All D102 buildings are closed and will reopen on August 3rd, 2021. The Administration Center will be open Monday - Thursday from 8:00am to 4:00pm during summer hours. Please call (708) 482-2400 for all general questions during our summer hours.  

The website is currently being updated. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. 
MIGHTY PATRIOTS
"HEROES VS HEROES"
In a time when our world became virtual, the Mighty Patriots basketball team moved forward during the 2020-21 season and realized “They virtually can’t be stopped”.  

As the Mighty Patriots adapted to the new, remote environment, the traditional end of year battle against local firefighters and police officers looked as if it would not happen this year.  Thankfully the Heroes vs Heroes game was able to happen on May 18.

In full olympic fashion, the players took place in opening/closing ceremonies, games and medal presentations.  At the close, the players were ecstatic, the parents were teary eyed, and our local heroes hearts grew 3 times its size : ) Oh... and the coaches were so proud!!!
 

“I am touched that I was able to be partners with Blake. He is definitely a cool dude. I know the school spends countless amounts of time working with the Mighty Patriots and preparing them to face the world. You folks are the real heroes. He’s a great kid and I’ll team up with him anytime!”, LT Terry Schreiber, Brookfield Police Dept.  

“Partnering up one on one with the players was a really good experience! Please let the Mighty Patriots know how much it meant to us. Please feel free to contact either Dean or me in the future.  We will be glad to assist with this event.  It is such a meaningful experience!”, Pat Lenzi, FF-WSMT FD, Ret. Chief-BKFD FD 

Thanks to the Coaches of the Mighty Patriots, Christy Schwartz and Geri Pasieka and all of the local Fire and Police departments for their participation again this year. 


 



 
Special Education

District 102 offers a full continuum of Special Education services to those students who have undergone a case study evaluation and have been found eligible to receive additional educational support during their school day. Following state and federal laws that establish criteria for eligibility, schools are required to provide services to a child between the ages of 3 and 21 to address the adverse effect of a disability on his/her education.

Special education is instruction and related services provided by special education personnel or by a general education program that has been modified through the use of special education support services, supplementary aids, or other special programming. Related services are support services that may be provided to assist a student in accessing his/her academic program. Related services include, but are not limited to, the following: occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological services, social work services, and speech and language services. The student’s individual education plan (IEP) will determine the services and amount of time needed to meet the student’s academic or behavioral needs.

Students with disabilities who do not qualify for an individualized education program under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, may qualify for services under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 if the student (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of a physical or mental impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment. Questions about the identification, assessment and placement of students should be directed to Terry Sofianos Wohlgenant, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education at 708-215-7016.

We have created a Volunteer Special Education Parent Ambassador Program to help parents of children with special needs understand some of the basics of special education in La Grange 102 while also providing interested parents with a sense of welcoming connection and social support. Ambassadors can help parents to network with one another and may also be able to provide suggestions for outside resources, based on their own individual experiences. Padres embajadores voluntarios de educación especial 2019-2020


Special Education Department Action Steps 2020-2021
CLICK LINK ABOVE FOR PERIODIC PROGRESS UPDATES. 
These action steps are directly related to the District's overall Strategic Plan goals.
Strategic Plan New Actions as of October 2019
  1. Provide support to parents of students with special needs through an online support group, Volunteer Parent Ambassadors, and the Special Needs Advisory Panel during the pandemic learning year.

  2. Ensure high-quality instruction for students with disabilities participating in both remote and hybrid learning models.

  3. Integrate principles of equity into all activities of the special education department and contribute to ongoing efforts to support students with disabilities in a way that promotes equity and diversity throughout the District.

