Posts Tagged With: Special Needs

Well, the Election is over….

and I lost – but thanks for your support everyone – I shall try again next time. But keep an eye out – I’m not going away…. communication needs to improve and our Special Needs communities need some help, so I will be taking this energy a different direction. We shall see how it¬†plays out!

Oh – and BTW – Positive Connections will remain, and I will continue to post regularly – see you in a day or so! ūüôā
Thanks all!! Have a great day!

Categories: School Board | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well – it’s almost here..

The election is Tuesday, and I’m ready to see if I win or lose. Either way, Positive Connections is staying, even though the outcome may affect the direction it takes.¬† I have visited with teachers, general voters, and Seniors. I have shared my views through FaceBook and through this wonderful venue. I hope that I have explained myself well, and that the voters will understand what I am after, and will support me in my quest. I really do believe that communication and cooperation between parents, teachers, administrators, and the board will lead to positive connections, and that will lead an already good district to be that much better. I have learned of many problems that need addressing, and many strengths that need nurturing. I know a board member is only one of 7, but that one can offer support to many and encouragement to others, and I want to be that one.

I hope to see you Tuesday – but however and wherever you do it, don’t forget to VOTE!!

Categories: School Board | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home – Prayer Will Support PWS Organization

Home – Prayer Will Support PWS Organization.

Raising money for Prader-Willi Research – this is a walk-a-thon in Higginsville, MO if anyone following this is local. ūüôā ¬†This is the condition my son has, and the money goes to his geneticist – who is recognized as the leading researcher in PWS.

If you can, come walk; if you can’t – donate a little. ¬†And if you can’t do that – send your good thoughts and prayers. ¬†Thank you for whatever you can do!

Categories: Personal, Prader-Willi Syndrome | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Four in one……

WOW – I just realized how far behind I have gotten! I actually have FOUR schools that I have visited in the past week that I haven’t told you about. In the interest of time (it’s midnight again, and only 15 days until the election), I’m going to try and tell you about all of them without writing a book. Can she do it? as my daughters cartoon friend would say…. Yes, She Can! I would answer with confidence….So here we go…..

First, on the afternoon of the 11th, I visited with Ms. Ginger Cochran of Ridge View. This was especially nice, since I not only saw the school, I saw so many of my son’s ex-teachers and paras! My middle child, Connor, started out in the Early Childhood program at Ridge View about 8 years ago, and my husband and I swear that it is one of the biggest parts of his progress even today. ¬†I saw his old room, and many of the people who worked there, and who remembered me! ¬†His actual teacher is now at Maple Grove, doing great things there, I have heard, even though I missed seeing her during that visit. (I did just happened to her in Wal-Mart a couple days ago, and we had a wonderful, albeit short, visit in the produce aisle.) The thing I noticed most about Ridge View was the changes in security. Ms. Cochran was very security minded, and even asked if I knew anything about a way to impress upon the parents of such young children the need for internet awareness. I promised her I would look into that, and I will – I love that she is so concerned about such an important topic. Most people don’t think children that young need to worry – but ohhhhh – they definitely do!!

Next I visited the Middle School – my oldest son’s current stomping grounds. I didn’t get to see him, much to his¬†relief, I’m sure, but I did see a lot of the school and had a really good visit with Mr. Elliott. WMS is broken into a block schedule, which I have to admit I haven’t really liked. ¬†Mr. Elliott’s explanation did make sense – because of this scheduling they have smaller class sizes and can offer more classes. This is important. Mr. Elliott is very aware of the¬†possibilities¬†that the future brings, encouraging flipped classrooms, hoping to try BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and waiting for improved WiFi. ¬†Like many of these facilities, WMS needs space – space for Art, and space for Tech. They have social workers, process coordinator, and instructional and literacy coaches. Their SpEd prgram has 11 paras, and although most kids don’t need the one-on-para, if they do, it is available. ¬†They have a Solutions room and a safe room (for rare occasions), and a certified teacher in the focus room! ¬†This school seems very focused on progress – progress in security, performance, and in the personal development of their students. I have to say I’m glad my son is in this school; it may not be perfect, but it’s much much better than many many others I have heard tell of!

