jones and Ms. Molner are paraprofessionals on our team! You can see from their amazing background and experiences how talented our paras are here in VP!

Ms. Jones – as I told you this month, you are associated with HARD WORK by your team. Thank you for always being willing to learn and grow as the students you work with can change throughout the year. I also appreciate that you access your other experiences for your role with us 😊

Ms. Molner - you have been such an amazing addition to our team, specifically in Ms. Werner's class. It has been wonderful to see you transfer your skills to working with our younger students. I also love how much your confidence has grown since you started with us last year 😊

Thank you both for everything you do EVERY day for EVERY student you work with!

~ Julie ~

Tammy Jones, Paraprofessional


University of South Carolina: BA in Recreation Management

Rhema Bible Training Center: Teaching Ministries Certificate

Professional Background: Swim Team Coach and Recreation Director for the City of Myrtle Beach for 5 years, PE teacher and Summer Camp Director for Southside Christian School for 5 years, SSD Para at Valley Park for 17 years

Family: Married to Brian for 32 years, 2 daughters, Nicole is a Missionary Associate with the Assembly of God and Denise is a Children’s Pastor at Covenant Praise Church of God in Cuba MO

One of the best things about my role at Valley Park is that I often get work with the same students from kindergarten all the way through graduation. I love to see the students grow throughout their years at Valley Park.

Rebecca Molner, Paraprofessional

Education: BA in Psychology

Professional background: 5 years as a live-in staff member at a group home for adults with disabilities (L’Arche)

Family/pets: I am super close with my parents, brother, and sister (my sister and I pictured at my brother’s recent wedding). And I have a cat, Susie.

My favorite part of being and SSD team member at Valley Park is the close-knit community. I love that our students can be on the same campus from early childhood until the end of high school and this allows us to work as a whole team throughout their education.

SSD Student Scholarship Deadline Approaching

Many opportunities for scholarships and awards are now open for SSD students! SSD scholarship applications for graduating high school seniors are active and due Dec. 17, 2021. Students applying for The James E. Westbury/SSD Board of Education Scholarship, The Allison M. Haake Memorial Scholarship, or The Bonhomme Lions Club Scholarship must receive at least one service from SSD and plan to go to a college, university, or postsecondary program. All scholarships require a letter of recommendation. 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, 2022.

For more information, please contact Deana Parsons, SSD internal communications coordinator, at or 314.989.8102.

SSD Parent Advisory Council - Take 2

We do currently have a parent representative (thank you Shanna!) - however - if you are also interested in this opportunity, please email me! ~ Julie

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.

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:

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:

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Health and Wellness

World Kindness Day is Saturday, November 13, 2021. Kindness can take on many forms from Pay-It-Forward in the drive-through line to volunteering at an event to saying hi to 10 people each day. Kindness can be found everywhere in big and small ways. One way we often miss showing kindness is to ourselves. There has been a lot of talk in the world and especially here in schools about giving each other and ourselves grace through this pandemic. We are heading into the heart of the 3rd school year impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and our brains are not wired to handle this much uncertainty. In Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead she states “Connection is why we're here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” In this age of social distancing, we have lost comfort in making connections. In safe ways, we can find ways to get back to connecting with others and ourselves through kindness and grace.

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Grace is defined as courteous goodwill. Extending kindness and grace to ourselves first will carry over to others, then our community then in grand ways our world. As we head into World Kindness Day and the holiday season, let’s strive to find ways to show ourselves kindness so that we can extend kindness and grace to those in our home which will cause ripples into our schools and community. Being kind to yourself promotes happiness and confidence, how you treat yourself sets the tone for how others will treat you.

Here is a quick first step - Give yourself a high five in the mirror to start your day positively. We can start each day fresh with new intentions and kindness. “Talk to yourself like you would someone you love.” Brené Brown.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has a wealth of resources and ideas. Here is a fun Bingo Board with tangible ways families can practice kindness throughout the month.

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:

SSD Parent Education (PEDA)

The Parent Education and Diversity Awareness (PEDA) Program invites families and community members to visit our Family and Community Resource Center at the Learning Center in Hazelwood. The program is excited to offer a diverse collection of materials, including many new books that are ready to be shared.

PEDA has several workshops scheduled for November. These include:

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders Two Part Series

Session 2 | November 15, 6:30 PM

Identify and understand the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders and learn effective and practical strategies that will support your child’s success at home and school. The second session will focus on strategies. Both sessions will have time for discussion and questions.

Presenter: John Bruno, Ph.D., SSD Autism Effective Practice Specialist

Zoom Meeting Information

Meeting ID: 982 8634 6135
Passcode: 103277

Introduction to Charting the LifeCourse (in Collaboration with St. Louis ARC)

November 18, 2021, 6:30 PM

Charting the LifeCourse (CtLC) is a set of eight principles developed to support people with IDD and their families so they can have their best lives. In this workshop, we will learn about the CtLC principles and work together to create planning and problem-solving tools. Participants will also receive updates about LifeCourse Connect Missouri, which is a new online platform that can be used by individuals and family members to access tools. This workshop is for everyone but especially self-advocates, families, and support staff.

Presenters: Sharon Spurlock, Director of Family Support, St. Louis Arc and Debra Fiasco, Administrator, Parent Education and Diversity Awareness, Special School District

Zoom Webinar Registration:

PEDA is happy to announce that we are taking applications for our Spring Parent Leadership Institute (PLI). PLI will occur over 4 evenings in February and March. You can learn more and download the application here: Parent Leadership Institute

Finally, PEDA would love your feedback! Please complete are PEDA Communications survey here: PEDA Survey

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

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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