Announcements
LADSE VACCINATION CLINIC FOR THOSE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
We have scheduled our next Special Needs Vaccination Clinic for Saturday, May 22nd from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. This clinic is specifically designed for those with special needs and their caretakers. It will take place at the Chicago Autism Academy located at 21133 S. 80th Ave, Frankfort. We will have 600 appointments available during that time. We will have quiet rooms available for those individuals with auditory sensory issues and for those with more mobility issues, we will have a drive-through option. We will try to be as accommodating as possible for the needs of all individuals

Please share the link below with anyone who you feel would be best suited for this clinic.

https://events.juvare.com/IL-IDPH/bb7a7477-6d32-44bb-94de-e1e46127468f/

Voucher Code:
CAAFIRST

If anyone has questions, they can email kweber@willcountyhealth.org
 
Who: ESY Eligible students, ECE through 7th grade
How: In-person and Remote Options Available 
When: Monday – Thursday: Week of June 14th through Week of July 19th 
NO CLASSES WEEK OF JULY 4th HOLIDAY 
Where: Forest Road School (grades 1-7)  and Barnsdale Road School (ECE & Kindergarten) 
In-person Time: 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Remote Time: TBD
ONLY ELIGIBLE STUDENTS MAY REGISTER. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR CHILD'S CASE MANAGER IF YOU ARE UNCERTAIN ABOUT ELIGIBILITY FOR ESY.
If you wish your child to participate, please complete this form in its entirety for EACH child you wish to register. 
REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS Thursday, April 29, 2021. THERE IS NO FEE FOR ESY.
It can be challenging for young children or those with disabilities to wear a mask. This resource may help parents in teaching their children this new essential life skill. Teaching Your Child to Wear a Mask: Tips and Guidelines
These new videos have been developed for parents and were recently sent to the district by the Ilinois State Board of Education. Click HERE. They cover a variety of topics, including helping your child with routines, communication, and academics at home. 
 
Programs and Services

What is dyslexia?

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”  (International Dyslexia Association, 2002)

There are other learning conditions that may or not be related to dyslexia, and include dyscalculia (affecting numbers and calculation) and dysgraphia (affecting written expression).


How does the district screen students for dyslexia?

La Grange District 102 is ahead of the curve, compared to many districts in the state and across the country, in early identification and treatment of dyslexia. This status is the result of years of collaboration between parents and district staff that has resulted in the acquisition of appropriate reading interventions and training of staff. All students in kindergarten and first grade are benchmarked using the FastBridge system as a dyslexia screener every fall. This assessment is also available to be used for any student at any grade level who may be suspected of having dyslexia. 

The information obtained from FastBridge during the three benchmark periods (fall, winter, and spring) is reviewed by the school psychologist, principal, reading specialist, instructional coach, and grade level team members. Typically, this data review starts through focusing on the bottom quartile of student scores (lowest 25%), and these scores are examined in light of other sources of data. These other sources may include classroom-based assessments, teacher observations, and a Fountas and Pinnell reading level test. If two sources of data are contradictory, the team will engage in the "triangulation of data," looking at three or more sources. At times, additional informal diagnostic assessments may be conducted by the classroom teacher or reading specialist. There are no specific "cut scores" assigned to eligibility for tiered reading intervention or classroom differentiation in the district. Instead, the practice of examining the bottom quartile of scores is a starting point and a general guideline to direct the problem-solving data review process. Scores above this level are also reviewed if other sources of data and/or teacher observation indicate concerns with a particular student's acquisition of early literacy or basic reading skills. 

For students in grades 2-8, sources of data that are used when considering the possibility of dyslexia may also include NWEA MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) as well as the IAR (Illinois Assessment of Readiness), along with standards-based assessments. 

Although school-based evaluations do not directly assess and diagnose students for dyslexia, La Grange District 102 school psychologists are well-versed in spotting the signs of dyslexia and how this condition affects the development of literacy skills. The needs of students with private diagnoses of dyslexia are carefully considered in order to ensure that instruction matches educational needs, whether that results in special education, tiered instruction, and/or differentiation of instruction within the general education classroom.  


What is the state guidance for educating students with dyslexia?

The state of Illinois has provided guidance in the form of a handbook for parents, educators, and students: The Dyslexia Guide (2019).


How are students with dyslexia and related conditions served in the district?

Depending on the severity of a student's condition, the student may qualify for special education services, a 504 accommodation plan, tiered intervention, and/or classroom intervention strategies. Most students with dyslexia who meet the criteria for special education do so under the category of "Specific Learning Disability."

