SSD/Parkway Newsletter

May 2022

Dear Parkway Families,

It is with great excitement that I start this newsletter off with a wonderful celebration. Each year dedicated Special Education teachers from across the St. Louis County are nominated to be recognized as a Key to the Classroom. This year, Missy Liebbrandt, a Special Education teacher at Claymont Elementary, was nominated and has been named the SSD Teacher of the Year! We could not be prouder or more grateful for all the wonderful support, encouragement, and progress Missy makes with the students and community she serves at Claymont Elementary.

As we start to think of the summer weeks that are before us, I wanted to take some time in these next few newsletters to highlight summer activities and advice from some of our district professionals in the areas of Speech/Language, Occupational Therapy, Reading, Social/Emotional, as well as miscellaneous resources. We hope that these resources will be useful throughout the summer months.

I shared in prior newsletters that we celebrate our Paraprofessionals that have graduated with their degrees in education and are moving to their first teaching roles, as well as our retirees that have given countless years to the district to support some amazing students and school communities. We are looking to hire strong paras to join our team in the coming school year. Please continue to help us spread the word and recruit candidates. The Paraprofessional link for interested individuals to apply to SSD is still open and accepting applications on the SSD Website. Please share the name of the potential employee you are recommending with the Special Education Coordinator assigned to your student’s school so that we can continue to have the opportunity to fill Parkway with outstanding staff that care for and challenge all of our students to reach their greatest potential.

As always, a heartfelt thank you for all that you do to partner with us on behalf of your students. We appreciate your support of our staff and school communities.

In collaboration,

Dr. Amy Blumenfeld

Director of Special Education

314-989-8435 /

314-415-5297 /


SSD has recently partnered with Kelly Education Services for our substitute provider across St. Louis County. Kelly Education Services is actively looking to build their substitute base. Please see the below flyer for information about the process for receiving a substitute certification.

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Are you still thinking about what to do this summer?

The PEDA Summer Resource Packet can help!

PEDA 2022 Summer Resource Packet

Other helpful resources:

St. Louis Recreation Council

Blueprint for Summer

St. Louis County Parks Activity Guide

Early Childhood Summer Resource Guide

Coming Soon!

Applications will be available soon for the Fall 2022 semester SSD Family Leadership Institute FLI (Formerly Parent Leadership Institute PLI).

The Institute which has over 275 graduates to date, was created for families in 2007 to offer information, training, and resources. Participants gain the knowledge and skills to effectively collaborate with other families, school personnel and develop leadership for SSD and their home districts.

Participants will:

· Build understanding of future planning and problem-solving, utilizing Charting the LifeCourse tools;

· Learn to effectively participate in their child’s education and improve the educational climate for all children;

· Learn how to positively interact and collaborate with other families and school personnel; and

· Discover new resources and network with other families.

FLI Graduates have:

· Served on School boards

· Been elected as Parent Advisory Council (PAC) President(s)

· Actively participated in SSD and/or local school district PACs

· And further increased their leadership training in policy development and mentorship.

Contact us at or call 314.989.8460 if you have any questions or concerns.

Some Quotes from graduates.

· Thank you so much for everything! I feel very lucky to have found this opportunity.

· It was helpful to learn how Charting LifeCourse Tools could play a part in every step of the way.

· The topics and presenters made the program engaging and informative.

· Learned a lot about planning for my child’s future and the IEP process.

· I'm really glad I signed up for this program. I had no idea what to expect and learned so, so much about the available tools and all the SSD processes we will be experiencing during his life.

· The deep dive on the IEP history/process was incredibly helpful to give a framework on my ability to participate since my family is very new to the IEP process.

· The IEP information was incredibly helpful. It was a bit like pulling back the curtain on something that was previously a complete mystery.

· I am so thankful for this workshop and for the information, and materials you’ve shared w/ me. Thanks for facilitating the training so well. It’s great to have a safe space to talk openly with experts and other parents about education, IEPs, 504, Inclusion, challenges, etc. The choice of speaker, topics, resources and lending library was all great.

· Amazing group of people. Chance for honest conversations. Helps me be a better advocate & team member.

· Amazing experience – tons of knowledge shared. Lots of great connections with families. Better understanding of IEP process. I feel empowered to do more – create positive change. Opened my eyes to some realities approaching with transition to adulthood.

· We received a lot of great information in this class! I has made me change the way I look at the whole process, and how I approach things with my daughter. I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity!

· I am no longer feeling so alone & confused. Feel I can be a better advocate.

· Attending this institute was an awesome opportunity I turned out to be much more than I expected. It gave me a better understanding about the transition process & how I can best support my child through transition. It generated a lot of ideas for my child’s last IEP. I feel so much more equipped to navigate SSD=land, as well as help others navigate it too.

