Summit Connect

Fall 2020 Newsletter

Superintendent's Message

As I write this message, our districts throughout the region are now weeks into the 2020-21 school year, though each district we serve looks a bit different. Some of you are in person five days a week, while others are hybrid or even all remote. Regardless of how you are servicing your students, I know there have been many challenges along the way. Unfortunately, we do not know what the future holds and what new difficulties await.

Thankfully, the Summit ESC is able to connect with you, even it is via Zoom. Over the last couple of months, we have slowly started to resume some face-to-face meetings and professional development sessions. I want you to know we are here to continue to assist with your district's needs. While we like to check in with our districts to see how we can help, we also don't want to be a bother. We recognize the time constraints everyone is under right now. Feel free to reach out to us if we can help in any way.

Most importantly, make time to read, go for a run, or whatever it is that brings you joy.

Take care,

Joe Iacano

Summit ESC

Providing Social-Emotional Support to Districts Remains Top Priority

The Summit ESC has been working diligently to provide additional social-emotional programming to assist districts. Now more than ever, the well-being of staff and students is a top priority. A four-part Wellness Series is underway, with the next component focusing on minimizing anxiety while helping students & staff cope on October 21.

In addition, the Summit ESC received a $30,000 state grant to assist in providing prevention training to school districts.. We are partnering with eight other ESCs to share ways to support school districts in the region. To date, funds have been used to offer PAX Good Behavior Game trainings, which has grown to include seven districts in Summit County. PAX is a universal prevention intervention used by teachers and schools to teach self-regulation and self-control in young people. All of this work complements Ohio's strategic plan for education, "Each Child, Our Future," which emphasizes the importance of meeting the needs of the whole child to ensure each student is challenged, prepared and empowered for his or her future.

On November 4 via Zoom, we are offering a QRP (Question, Persuade, Refer) training in conjunction with the Summit County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Click here to register:

The QRP mission is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing innovation, practical and proven suicide prevention training. The first 70 who register for this session are free of charge.

Districts Make Diversity Training a Priority

More area school districts are investing in ways to improve equity and inclusion, which includes scheduling diversity training through the Summit ESC. Diversity Consultant Denise Ward has 102 days scheduled among 10 different districts for the 2020-21 school year, including those in Summit, Medina and Portage Counties. Depending on the district, Ward presents to staff, students, or both; and the specific programs vary.

Ward said common topics for student groups include "Our Differences Don't Divide Us" and "It's Okay to be Different." Staff topics sessions such as "How Diversity Affects the Classroom" and "Creating an Inclusive Classroom Environment" have been created for districts.

The Summit ESC recently added Linda O'Neill, a former Assistant Superintendent in the Bedford City Schools to assist with the diversity training work on an as-needed basis. For questions concerning diversity training through the Summit ESC, please reach out to Patti Maloney at

Kids First Marks Decade of Service

Kids First in Akron, run by the Summit ESC, has marked a milestone with 10 years of service in the community.

Kids First provides students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) comprehensive educational and therapeutic programs from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The services offered are determined by the student’s individualized learning plan, or IEP, and may include speech language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, adaptive physical education and music therapy. High school students can be serviced by the TOPS, or the Transition Opportunity Program for Students.

The reality of students achieving significant milestones throughout the past 10 years is not lost on the instructors, such as when one who had only communicated with a device learned to become verbal. “It was wonderful to see the progression of a student in learning how to read some words and say the words,” said TOPS teacher Kanin Bailey. “You could see how proud the student was of their new abilities. The team approach at our school is fundamental to the progress our students can achieve.”

Students must be referred to the program through their home school district, which covers the cost of tuition. For additional information on the program, visit the Summit ESC website here.

OTES 2.0 Training Begins in December

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, districts originally required to implement OTES 2.0 in the 2020-21 school year had the discretion to delay for one year until 2021-22. We want to help districts prepare their administrators for the updated evaluation system. OTES 2.0 bridge trainings will take place once a month, beginning December 8. These two-day training session will be conducted in person. The Summit ESC has three OTES trainers: Kristin Fazio, Angela Terella and Kristen Nowak to assist districts with the proper training.

The Ohio Teacher Evaluation System 2.0 Bridge Training is required for existing OTES 1.0 credentialed evaluators to address shifts with OTES 2.0. Upon completion of the OTES 2.0 Bridge Training evaluators (participants) may re-credential through the new online credentialing system. The OTES 2.0 Bridge Training will provide a better understanding of the OTES 2.0 Framework and Model, allow practice of skills and allow for sharing of resources and best practices in educator evaluation.

To register for the first upcoming OTES 2.0 Bridge training, visit

Inaugural Virtual Symposium A Success

Due to the pandemic, the Summit ESC chose to have a Virtual Symposium in August, rather than cancel the event altogether. More than 180 attendees took part in the one-day event, which included a variety of breakout sessions. Topics for the sessions included: leadership during a changing world, racing towards equity and evaluating educators. The presentation with the highest attendance was by Dr. Erich Merkle from Akron Public Schools with the Pandemic of Social Emotional Needs, a topic that was gaining momentum even before COVID-19.

"We received quite a few emails and notes expressing appreciation for us having the Virtual Symposium," said Summit ESC Superintendent Joe Iacano. "Even though it was a busy time for districts as they prepared for the start of a new school year during a pandemic, we felt it was important to provide some professional development opportunities, especially since so many of us had not been able to connect for several months."

We hope to see everyone in person next August!

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