Multi-sensory interventions continue to be the gold standard for reading instruction of students with dyslexia. Every school in the district utilizes a form of multi-sensory reading instruction for those students who require that type of instruction. Both general and special education teachers have received training in some form of these interventions. Many students with dyslexia who receive special education in our district receive instruction in Fundations, Orton-Gillingham, or Wilson. Several of our special education teachers have received the highest level of certification through Wilson.

Additionally, direct instruction and computer-assisted instruction can be used with students who have dyslexia. Which intervention to use is a highly individualized decision, informed by data and a student's unique profile. 
More information coming soon
RESOURCE
CONNECTIONS
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
STANDALONE RELATED SERVICES
ADDITIONAL PROGRAMMING THROUGH LADSE
OUTPLACEMENT CONSIDERATIONS
 
More information coming soon
Additional Resources

Administration
The special education administrator plays a key and multi-faceted role in the education of our students. Special education administrators determine educational standards and goals for special education programs, ensure that those programs comply with federal, state, and local laws, set policies and procedures for special education teachers and staff who are implementing those programs, review and evaluate all programs, mediate disputes between parents and schools, and attend community meetings when critical special education issues are discussed.

Special Education Teachers
A special education teacher is assigned as a case manager for each eligible student. The teacher oversees the implementation of the child’s IEP and provides a contact point for the parents. If the student has an aide working with them, the special education teacher provides the supervision and training for the aide. Special education teachers also provide consultation to classroom teachers and may co-teach or provide small group instruction within the general education classroom. All buildings are staffed appropriately to meet the needs identified in students’ IEPs.

Early Childhood Teachers
The early childhood program, both special education and blended classrooms, are staffed by teachers certified in both early childhood education and special education. Early childhood teachers oversee the implementation of the child’s IEP and provide a contact point for the parents. If the student has an aide working with them, the special education teacher provides the supervision and training for the aide.

Nursing Staff
The school nurse is a liaison between school personnel, family, health care professionals, and the community. The school nurse ensures adequate communication and collaboration among the school staff, family, physician, and providers of community resources for children identified with health needs resulting in eligibility or as a related condition to a broader disability.

Social Workers
The school social worker is available to provide counseling for any student whose social, emotional or behavioral needs are impacting their educational performance. The social worker and classroom teachers work together to obtain a functional behavior assessment and to develop positive behavioral intervention plans. Social work services may be provided in the classroom or through pullout sessions with individual or small groups of students. Like all other services, social work services are identified within the students IEP; however, students may access social work through general education if the issue is unrelated to the eligibility category.

Psychologists
School psychologists serve a variety of roles in the District. These include being a data and problem solving leader for each school's MTSS (Multi-tiered System of Support), serving as the Local Education Agent (LEA) at IEP meetings, overseeing requests for special education evaluations, conducting evaluations as appropriate, providing some direct services to students through counseling and mentoring, consulting with general and special educators, and serving as part of school data and crisis management teams. La Grange District 102 employs its own school psychologists, and there is one psychologist assigned to each building in the District. 

Speech/Language Pathologists
The Speech/Language Pathologist screens, evaluates, and provides therapy for those students having articulation or language needs that directly impact their educational performance. All kindergarten students are screened for speech/language delays within the first weeks of school, and parents are contacted if there is a need to do a more formal evaluation.  Speech services may be provided in the classroom or through pullout sessions with individual or small groups of students.

Occupational and Physical Therapists
For those students found eligible, Occupational or Physical Therapists provide individual or small-group, school-based therapy. These services address those motor needs that impact on a student’s access to the educational environment. School-based services do not take the place of any private therapy a child may need for rehabilitation.

Vision and Hearing Itinterants
Cooperative Association for Special Education (CASE) provides itinerant teacher support for those students having a vision, hearing or physical mobility needs that impacts their ability to participate in the school setting. The Student Support Team will refer a student to CASE for an assessment and determination of eligibility for the service.
Board of Education Presentations
Special Needs Advisory Panel (SNAP)
2019-2020 Meetings
Monday, September 16th, 9am - 11am
Wednesday, December 4th, 4pm - 6pm
Tuesday, March 3rd, 9am - 11am
SNAP Website (Agendas, Resources and Presentations)

Notices, Additional Forms, and Other Helpful Information
Important Forms and Notices Other Helpful Information
Procedure regarding classroom observations
Parents and guardians, or private providers, with parental or guardian permission, may observe individual students in classroom settings for the purpose of educational collaboration. The District has a guideline of one hour of observation per trimester per observer in order to minimize educational disruptions. At times, exceptions are made to this procedure, with agreement from the District. Any variations to the guideline must be granted by the Assistant Superintendent for Special Education, Terry Sofianos Wohlgenant, at 708-215-7016 or sofianoste@sd102.net.

