Spring / Summer 2009

Old King Elementary Rocks the Inclusion World!

The Florida Inclusion Network (FIN), located at the University of North Florida, has been working with Old Kings Elementary School (OKES) in Flagler County for many years, but this year was an especially important and exiting time! Several teams from the school attended Collaborative Planning and Teaching professional development opportunities and created a plan to enhance their inclusive schooling practices.

Under the leadership of Principal Denise Haymes, education teams at Old Kings Elementary have continued to implement innovative practices in the area of inclusive education and have been rewarded with positive data that prove their efforts are working! Jean Stahl, Assistant Principal, has also supported the OKES teams in their ongoing implementation of inclusive practices. These school leaders are proud of what their teams have accomplished and welcome inquiries from others who want to learn more about building an inclusive school.

Janet Valentine, Assistant Superintendent of Flagler County Schools, had this to say about OKES: “After implementing inclusive practices for students with disabilities during the 2008-2009 school year, the FCAT scores at Old Kings Elementary School show promise! Not only did the school make a grade of A, but the percent of students meeting high standards in reading increased by three percentage points. Writing scores showed an increase of five percentage points and science an increase of 14 percentage points! Thanks to the Florida Inclusion Network for providing training and ongoing support to Old Kings Elementary School. Although the school did not make AYP, they met 97 percent of the criteria while testing 100 percent of their eligible students. Not only did we observe success among students with disabilities, but many students without disabilities benefited from the supports provided in inclusive classrooms. We fully anticipate a huge jump in student achievement this year with the help of our FIN partners!”

Your school can also become part of the FIN team! Just contact your local FIN facilitator to see what we have to offer!

Denise Haymes, OKES Principal

Jean Stahl, OKES Assistant Principal


Submitted by: Libby K. Willis and Kimberlee M. Oakes,

July 2009

Building AYP at Boca Ciega High School

Caution: Collaborative team at work!

The sound of saws and hammers fills the air at Boca Ciega High in Gulfport, Florida as the school’s renovation has begun. But the ground-breaking construction of collaborative teaching began over two years ago as the administrative team and the ESE Department revamped the models of service delivery for students with disabilities (SWD).

The blueprint for change included a schedule that significantly decreased the number of different content-area teachers each ESE teacher was paired with and allowed additional inclusive opportunities for students requiring full-time behavioral support. Professional development and on-site coaching for teams in collaborative teaching techniques, classroom management, and Content Enhancement Routines provided a scaffold of support for teachers. Additionally, a strong commitment by the principal, Paula Nelson, and her administrative team bolstered the development of the collaborative teaching teams and provided the necessary foundation.

Are the students with disabilities at Boca Ciega High benefitting from this overhaul? Initial reports from the building inspector are increasingly optimistic. Students with disabilities are spending more time with their peers without IEPs. In 2006, 43 percent of the SWD at BCHS spent 80 percent or more of their time in general education classes. That number has dramatically increased to 81 percent of SWD spending 80 percent or more of their time in general education classes with in-class supports during the 2008-09 school year. The percentage of SWD meeting proficiency has also increased by ten percent in reading and five percent in math over those same years.

The inclusive practices at Boca Ciega High are still under construction, but the architects’ vision is obvious in the progress to date. Together the innovative crew maintains a constant focus on the changing needs of their students and builds the supports necessary for each student’s success.

Design Team, Contractors, and Construction Crew
Paula Nelson, Principal
Charles Drake, Assistant Principal for Curriculum
Andrea Fonti, ESE Department Chair and Varying Exceptionalities Specialist
Heather Holloway, Behavior Specialist
BCHS Collaborative Teaching Teams and ESE Associates
Cindy Medici, FIN/Pinellas

BCHS Pirates get a facelift

BCHS under construction

Submitted by: Cindy Medici,

July 2009

Taking a PATH in the Right Direction

For a middle school student named Stewart and his education team, Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (P.A.T.H.) was a truly positive experience. FIN/University of West Florida and FIN/Escambia County partnered to assist this family and their supportive friends on a journey of positive and possible hope for the future.

We believe the following email message from Stewart’s mother says it all:

“Where do I begin? Last Friday was a wonderful, moving, and incredible team meeting. It created and cemented a shared vision of him and for him, simply by painting a picture of Stewart’s future for all of us to see, to own, to aim for, and think about. That simple step (which we know was not really a simple step – it took much preparation and skill and will take much follow-up) changed the direction of many on his team, and I think will be a turning point in his life and happiness, and that of his family.

