Special Education Staff Newsletter

May 2022

Teacher Appreciation Week: May 2-6

Thank you to our amazing special educators and related service providers who continue to inspire and encourage our students and families to keep things moving forward, despite such an unpredictable year. You are everyday superheroes to our students. You build connections and inspire our students everyday. We appreciate you!

Classified Employee Week: May 15-21

From our IAs to bus drivers, data technicians, community liaisons and our district interpreters, these employees are the dedicated workers who play key roles in creating a school environment that contributes to the whole child by promoting student achievement. The Special Education Department proudly recognizes our classified staff.

Congratulations to our Special Education VUSD STARS

The STARS program is for Selfless, Talented, and Reliable Staff members who go above and beyond. Our STARS are nominated by their colleagues for their outstanding work. Please help us celebrate our most recent STARS.

Ursula Roberts: Education Specialist Mission Meadows Elementary

“Ursula goes above and beyond to make learning fun for our students. She talks with the students and knows what they are interested in to make boring work fun. She helps to keep the students interested and engaged while learning.”

Cindy Manion: Education Specialist Monte Vista Elementary

"Cindy has exhibited strong character, is committed to equity, and always strives to improve. She embodies trust. I know I can trust her to partner with me and to support our shared students to the best of her ability."

congratulations to our newly tenured team members!

Welcome to Our New Hires

Cathy Longo: Instructional Assistant - Behavioral Intervention, Hannalei Elementary

Edna Sanchez: Instructional Assistant - Behavioral Intervention, VAVPA

Mojgan Sheikhzadehafshar - Special Education Assistant IV - SH/PH, RMMS

Wendy Conlee, Instructional Assistant II - LH/CH/RSP, Lake Elementary

Vanessa Esparza, Instructional Assistant - Behavioral Intervention, Monte Vista

Sinnia Cordova, Special Education Assistant IV - SH/PH, Alamosa Park Elementary

Professional Development:

Thank you to the special education team members who participated in our department transition collaboration meetings on April 21 & 28th. Ed Specialists (mild/moderate and moderate/severe), ERMHS, related service providers and our lead psychologist had the opportunity to discuss the transition process and ideas for improvement. As a result, the Special Education Department is researching various supplemental interventions for all levels and we need your input. Please take a moment to complete this survey by May 6, 2022 so we can get a better understanding of your student's specific needs.

Special Ed Supplemental Interventions Interest Survey


ESY Brochure

ESY Dates: June 21, 2022 - July 15, 2022

ESY applications were sent home to families in March. Please make sure that all services for ESY are updated for your eligible students. This includes SAI and any related services the IEP team has determined to be appropriate.

If you have added ESY to any IEPs after April 1, 2022, please notify Jean Potter: jeanpotter@vistausd.org.

Additional Resources:

California Autism Professional Training and Information Network, (CAPTAIN): CAPTAIN Website

North Coastal Consortium for Special Education SELPA is proud to partner with the California Autism Professional Training and Information Network, (CAPTAIN) by promoting the use of evidence- based practices for students with Autism.

CAPTAIN is part of the California Department of Education Statewide System of Support in collaboration with Marin County SELPA

Student Resources:

Teen Guide Mental Health & Wellness

Resources for Transition to Adulthood

Free transit for youth is here!


Everyone is invited to attend. This event will bring students, families, staff, and community partners together to learn about our schools and the programs we offer. Please see the flyers for additional information.

Certificated & classified job postings:

Special Education Department

Nereida Gutierrez, Director, Special Education, specialeducationdept@vistausd.org

Steffanie Rupp, Coordinator, Special Education, steffanierupp@vistausd.org

Chris Altona, Principal, Vista Adult Transition, chrisaltona@vistausd.org

Rachel Schmidt, Principal, California Avenue School, rachelschmidt@vistausd.org

Katherine Abraham, Program Supervisor, katherineabraham@vistausd.org

Tracy Zachry, Program Supervisor, tracyzachry@vistausd.org

Jennifer Gruman, Program Supervisor, jennifergruman@vistausd.org

Kursten Carlson, Program Supervisor, kurstencarlson@vistausd.org

Jean Potter, Administrative Secretary, Special Education, jeanpotter@vistausd.org

Araceli Sanchez, Community Liaison, Special Education, aracelisanchezmart@vistausd.org

Doris Cruz, Community Liaison, Special Education, doriscruz@vistausd.org

Special Education Department: specialeducationdept@vistausd.org