If small group observations are requested, permission to observe the group must be granted by the parents or guardians of the other individual students in the group. Each observer is accompanied by a District professional of like-role or background. Parent or guardian observations are accompanied by an administrator. The guidelines and procedures around classroom observations ensure that meaningful parental participation takes place while also protecting the confidentiality of individual students.  Procedure regarding homebound/hospital tutoring
Home/hospital services are provided to a student when a physician licensed to practice medicine in all of its branches, a licensed physician assistant (PA), or a licensed Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) determines that the student will, or is anticipated to be, absent from school for a minimum of 10 days during the school year due to a medical condition. The goal of home/hospital instruction (HHI) is to afford the student experiences equivalent to those afforded to other students at the same grade level. It is designed to enable the student to return to the classroom without having fallen behind. Thus, the substance or content of the instruction, generally academic, is to enable the student to remain on pace with the other students in his or her class. Detailed information regarding eligibility is found in the memo below. If you believe that your child may be eligible for homebound tutoring, please contact your school nurse. 
Procedure regarding recording meetings or remote learning sessions
La Grange District 102 promotes and encourages the free and open exchange of information between parents and staff members during meetings in order to best serve students. For this reason, the use of audio, visual and other recording devices at IEP, Section 504 and other student meetings, as well as meetings between school personnel and parents/guardians, shall be prohibited. The prohibition on the recording of meetings also applies to remote meetings that may take place by video or phone through formats such as Zoom and/or Google Hangouts. During alternative learning days, where remote learning opportunities are provided, the recording of instructional, counseling, or therapy sessions provided by teachers and/or related service personnel is strictly prohibited. 

Exceptions regarding the recording of meetings may be made on a case-by-case basis when a parent/guardian, student or staff member is a qualified person with a disability and/or has a language barrier that prevents his/her access to or meaningful participation at a meeting. The decision regarding whether recording the meeting is a reasonable accommodation will be made in the sole discretion of a School District administrator.

Presentations & Handouts
Organizations and Cooperatives
Effective Dispute Resolution/Complaints

EARLY RESOLUTION
Early resolution is an informal means for districts and parents to resolve issues at the local level. It is not uncommon for disagreements to occur between parents and school districts regarding a child's special education services. Those disagreements can often be resolved at the local level with open communication between the parties. The process of resolving disagreements at the local level can be a quick alternative to using a state-sponsored dispute resolution system, and can have the added benefit of improving communication between both parties in the future.

If an individual believes that a school district has not complied with the law or that a child's educational rights has been violated, the individual should try to resolve the issues with the local school district, through the following steps:

  • Communicating directly with the school staff, principal, superintendent, or director of the special education cooperative. 

Beyond each school's principal, La Grange District 102 has two district-level administrators who serve as complaint managers: Terry Sofianos Wohlgenant, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education sofianoste@dist102.k12.il.us, and David Holt, Director of Human Resources and Public Relations holtda@dist102.k12.il.us.

  • Requesting an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting to discuss the issues with the IEP team.
  • Utilizing the systems found here on the ISBE web page, including filing a due process or making a formal complaint. 
 

 

CLICK HERE FOR ADDITIONAL UPDATES ON OUR BLOG, "EVERY CHILD."

COVID-19 LETTERS TO FAMILIES OF STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
April 6, 2020 LETTER TO FAMILIES REGARDING SPECIAL EDUCATION REMOTE LEARNING PLANS

March 13, 2020 COVID-19 LETTER TO PARENTS REGARDING ALTERNATIVE LEARNING, STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES, ELIGIBILITY EVALUATIONS, AND RE-EVALUATIONS

October 2019

October is both Dyslexia Awareness Month and Physical Therapy Month.

