Fall / Winter 2009

Boundless Playground of Corkscrew Community

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Barb Southwick experienced the same frustrations with exclusion as many parents of children with disabilities. Barb has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the benefits of inclusion. Through her efforts and those of her “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” and with the support of the Collier County Department of Exceptional Student Education, the Florida Diagnostic Learning Resources System/Suncoast Associate Center, the Family Network on Disabilities, and the Florida Inclusion Network/FGCU, she arranged placement of Professional Resource Libraries in 30 Collier County Schools and Abilities Awareness training at ten local schools. These efforts continue during the coming school year.

Barb and Cassy Pangaribaun continued their efforts to transcend the classroom by forming a non-profit organization and raising money for the installation of a Boundless Playground at their children’s school, Corkscrew Elementary. Through their dedication, support of their group, and the contributions from the community and volunteers, their vision of an accessible playground has come to fruition. Now children with and without disabilities can learn and play alongside one another. Now all children with disabilities, including those with severe disabilities, can have a more “typical” school experience.
Their hope is that the Boundless Playground will become the standard and model for all new playgrounds across the nation.

The spirit of dedication and innovation evidenced by Barb’s and Cassy’s accomplishments reflects the dream of fully inclusive communities for everyone! The organizers advocated for the playground to be open to all community members after school hours. As a result of the School Board’s approval, the playground truly lives up to its name as a boundless recreational area that everyone can enjoy!

Follow this Web link for more information about the boundless playgrounds: http://www.boundlessplaygrounds.org/

Many hands made the work go faster.

Stan pitches in to help.

Stan Weser, FIN/FGCU
March 2010

Student Turns Passion for Art Into a Vocation

LAKELAND — Ian Millican’s voice may be softened by autism, but his art speaks volumes. The work is intensely colorful and full of whimsy.

“It is the path he uses to articulate feelings that are hard to express,” his mother, Terry Millican, explains.

Ian is crafting his artistic flair into a thriving business, and learning to use his talents for more than just an emotional outlet. With the help of caring parents and partners such as Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), he’s been in training to turn his love of art into his own small business, Ian’s ArTs.

As an entrepreneur in the Start-Up-Florida project, Millican received assistance in discovering his professional strengths and completing his business plan. He puts his designs on T-shirts and other display items. His artwork is on shirts in Florida schools and church organizations. An Ian’s ArTs Web site is in the making and due out soon.

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. APD is highlighting the contributions of Millican and others with disabilities to the work force.

As a high school senior, Millican’s difficult road is made a little easier by great friends and a strong support system. A typical teenager in many ways, “Ian loves sleeping in, Web surfing, and cartoon animation,” Terry Millican said. Disney is a personal favorite. Art sales and giving PowerPoint presentations are part of his business marketing strategy.

Millican’s immediate business goal is pure and simple — he would like to earn enough money to purchase Disney World annual passes for himself and his sister. He hopes to save enough money over the next several months to accomplish this important objective.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn and work in their communities. For more about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit www.APDcares.org.

Ian Millican enjoys his work in the T-shirt studio

Written By Kimberly Tharpe
Reprinted with permission from the Tallahassee Democrat
October 15, 2009

National Inclusive Schools Week Decmber 7-11, 2009 in Broward County

Every Broward County school had the opportunity to be part of the celebration to recognize the dedication and positive accomplishments of schools, families and communities in promoting inclusive education. This year’s theme, “Inclusive Technologies”, provided a focus on the potential of technology to provide access to a quality education and better educational outcomes for ALL students in inclusive settings.

Schools were invited to “toot their horns” by sharing their achievements in implementing inclusive educational practices while highlighting the role of technology in their success! Each school participating in the district-wide event submitted a DVD with video demonstrating their accomplishments. These videos are scheduled to air on the Broward Education and Communication Network (BECON) along with clips posted on the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department website. Four schools: Bennett Elementary, Tequesta Trace Middle, Mondarch High and Baby Boomers Preschool each won a Grand Prize – a Flip Video Camera! This new technology tool will surely enhance each school’s inclusive practices!