Thank you for your preparation, your committment, your gracious manner in leading us through the process, and of helping us all understand how important it was to dream without limits in order to create a wonderful future for Stewart. And, most of all – thank you for taking those huge, future ideas and working with us to break them down into small manageable steps – that is such a critical step in taking ideas to action.”

This is one area of support that the Florida Inclusion Network offers to families. For more information about the P.A.T.H. futures planning process and how your FIN Facilitator can assist you, please contact your local FIN office. For contact information, just click on the “Meet the FINs” button above and select your county.

The future is in sight.

Family and friends begin the planning process.

M. J. Ziemba charts the group’s vision.

Submitted by: Karen D’Avignon,
FIN/UWF & MJ Ziemba, FIN/Escambia

April 2009

Technical Assistance—A Hands-On Approach to Inclusive Practices

In a 1984 movie entitled “Ghostbusters” the catchphrase “Who ya gonna call?” was frequently repeated. In Escambia County, schools call the Florida Inclusion Network (FIN)– not to catch ghosts, but to round up and eliminate old thinking that can stand in the way of inclusive practices and collaborative teaching opportunities!

During the winter months, M.J. Ziemba, District Coordinator for FIN, provided technical assistance to several schools on a variety of topics. One elementary school struggled with including a very unique first grader. His veteran teacher was doing a remarkable job, but needed M.J.’s support and feedback to realize she was on the right track.

One middle school enlisted M.J’.s assistance with enhancing the effectiveness of a specific model of in-class support, organizing a study group about Differentiated Instruction, and improving communications among collaborative teaching partners. FIN also supported the initiation of a peer support project on the campus.

Over the course of the school year, several elementary schools discovered that their carefully designed schedules were not meeting the needs of struggling students with disabilities. M.J. arrived with chart paper, markers and sticky notes in hand—ready to work with the teams on re-designing their schedules!

At O.J. Semmes Elementary School in Pensacola, M.J. worked side-by side with teachers serving barbeque to families on “Celebrating Dads in Schools Night!” She has also conducted classroom walk-throughs to see, firsthand, the student engagement strategies that collaborative teachers employ to support struggling learners. Additionally, FIN provided materials to increase reading and small group active learning.

Pine Forest High School enlisted FIN support for a reading teacher as she developed ways to engage students with disabilities to participate more effectively in learning activities.

Parents also met with M.J. to discuss plans for including their children in ways that meet their individual academic and social needs. Her biggest contribution to families is often just listening!

Just as FIN works closely with many different schools, groups, and families in Escambia County, you can find technical assistance offered in every Florida district by an experienced FIN facilitator. Call your local Florida Inclusion Network office or visit our web site’s “Meet the FINs” section today for more information!

M.J. meets with Susan Byram to plan teen peer volunteer training for the Autism Society’s Summer Camp for Kids.

Kelly Aeppli-Campbell (right) and M.J. Ziemba discuss Escambia’s reading initiatives and students with disabilities.

Classroom teacher, Latonya Baldwin, from O.J. Semmes Elementary, explains classroom procedures to M.J. Ziemba.

Submitted by: M.J. Ziemba

April 2009

A True Collaborative Effort: Multi-District, Multi-School & Multi-FIN Flexible Scheduling Session!!

A true collaborative effort took place on April 20, 2009! Teams from multiple schools, from two districts worked with FIN facilitators to create and fine tune a process to plan and develop successful inclusive practices for their schools. Schools from St. Lucie County included St. Lucie Elementary, Weatherbee Elementary, and St. Lucie West Centennial High, and one school from Okeechobee County, Everglades Elementary, participated in the FIN-sponsored workshop called “Flexible Scheduling.”

A fundamental key to successful inclusion is the careful development of student schedules, the determination of appropriate service delivery models needed, and the creation of a master schedule that is reflective of individual student needs. During this collaborative session, teams conducted an in-depth analysis of each individual student’s needs to determine (a) the intensity of services required, (b) models of support to be provided (for example: co-teaching, support facilitation, peer support, consultation, etc), and (c) how to best utilize existing personnel to support those students in inclusive settings.

Schools worked independently on their own plans and schedules, however, they were also able to share information, feedback, guidance, and input with other schools, making this session a true collaborative effort.

Thank you St. Lucie and Okeechobee districts for helping the Florida Inclusion Network plan and provide inclusive support to your

St. Lucie Elementary Team (St. Lucie, FL)

Weatherbee Elementary Team (St. Lucie, FL)

Everglades Elementary Team (Okeechobee, FL)

St. Lucie West Centennial High Team (St. Lucie, FL)

Submitted by: Dr. Laura Verry-Sidoran
Florida Inclusion Network/UCF-Brevard, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee, & Martin

April 2009

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