La Grange District 102 is ahead of the curve, compared to many districts in the state and across the country, in early identification and treatment of dyslexia. This status is the result of years of collaboration between parents and district staff that has resulted in the acquisition of appropriate reading interventions and training of staff. Although school-based evaluations do not directly assess and diagnose students for dyslexia, our school psychologists are well-versed in spotting the signs of dyslexia and how this condition affects the development of literacy skills. We also carefully consider the needs of students with private diagnoses of dyslexia in order to ensure that instruction matches educational needs, whether that results in special education, tiered instruction, and/or differentiation of instruction within the general education classroom.

Multi-sensory interventions continue to be the gold standard for reading instruction of students with dyslexia. Every school in the district utilizes a form of multi-sensory reading instruction for those students who require that type of instruction. Both general and special education teachers have received training in some form of these interventions. Many students with dyslexia who receive special education in our district receive instruction in Fundations, Orton-Gillingham, or Wilson. Some of our special education teachers have received the highest level of certification through Wilson. In fact, I know of no other district with such a large group of teachers who have received this level of distinction. 

Additionally, direct instruction and computer-assisted instruction can be used with students who have dyslexia. Which intervention to use is a highly individualized decision, informed by data and a student's unique profile. 

Physical therapy is a related service for those students who qualify. This related service is not clinical in nature, but instead functional and school-based, and requires a doctor's note for the specific concerns. We are lucky to have two full-time physical therapists in our district who are directly employed by La Grange 102. They are integral members of school-based teams and collaborate closely with all staff in order to provide this highly specialized service to students who are eligible. 

Terry Sofianos Wohlgenant
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

September 2019

Our focus in September is to learn as much as we can about where our students are at with their learning and development at the start of the school year in order to chart our path forward. It is also a time to establish important learning and management routines for individual students and classroom environments. Developing relationships and lines of communication are also major priorities.


We are in the process of shifting our curriculum-based measurement assessments for progress monitoring from AIMSweb to FastBridge. The FastBridge system is a web-based assessment suite that provides us with the ability to track basic pre-literacy, numeracy, literacy, and mathematics skills and concepts. Some of our students are assessed with measures for both reading and math, while others may just be assessed with one or the other, or perhaps neither, depending on their IEP. We hope to have FastBridge fully up and running by the end of the month. Your child may be assessed with another type of curriculum-based measurement until the system is fully operable. 

There have also been some updates to the way we conduct meetings and provide you with advance paperwork as well as service logs for related services. Please see the announcement sidebar for more information. 

We hope that your child and your family has had time to establish your own back-to-school routines and are well on your way to a successful school year!

Terry Sofianos Wohlgenant, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

August 2019

The special education team has already begun to plan for a successful and positive school year for all of the students in our community. Much of the summer was spent communicating about the needs of our learners and ensuring that instructional materials and methods would be in place right at the start of the school year.

Part of our educational planning included the writing of an academic intervention manual, compiled by a small group of special education staff, under the coordination of Ella Farmer, a former psychologist for Ogden and Cossitt, who will now assume the role of psychologist and Lead Special Educator at Congress Park this school year. The intent of the intervention manual is to provide guidance to staff about best practices and research for reading, math, and writing interventions which will greatly enhance the individual education planning process. The creation of the intervention manual was one of two final special education department goals for the 2018-2019 school year.

The second final special education department goal for last school year was the creation of an online parent handbook with a projected publishing date of August. Although the handbook is ready to go live, the district is in the midst of finalizing a total revamp of its website at this time. The special education parent handbook will debut in September as part of the new website conversion. In advance of that time, certain components of the handbook, such as new resources available through the state, will be posted on the current website prior to the start of the school year.

We are also pleased to announce the debut of volunteer Special Education Parent Ambassadors. This is a new and exciting development in our district that is intended to provide interested families with parent-to-parent camaraderie and support. If you are a parent of a student with special needs, please consider applying for this role. https://forms.gle/khLgJwGpbSwzYymC7

Finally, we would like to welcome our new assistant director of special education, Traci Milledge, to the team, along with several new special education teachers and specialists. Look for an upcoming profile of Traci in the next community newsletter. On behalf of the special education department, I wish you a pleasant start to the school year, full of wonder, joy, and discovery.