All schools received the National Inclusive Schools Week Celebration Kit from www.inclusiveschools.org, including great ideas and activities for building inclusive schools and communities.

Submitted by: Barbara Krakower, FIN/Broward
Date: February 2010

Differentiating Instruction: Next Steps!

The Florida Inclusion Network (FIN)/Broward has been providing professional development in differentiating instruction (DI) to hundreds of teachers across the district. Differentiating Instruction is a broad topic and teachers have requested more support, resources, and tools to implement the approaches shared during learning activities. In collaboration with FDLRS/Reach, FIN has created an online resource for educators which is accessible on a district wide communication system: Communicating Across Broward (CAB).

This new CAB conference, titled “Differentiating Instruction: Next Steps!”, provides tools for educators to dig deeper to meet the needs of their students and share information with colleagues. The conference provides the following topics: “Know Your Students” (interest and learning profile inventories), “Strategies and Activities” (exit cards, response cards, choice boards, cubing, and more), “Presentations”, and “DI General Information” (powerpoint presentations and handouts from the K-8 Access Center, Dare to Differentiate Wikispace, and our distrct…all ready to review and share with colleagues). Other resources found on the conference site include “DI by Content Area” (focused presentations and handouts related to Math, Reading,Writing, Science and tiered lessons) and “References and Resources” (websites and print resources).

The feedback has been huge and extemely positive! Teachers and coaches are excited to have this resource to help link what they’ve learned in professional development activities to meaningful application in the classroom.

The conference is not a one-way street. Differentiating Instruction: Next Steps! provides a forum for sharing what’s working, how a teacher adapts an idea and makes it their own, and critical conversations about effective classroom practices. FIN/Broward is excitied to take a leading role in the district to help teachers meet the needs of ALL students!

Submitted by: Barbara Krakower, FIN/Broward
Date: February 2010

Broward County’s 2009 DisAbilities EXPO

Broward County held its annual DisAbilities Expo on the Nova Southeastern University main campus. In it’s 30th year, the Expo provides opportunities for the community to share information with parents of students with special needs.

As a facilitator for the Florida Inclusion Network (FIN), Barbara Krakower represented FIN, the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS)/Reach Center, and the district’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department. The Expo was a wonderful opportunity for family members to learn about about the resources and services available for their children through the Broward County School District.

Children were truly at the heart of this event, which included fun activities like face painting, music, puppets, story-telling, and singing with sign language. It was a wonderful day in the Broward community!

FIN resources on display

Submitted by: Barbara Krakower, FIN/Broward
Date: February 2010

Inclusion Coaches to Guide High School Teams

In an effort to effect positive outcomes for students with disabilities in Orange County high schools, the district has hired eight new “Inclusion Coaches”. These new positions are funded through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Inclusion Coaches were selected to fulfill their new role based on their experience working with students and general education teachers in inclusive settings as well as their communication and leadership skills. Each Inclusion Coach is assigned to one high school and provides support and guidance to their administrators, faculty, support personnel, and families. The ultimate goal of each coach is to increase the graduation rate and academic performance of students with (and without) disabilities.

Due to the diverse needs of students with disabilities on each high school campus, the roles and responsibilities of the coaches are many and varied. Support and guidance provided by the Inclusion Coaches often includes professional development for and collaborative communication between administrators, faculty, staff, and families in order to establish systemic change for inclusive practices. The Florida Inclusion Network (FIN) provides professional development and technical assistance to the coaches in the areas of co-teaching, support facilitation, and differentiated instruction. FIN also supports the Inclusion Coaches by providing resources for assistive technology and facilitating data collection and analysis for instructional decision-making.

Monthly meetings provide time for the coaches to come together, share best practices, and discuss their data-driven plans for individual school support. The Inclusion Coaches are looking to score BIG this year in Orange County’s high schools!

