Friday, June 2, 2017

Thank you for 16-17

As the school year comes to a close - I would like to thank each and all of you. It was a year filled with many memorable moments where you each made both small and large differences in the lives of your students, families, own professional growth, school, profession, and/or community. 

On behalf of our special education and student services department we will be forever grateful for the contributions of our department staff as they will be on new adventures in 17-18 whether it is through retirement, new position in Medford Schools, working in another school district, or pursuing a new career opportunity. 
  • Lucia Albrecht - ELL Teacher
  • Kathy Alexander - MAMS/MASH School Psychologist
  • Kristine Bunkelman - MAES Special Education Paraprofessional 
  • Amber Fettes - Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
  • Anne Fleegel - MAMS Special Education Assistant 
  • Nancy Higgins - MAES Pre-Kindergarten/Early Childhood Special Needs Para 
  • Jill Koenig - School Nurse
  • Jessica Martin - RVA Director of Special Education/School Psychologist
  • Brenda Ann McNary - MAES Special Education Teacher
  • Kim Mrocenzki - MASH Special Education Teacher 
  • Luanne Olson - Special Education Administrative Assistant
  • Nikki Todd - SES Special Education Assistant
  • Melissa Wavrunek - SES Special Education Teacher 
  • Department close friends of Jill Dixon, Jayne Haenel, Carol Schaefer, and Dave Sova
Whenever one of our staff has these opportunities - I always see it not as them leaving us, but rather our special education/student services family continuing to grow larger as they might be moving away or to different roles, but they will always be with us.

We also wish our best to all of our past and present students with an IEP who graduated from MASH or SOAR like Kody, Mikey, Michael, Paige, Ryan, Ashley, and all the rest. 