Terry Sofianos Wohglenant, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

June 2019 NEWSLETTER

Nov 2018 NEWSLETTER



2018-2019 Updates
February/March 2019

The months of February and March are very busy ones for future planning purposes in special education. We are currently working on refining special education enrollment and staffing projections for next year, along with completing our series of observations of staff for evaluations. We kicked off our spring parent education series, "Special Education 101," and we also prepared a presentation to the board. At the board meeting, our new assistant director of special education for the 2019-2020 school year, Mrs. Traci Milledge, was introduced. There was also an update on specific activities in the department, along with a featured presentation by students, staff, and a parent involved in the Nora Project. It was an inspiring and meaningful glimpse into this general and special education partnership that serves to build empathy for people with disabilities. Currently taking place at Forest Road and Cossitt, we are working to expand the program to more schools within the district. More information about the Nora Project can be found here: https://www.thenoraproject.ngo/  

January 2019
Although January marks the start of the calendar year, planning is well underway in the special education department for next school year, more than half a year in the future. During the winter, we take stock of our student numbers and begin to track projections for staffing and programming purposes. Our special education department goals have once again been updated, and plans are already underway for areas of focus for next school year. 
I think you will see that excellent progress has been made on the special education department goals, and several are currently being fully implemented. 
Stay warm out there!

December 2018
As the chronological year comes to a close, we are only midway through our academic year. There has been much accomplished in the district’s special education department, including the creation of the Special Needs Advisory Panel (SNAP); increased communication with staff, families, and the community through our November newsletter; the first phase of the creation of a parent handbook; and the announcement of a winter and spring parent education series. Each case manager has provided the first round of IEP benchmark updates for the academic year to parents and guardians. Individual student progress continues to be carefully monitored by school-based teams in order to determine whether or not current interventions are sufficient to meet student needs. On a systems level, the department has begun to develop an internal manual of special education interventions to assist with problem-solving, including the research, guidelines for implementation, and integrity checklists. Our special education teams already do an excellent job of engaging in data-based decision-making to address student needs, but the intervention manual will help to make this process even more effective through collecting intervention information into one central location. The work of continuous improvement is ongoing, and both the development of a manual for parents as well as an intervention manual for staff are examples of District 102’s efforts to strive to achieve more. 

We wish you a safe and happy holiday season, and we hope you enjoy your winter break with your children. 

Terry Sofianos, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

November 2018
The week of November 12-16, 2018, is designated as the annual School Psychology Awareness Week. In LaGrange District 102, we believe that school psychologists serve essential and fundamental roles for all students in the areas of academic and social-emotional learning, data management, problem-solving, and mental health. Each of the schools in our district has a full-time school psychologist, with the exception of our early learning school, which is served by two part-time school psychologists. The work of school psychologists includes serving as building-based leaders for data-based decision-making within our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). They also perform evaluations as part of the special education eligibility process, facilitate meetings, and provide consultation to teachers, administrators, and families.

The National Association of School Psychologists describes the theme for this year's School Psychology Awareness Week below.

This year's theme is "Unlock Potential. Find Your Password!"  A password is a personal key for unlocking any number of areas of potential in our lives. Our goal is to connect with how modern youth and adults unlock things (e.g., gaming levels, phones, devices, codes) and to highlight how thinking about specific skills, assets, or characteristics as "passwords" can lead to positive growth. School psychologists are particularly skilled at assisting students and staff in unlocking the resources, proactive and preventive skills, and positive connections necessary to unlock one's full potential to thrive in school and life.

More information about the week as well as school psychology, in general, can be found by clicking here.