Top row, left to right: Adrianna Kimbrel (Evans HS); Kay Turley (Timber Creek HS; Laverne Williams (Jones HS); Janie Ramer (Freedom HS), First row, left to right: Lynn Riggle, University H.S., Scha Murrell, Boone H.S.; Cheryl Palmese, Olympia H.S.; June Sellers, Wekiva H.S. not pictured Catherine Ellixson, Dr. Phillips H.S.

Submitted by: Dawn Kirkpatrick, FIN/Orange
Date: December 2009

A Success Story from Lake Worth Community High School!

Elluvia Francisco is a young lady who comes from a very protective family with rich cultural traditions. Elluvia began her 9th grade year at Palm Beach County’s Lake Worth Community High School as a student in the ELL program.

In the 9th grade, Elluvia had a low grade point average and struggled through most of her classes, but she was determined to graduate. She worked hard to overcome a learning disability and, with academic accommodations and supports, became an excellent student. Through the collaborative efforts of the ESE and general education teachers, Elluvia was empowered to achieve her goals!

She was accepted into the medical magnet program in the eleventh grade and found her calling. Indeed, she excelled! Last year she graduated with a standard diploma, earned a GPA of 3.16 and 24 required credits, and passed both the math and reading portions of the FCAT.

Elluvia had many obstacles to overcome while attending high school. She had a three year old son, and although her family helped, Elluvia was the main caregiver. Coming from a strictly Spanish-speaking family, Ellluvia overcame the language barrier by serving as the family’s translator. Even though Elluvia speaks perfect English, learning the language proved challenging when only Spanish was spoken throughout her community–except at school.

Elluvia graduated Lake Worth High School in May of 2009 and still comes back to visit. She is now employed full-time, has been accepted into Palm Beach Community College, and is set to begin her new educational journey in January 2010!

Elluvia Francisco, College Bound!

Submitted by: Marilyn Schiavo, FIN/Palm Beach
Date: October 2009

Excellence at Eccleston Elementary!

Eccleston Elementary is a Title 1 school located in the southwest section of Orlando, Florida. The student population of 486 has the following demographics: 57% Black, 2% White, 34% Hispanic and 7% Multi-racial. There are 38 instructional staff members and 2 administrators.

In the summer of 2008, after carefully analyzing student assessment data and the current program model, there was a need to restructure the ESE program at Eccleston. The current program model consisted of ESE students educated in a self-contained classroom with one teacher and one paraprofessional. This model did not allow the ESE students the right to be taught in the least restrictrive environment (LRE). Therefore, a model of inclusive service delivery was implemented. As with change, there were some bumps and bruises. The teachers were apprehensive in the beginning and the students had difficulty transitioning into the general education classrooms.

With a lot of time and patience, success began to slowly, but surely, evolve. For example, one ESE student went from a Level 1 to a Level 3 on the Spring 2009 FCAT Reading and another ESE student scored a Level 3.0 on the 2009 FCAT Writes. The teachers were becoming more comfortable with sharing their space, as well as teaching strategies, and giving up some control.

Though the school’s inclusive practices were showing signs of success, there were still a few kinks that needed smoothing. Kinks such as time management, more accountability for student outcomes, and increased awareness of inclusive practices by the staff. The Florida Inclusion Network (FIN) was called upon for assistance. A FIN facilitator assisted in completing a thorough examination of Eccleston’s inclusive practices. Several options for improving inclusive practices were identified. The Team Teaching Model was selected as a strategy to increase positive student outcomes. Intensive training of teachers, coaches, and administrators was implemented by the FIN facilitator, including follow-up sessions.

Eccleston’s school grade increased from a “C” to an “A” and the school met AYP for the 2008-2009 school year. They are looking forward to a repeat performance of the 2009-2010 school year!

Collalorative planning is essential for success. Ms. Frances Santiago, ESE teacher and Ms. Erica Tossie, Gen Ed are shown here in their planning session.

Team teaching in the Third grade classroom.

Submitted by: Felicia Goodman, Assistant Principal, Eccleston Elementary &
Lillian Sigler, FIN/Orange County
Date: October 2009

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