· Amazing. Blessing. You’ve enabled me to think more positively and concretely about my son’s future. I have always said “there’s no outline for me to follow” – but you’ve given me the framework I desired, support & connections!


The family engagement department would like to offer some timely resources for families to check out.

1. The Family Resource Hub –

a. Family Resource Hub Virtual Grand Opening Video

b. Family Resource Hub Flyer

c. Introducing The Family Resource Hub

d. The Family Resource Hub Satellite Food Pantry

2. Youth Mental Health Training for Families – Google link:

3. FREE At-Home COVID Test

4. The Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis Summer Program Guide Announcement (Summer Program Guides Available on 1.21.22)

Summer Activities Corner:

This month, we’d like to share a few resources to help start off your summer well. Below you will find the following items.

1. A slide highlighting a wonderful group that provides many free trainings and posts timely and supportive articles on social media in regard to taking care of those in our care as well as ourselves.

2. Two lists of free sites/packets/games for students.

3. A summer toolkit with social skills books and activities.

We hope that as you progress through the summer with your student that some of these resources might help engage your child in a variety of experiences or activities.

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St Louis County Library - Library Fun At Home:

Enjoy library programs from home! St. Louis County Library provides kids and their caregivers with 24/7 access to story times, STEAM, arts and crafts, and other great activities on our YouTube page.

Parent Packs:

Parent Packs are designed to help young children and their caregivers have meaningful, age-appropriate conversations about important topics. Each Parent Pack includes books and a resource list on a specific theme, such as First Day of School, Death, Potty Training, Friendship and Where do Babies Come From. Adults are encouraged to read the books first, then share with their children.

The kits can be checked out for two weeks. Parent Packs are geared towards families with children in second grade or younger.

Library also has a summer reading program with prizes, but the info is not out yet.

In Person activities around St. Louis (not all free)



Free Read Alouds:

Early Reading Videos:


Educational Kids Videos:


Prodigy Math Game::

Math Fact Practice:

Math Games:

Bedtime Math: h ttps://


Relaxation & Coping Skills

We all need coping skills to manage strong feelings. I have attached some relaxation techniques, coping strategies, and a list of apps you can download.

Problem Solving

Remind your students to STOP and THINK before making a choice while problem solving. I have attached a wheel of choices to help remind students how to solve minor problems, and to talk and work it out before coming to an adult.

Social Skills Resources

I have attached a booklist that covers basic social skills that kids can benefit from. If you are seeking specific social skills group support, I would be happy to share resource referrals with you.

Parent Support

Join us for lots of practical, fun solutions to some of the most common challenges facing parents, grandparents, and anybody who cares for children. You will hear easy-to-learn and effective strategies for children of all ages Check out our Love and Logic program available at Saint Louis Counseling. Call 314-544-3800 or visit for more information.

Numbers to Know

UNITED WAY 2-1-1: If you need help - for anything from day care to rental assistance to counseling to vocational training - Dial 2-1-1* to speak to a trained professional 24/7. Your phone call is confidential and free.

Behavior Health Response (BHR): 24 hours a day, 7 days a week hotline to call for crisis response and mental health help for adults and children (314-469-6644 or 800-811-4760, and TTY: 314-469-3638).

Social Skills Books

*Some books are read aloud on youtube, check it out!

1. My Mouth is a Volcano, By: Julia Cook

2. A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue, By: Julia Cook

3. Personal Space Camp, By: Julia Cook

4. The Worst Day of My Life Ever!, By: Julia Cook

5. It’s Hard to be a Verb!, By: Julia Cook

6. I Just Want to do it My Way!, By: Julia Cook

7. Sorry, I Forgot to Ask!, By: Julia Cook

8. Soda Pop Head, By: Julia Cook

9. If Everybody Did, By: Jo Ann Stover

10. Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen, By: Howard Binkow

11. David Gets in Trouble, By: David Shannon

12. Hunter and His Amazing Remote Control, By: Lori Ann Copeland

13. What If Everybody Did That?, By: Ellen Javernick

14. I Can’t Believe You Said That!, By: Julia Cook

15. What Were You Thinking?, By: Bryan Smith

16. Clark the Shark, By: Bruce Hale

17. Simon Says Pay Attention, By: Daniel Yeager

18. Impulse Control, By: Tonia Caselman

19. The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

20. The Way I Act by Steve Metzger

21. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

22. Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

23. How to Lose all Your Friends by Nancy Carlson

24. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

25. Fair is Fair by Sonny Varela

Relaxation and Coping Skills

1. Settle Your Glitter by Momentous Institute

This app leads students through mindful breathing exercises as the glitter settles and offers time for comparing strength of feelings before/ after.