Terry Sofianos, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

October 2018
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. The International Dyslexia Association is promoting the "ZYX Challenge," which is a way to simulate the experience of dyslexia in a way that is fun, challenging and encourages awareness of the difficulties encountered by the many children and adults who experience dyslexia. Similar to the Muscular Dystrophy Association's "Ice Bucket Challenge," the "ZYX Challenge" encourages those who are not able to complete the challenge to consider donating to the International Dyslexia Association and/or posting their results on social media in order to raise awareness, using the hashtags #ZYXChallenge and #UntilEveryoneCanRead. I plan to attempt the challenge on my personal Twitter account, @tersofianos, during the month. Check it out to see how I do! The challenge was sent out to principals to share with their staff as an option for adults to attempt the challenge as well as for teachers to consider introduction of the challenge to students in order to increase disability awareness. Here is a link to the IDA's web page for Dyslexia Awareness, as well as instructions for the "ZYX Challenge." Feel free to email me to let me know how you do if you choose to participate. If you are on Twitter and choose to post your results, please tag me. Good luck!

Warm regards, 

Terry Sofianos, MA, MSEd
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

September 2018
During the month of September, I completed my series of meet-and-greets with parents and guardians, which allowed me the opportunity to connect with families in every school. Because these were smaller gatherings, conversations were more personal and in-depth about such topics as the history of special education in 102, individual student journeys, and hopes for the future of special education in the district. Additionally, the Board of Education received an update on the current activities of the special education department as well as plans for this year. In particular, the board learned more about the plan of work for the newly formed Student Needs Advisory Panel, or SNAP 102.

Warm regards, 

Terry Sofianos, MA, MSEd
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

August 2018
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year!

One of the most unique aspects of working in schools is the opportunity to have a fresh new start twice a year - with the rest of the world each January, but also with our educational community in August and September. Each school year is precious in the life of a child, and it brings new experiences, relationships, and challenges. During the past few weeks, special educators have been preparing for a successful school year for our many students. We are excited to welcome new families as well as reconnect with those that are returning. 

As the new assistant superintendent for special education, I started my position in the district July 1st. Since I started, I have had the privilege of meeting many staff members and some parents as well as a few students. I was able to tour our extended school year rooms, and I met with each principal and assistant principal to learn about the uniqueness of each school, as well as to receive brief tours of the buildings. Our special education director, Kateri Quiñónez, and I, have invested in our collaboration as co-administrators for special education, mindfully looking at areas of individual and also shared responsibility. Yesterday, we met with all of our special education staff to kick off the year, and we reviewed the Updated Special Education Goals with them.

The Updated Special Education Goals have been revised in accordance with the meeting that was held with parent and community members on May 18th. Additionally, progress updates and next steps have been added in order to orient everyone to the plan of work for the coming school year and beyond. 

The final objective of the updated goals includes the creation of a Special Needs Advisory Panel for the district, which will be known as SNAP 102. Two parents and one special education staff member from each building, along with at least two general educators in the district, along with Kateri and I, will serve on this committee, which will meet four times during the coming school year. The committee will address several of the objectives in the goals and will also provide a venue for ongoing collaboration between educators and parents. 

In an effort to provide equity of voice for all stakeholders, a brief application for consideration as a member of the group will be sent to parents of students who receive special education services. This way, we can strive for representation from a variance of student ages and disabilities. Special education staff members will also be recruited through an application process with the aim of creating SNAP 102 members who represent the disciplines of teaching, social work, school psychology, speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other related services. Care will also be taken to represent the full range of ages in our district, from early childhood through eighth grade. 

The first meeting of SNAP 102 will take place in early October in order to provide ample time for the assembly of a representative group. Meeting dates and times are currently being set and will accompany the applications, which will be available and sent out to parents and staff during the week of August 27th. 

I am eager to meet you and learn about your children. I will be holding informal meet-and-greets in each building (with a combined Barnsdale and Forest Road meeting) during the next few weeks. I will post the confirmed dates and times for these on this website as well as in an email blast. 

On behalf of everyone who is involved in our special education community, we look forward to our ongoing collaboration and continuous improvement in special education in order to serve the children and families of our district at the highest possible level. 

Have a wonderful school year!

Warm regards, 

Terry Sofianos, MA, MSEd
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

June 2018
As we end the school year, there are many things to note in accomplishments.

It's easy to see the excitement build at the end of the school year and then suddenly, the last day with students is here, followed by a couple of days of staff time together, and now the halls are quiet.  While ESY and summer school seemed a long way off, both programs began on June 11.  We are very fortunate to have several district staff members committed to work during their summer vacation.