Certainly our lives have been better for having known one of our SOAR graduates in particular for having her all of her age eligible and school years with us: 
  • Alyssa Willner - our very own "angel" syndrome superstar
We would also be remiss if we didn't recognize the following students: 
  • Mikey Sherwood - who tragically passed away 6 years ago and was fondly remembered by his friend Zech L this school year 
  • Chase Reid - who would have been a graduate of our SOAR program this year if he hadn't wanted to swim with the dolphins up above in Heaven. 
In the same token of appreciation - our returning special education/student services family continues to be strong and through them our programs and services have never been better:  
  • Individuals like Carol Wieman and Sue Laher who have chosen to spend their 30+ year career teaching our special needs students.
  • A mixture of some of the finest individuals in our profession who are in their 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th year or somewhere in-between of dedicating their careers to special education  
  • Teachers who teach both special needs and at-risk students, 
  • Staff who give their all for our students with intellectual, autism, or medically fragile needs through teaching, advocating, and supporting them. 
  • Teachers newer to the field of education who display much promise and growth.
  • Individuals who take on programs like SOAR, MADA, PBIS, VSA, Raider Cafe, EC-SL team teaching that are examples of excellence. 
  • Staff who take the initiative with Home Resource Programs, Mini-Business World, Career Fairs, Recycling, Thanksgiving Meals, ACT testing, ACP planning, and more. 
  • Staff who volunteer time on community-wide councils like literacy, autism, meth, mental health, and early childhood.
  • Teaching our dyslexic students so they gain the confidence of being able to say "I can read" 
  • Students with behavioral challenges like Andrew who have turned the corner with no one being able to pinpoint why, but in my opinion it is because of the extraordinary efforts of his teacher Mrs. Faude and para Mrs. Breeze over years of caring for and teaching him, 
  • Educating our special needs students through the RVA in an online setting, 
  • Staff and students who participated on our Employment First Initiative that will be recognized with a Community Project Award by the Medford Chamber of Commerce, 
  • Formation of a DAILE Living Skills Group at MAMS, 
  • Meth Prevention through Town Hall Meetings on Meth, Marches Against Meth, Campaigns,
  • Autism Awareness Activities in April and taking students out to Prom, 
  • The Taylor County Education Center which has our Medford Alternative High School, SOAR, MADA, RVA, and councils, 
  • Staff like Kellie Keene who cry when students from the Medford Alternative High School graduate,  
  • Past staff like Mr. Boettcher who come to visit, 
  • Autism Consultation Model with Mandy Reinke
  • MASH Special Ed Powering up Paraprofessional Model under Shari Gajewski,
  • Staff like Mrs. Farmer and Mrs. Woller who use their special education and guidance counseling licenses to help at-risk and special needs students with social/emotional/mental health/behavioral challenges,
  • Staff who have general education teaching licenses, but have ventured into our world of special education through Norda Inc or other programs to obtain special education teaching licenses
  • Implementing online SLP, SLP Assistant Role, and providing SL therapy to hundreds of students,
  • Building our Adapted PE program for students,
  • Families Being Involved Workshops and Week of the Young Child Activities,
  • Staff helping Gavin enter the gym for the first time,  
  • Individuals who come to work everyday and are that one person who makes a difference in the life of their student(s)
  • Welcome our new fish (past and present) in Ms. Wieman's room, 
  • Congratulate our Wilson Reading graduates, 
  • Recognize our 8 new adult student graduates of our Medford Adult Diploma Academy, 
  • Professionals that understand how mental health, trauma, reactive attachment, anxiety, and depression can impact student learning in and out of the classroom
  • Our new school psychological services delivery model in partnership with Diagnostic Special Education Program Support Teachers in 17-18
  • New collaborative model between our Pre-Kindergarten and Head Start programs which is being undertaken by our PK teachers
  • OT teamwork model of OT and COTA,
  • Teaching summer school or ESY services,  
  • CARES Model and School Based Mental Health Counseling, 
  • Suicide Prevention QPR trainings and upcoming Walk for Suicide Awareness, 
  • New technology like Eye Gaze, Spot Vision, and Chromebooks, 
  • The building of our current strong ELL program thanks to Lucia Albrecht and working towards a newer model for 17-18 with collaboration between Nicole, Michelle, and Kelsie, 
  • Ms. Kylie and the new School Social Worker position that has become invaluable, 
  • Staff being recognized by WSHA and WECA organizations for being examples of excellence in the fields of collaborative teaching, audiology, and assistive technology.
  • Saying thank you to our long-term substitutes who came in during the year to help us like Teresa Gardner, Chuck Prihoda, and Michelle Arndt
  • We welcome Anne Fleegel to our Special Education Administrative Assistant position, 
  • We welcome back "home" to special education - Ms. Tasha
As we appreciate and recognize the staff who are moving to a new adventure and those who are staying in our crazy, but rewarding field - we welcome with warm greetings and thank those coming to join us: 
  • Alicia Guden - SLP/PST at SES, 
  • Hannah Langfoss - Sped Teacher at SES, 
  • Tabetha Otten - Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, 
  • Jessa Quick - School Psychologist for MAMS/SES, 
  • Samantha DeBroux - Special Education Teacher at MAMS, 
  • Mindy Schwarz - School Nurse, 
  • Michelle Mejia - ELL assistant, and 
  • Kelsie Drake - ELL teacher     
As we start our new adventure path to 17-18 there are multiple teachers and paraprofessionals who will be in new roles, teaching new students, teaching new classes, and/or working in new buildings. Our other staff will continue on their own journey of doing whatever is needed of them on behalf of our students with special needs as they have in the past. 

These challenges, changes, uncertainty, and/or consistency can be exciting and/or scary as we look ahead, but move forward we will in the best interest of making a difference, providing our students with college and career ready skills, and giving opportunities to leave our students, families, school, and community a better place then where we left it. 

It will be a special year in 17-18 as our special class of Jack M, Mike B, Hunter H, Colten R, and all our others will be walking across the graduation stage at MASH. With them being my first Pre-Kindergarten/Early Childhood class - it will have even more special meaning. I hope the parents will feel we have made a difference for each and all of them during their school career. 

To be an educator let alone one in our special education and student services fields - it takes a special person to be able to manage all of the responsibilities at home, in school, and taking care of yourself whether it is for one year or 30+ plus years. To say it simply - I thank you on behalf of our students, families, special education department, and school district. You have each and all made a difference. Keep living your dreams. 

Mr. Joe