2. Stop, Breathe & Think Kids: Focus, Calm & Sleep by Stop, Breathe &


This fantastic app is chock-full of calming mindfulness breathing exercise. This is perfect for students needing to calm and refocus.

3. Breathing Bubbles by Momentous Institute

This is one of my favorite apps to use with kids who worry. When the user selects worry as the current feeling, the app asks if the user would like to release a worry or receive a joy. Students can then practice calming breathing exercises.

4. iTouchiLearn Feelings for Preschool Kids Free by Staytoooned

As the title states, this is a great app for young children who are learning to identify feelings. This app is also helpful for students who struggle to recognize facial expressions in others. Users are given a scenario (like the picture below) and asked to select the emoticon that matches how the character is feeling.

5. Social Stories Creator and Library by Touch Autism

This app is great for creating social stories using your own pictures and audio recordings. There are also in-app purchases for ready to use social stories if you need one in a pinch!

6. TF-CBT Triangle of Life by Allegheny Health Network

Animals describe their experiences and learn about how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related. Students also learn how to challenge automatic negative thoughts!

7. FOCUS On the Go! by University of California, Los Angeles

I am a big fan of the FOCUS programs, and this app is a great extension. Students work with Buddy Bear to practice identifying feelings and gathering tools they can use for calming!

8. DreamyKids Meditation App Just for Kids

This app has guided visualizations, meditations, and affirmations that are general or issue-based. The included body scan meditation is perfect for check-ins and cool downs, and there is room for customization with different background sounds and time structures.

9. Mood Tracker

This app is a simple but effective way to track mood over the course of a day, week or more. This is a perfect check-in/check-out app.

10. Emotionary by Funny Feelings

This is essentially a feelings dictionary where students can identify a basic feeling (i.e. happy) and explore related feelings (i.e. joyful, elated, etc.).

This is a fun way to expand emotional


Educational games for grades PreK through 6 that will keep kids engaged and having fun. Topics include math, reading, typing, just-for-fun logic games

FunBrain is the #1 site for online educational games for kids of all ages. (math, grammar, science, spelling, history)

Games ; Splash and Bubbles. Reeftown Rock Adventure. Go on an adventure to find underwater creatures and build your own ocean! ; Donkey Hodie. Art Pals. Donkey …


21 Free Educational Apps for Kids · 1. Thinkrolls Play & Code · 2. Fact Monster · 3. Poptropica · 4. Coolmath Games · 5. Khan Academy Kids · 6. Fish …

28 Free Learning Apps · 1. ABCmouse Early Learning Academy · 2. Duolingo · 3. Zoom · 4. Math Games · 5. GoNoodle · 6. Bamboo · 7. Funbrain Jr · 8. New ..


Sesame Street. Kris Connor / Getty Images. ...

Scholastic. Scholastic is one of the more unique educational websites for kids.

PBS Kids. ...

CoolMath. ...

TIME for Kids. ...

National Geographic Kids. ...

How Stuff Works. ...



25 free educational websites for kids · 1. Khan Academy · 2. NASA Kids' Club · 3. The Conscious Kid · 4. CryptoClub · 5. JumpStart · 6. Zoo Guardians.

Preschool and Elementary Education Websites for Kids: ; Discovery Kids ; e-learning for kids All Subjects ; EduPlace Grades 1-6.

Coping strategies for parents and caregivers of children with special needs;


The following seven empirically tested parenting strategies were the result.

Provide Labeled Praise. ...

Ignore Minor Misbehavior. ...

Become a Student of Child Development. ...

Do Time-Outs Right Along With Quality Time-In. ...

Focus on Prevention of Misbehavior. ...

Take Care of Yourself First. ...

Take Time and Do Nothing.

now your own stress cues. · Take time to do something that is meaningful, relaxing and fun to you and your family. · Practice deep breathing or …

Free webinars to support mental

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Networking is an essential component of parent advocacy. PACCD meetings provide parents the chance to ask questions and share information that benefits both students and families. Topics for PACCD meetings vary by month and all parents and guardians are welcome and encouraged to join. Please email to get more information about PACCD and/or to look for ways to get involved!

Laura Hoff

PACCD President

Let's Talk!

Let’s Talk is an open invitation from Special School District (SSD) to tell us what’s on your mind. ​Let’s Talk is an easy way to submit feedback at your convenience directly to the SSD staff member who can help.


May 10: SSD Board of Education Work Study Session 5:45

May 18: Parkway Board of Education Meeting 7 pm

May 24: SSD Board of Education Business Meeting 5:45

June 14: SSD Board of Education Work Study Session 5:45

June 15: Parkway Board of Education Meeting 7 pm

June 28: SSD Board of Education Business Meeting 5:45

Special School District of St. Louis County

Amy Blumenfeld, Director of Special Education