A meeting was held on May 18 with a group of parents, special education staff members and district administration to review the special education department goals and objectives.  Parents, teachers and administrators collaborated in updating some of the department objectives that will make them more understandable for all.  The changes have been made and will be posted on the district website in the special education section.  Along with that information, selected handouts from professional development presentations will also be posted in the special education section of the website.

A number of Cossitt staff members took part in the 3rd Annual Ella's Race for a CURE 5K Fun Run/Walk, 1 Mile Walk & Kids Dash at Bemis Woods South in Western Springs on Sunday, June 3 to benefit Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE).

It truly is a great feeling to be able to end my career, having had the opportunity to know and work with the special education staff for District 102.  They are passionate and dedicated to meeting the needs of all students.  Teaching is far more challenging today than it ever has been.  Not only are teachers obligated to the academic needs, but there is a strong focus on the social-emotional needs as well. The experiences that I have had with this group of professionals is memorable and provides a very positive outlook for the future.  I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of LaGrange School District 102 and leave with very positive thoughts, but a heavy heart, knowing I will miss working with this incredible team and the wonderful students and parents.

Joyce Powell, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

April 2018
It appears that winter intends to linger around a little more, so I hope your spring break allowed you opportunities for rest, relaxation and maybe a little sunshine.

April is National Autism Awareness Month!  I have included several links for information on autism, one of which, Autism Speaks, is an organization that is dedicated to advancing research into causes and better treatments for autism spectrum disorders.  Much of this is accomplished through fundraising and collaboration with community groups.  Links to the Autism Society of America and the Autism Research Institute are also available.

The color for Autism Awareness Month is blue, and on April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, organizations around the world promote this day with the campaign to "Light It Up Blue".  I encourage you to explore the links included to raise awareness and increase understanding of autism spectrum disorders.

LaGrange School District 102 offers a continuum of services to meet the needs of our special education students.  I would like to highlight and give special recognition to the teachers and related service personnel currently providing services for students in our Connections programs. 

Barnsdale Staff

Claire Fleming (Teacher),  Amy Kalas (Speech and Language),  Dr. Justin Zelenka (Physical Therapist),  Joyce Kalsch (Occupational Therapist), Rebecca Tatarre (Social Worker), Thomasina Hamilton (Paraprofessional), Bonnie Stern (Paraprofessional), Charlotte Slattery (Paraprofessional)

Forest Road Staff

Lorie Reyes and Nicole Skiniotes (Teachers),  Sarah Dolezal (Social Worker),  Emily Monteagudo and Mary T. Santucci (Speech and Language),  Kathryn Champagne (Occupational Therapist),  Dr. Justin Zelenka (Physical Therapist),  Andrea Guelfi (Paraprofessional),  Jane Uckerman (Paraprofessional),
Dahlia Vargas (Paraprofessional)

The Special Education Department was very fortunate to hear Dr. Paula Kluth speak during our RSD time on March 21st.  Dr. Kluth is a well-known consultant, author, advocate and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities.  The goal of her approach and inclusive strategies is to create a more responsive and engaging experience for students.  Dr. Kluth is a former special education teacher and inclusion facilitator.   She is the author and co-author of more than 15 books. The feedback from our staff on Dr. Kluth's presentation was extremely positive. 

I have also included information from our district Occupational Therapist Team: Kathyrn Champagne, Dr. Risa Umeno, Joyce Kalsch, and Satyra Harris.

April is National Occupational Therapy Month! School-based occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidenced-based profession that enables students to successfully engage within their educational environment. Occupational therapy is defined as a related service and helps to support children to access their general education curriculum. District 102 occupational therapists collaborate with school teams, consult with teachers and parents, and work directly with students individually or in small groups. They may provide services related to adaptation of the physical environment, analyze habits and routines, improve seating posture, address visual-motor integration and eye-hand coordination skills, and self-care needs such as feeding or managing clothing at school. Click here for tips and tricks regarding management of classroom tools, hand strengthening activities, and handwriting help provided by your District 102 occupational therapy team!

Joyce Powell, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education

Contains information for parents interested in learning more about special education eligibility, processes, and procedures in La Grange District 102. Additional information is located throughout this website. 

Does my child need special education?