On to the Career Center – a place for both High School and adult learners. Mr. Rusty Sproats, Director of WACC told me about the programs they offer – Health Sciences (PN and CNA), Cosmetology, Auto Technology, Construction Technology, Auto Collision, and Computer Repair and Networking. Some of these programs even offer services to the public –¬†cosmetology¬†(I’ll be heading there for a facial after the election) and the Auto shops specifically (and I’m sure I have work that needs to be done on my car!). This not counting the programs that are handled off site at the High School (Agriculture, Business, etc.). The programs in these buildings are exceptional – in fact, there was a little justified bragging at one point – Their brand new, first year, Nursing instructor had 100% of her class pass the CNA exam – that is IMPRESSIVE!!!! and definitely deserves our congratulations!

Before I move on to Martin Warren, I have to add couple other plugs Рthe Auto Tech program has some really wonderful equipment Рcomputers and a top of the line alignment machine. These are obtained through grants Рno easy feat, and demonstrative of the care they take. And last Рnext year they will be hiring a Math/Com Arts teacher (very interesting combination, says the English teacher in me). They will be working on the Common Core just like everyone else, strengthening that sense of cohesiveness that I have seen through out our district so far.

And last but definitely not least (to use a cliche), Ms. Lorna Cassell took me through another of the boys’ old schools – Martin Warren. This was the one I was probably most familiar with next to Sterling, but I couldn’t get over how much brighter it looked. Ms. Cassell has placed student art work in very¬†conspicuous¬†parts of¬†the¬†school – and it looks amazing. Not just professional, but lived in – like the kids really do love their school. She told ¬†me of some of her other plans for adding even more¬†personality,¬†and I am anxious to see it myself! Ms. Cassell seems to really be about affirmation and support. These kids, and her staff, are family. She has morning assemblies every morning, with happy birthdays and shout outs, and she is excited about the upcoming concert that will be held in her auditorium with its new bleachers and sound system. I have to say, this was my last tour, but it was a good one. I’m glad I finished here – her enthusiasm was contagious, and while I was still finding it interesting, her enthusiasm made it fun as well.

So, ladies and gentlemen, readers and voters, and Warrensburg parents, that completes our tours of the Schools of Warrensburg. I have learned so much about our district in these past couple weeks, and I have really just reaffirmed why I want to be a part of it. I will be back, hopefully tomorrow night, to post some more serious content. I am also hoping to get another project started soon, specifically for our Special Needs community – but rest assured – I know ALL our families need support, not just those with unique challenges, and I look forward to being there for them.

So – upcoming events you might be interested in – on March 27, there will be a Teacher’s Forum in the afternoon and a Meet the Candidate in the evening. If you are a teacher, come hear us speak at your forum at 4:00 at the High School. If you’re not (or even if you are) ¬†– come say hi at 5:30 in¬†the¬†American Legion Hall. I look forward to meeting you!

Until then – have a great week!

Categories: School Board | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank you to Ms. Grelle…..

I just learned the name of the woman responsible for Maple Grove’s “Autism spectrum classroom” – Ms.¬†Sheree Grelle.

(To be honest,  Mr. Finnane did tell me her name, but in my hurry to take notes, I did not get it written down, and I owe her an apology for that. I guess I would never make it as a reporter! )

So, to rectify my oversight, I have to say I wish I could take ¬†all the parents (not just those with Special Needs kiddos) ¬†into this room and show them the wonderful work she has done. I only got to see it very briefly, but I hope that my other projects (an online information “hub” for Special Needs families) will allow me to see more of this, and maybe even visit with her a bit in the future. In¬†Mr. Finnane’s words, ” She has so much knowledge and passion[; she] ¬†is really the individual responsible for this great initiative.”

And a great initiative it is – Thank you, Ms. Grelle, our kids really need your insight.

Now how do we clone you for our other schools…. ūüėČ

Categories: Special Needs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A familiar place…..

The front entrance of Sterling Elementary

Sterling Elementary

Today I visited my younger son’s school, Sterling Elementary, and had a very enjoyable visit with their principle, Ms. Monda Reynolds. She showed me all over the building, and I was able to see a number of areas that I had not been in before. I do have two children in the school system, and they have both attended Sterling; therefore, I am somewhat familiar with it, but Ms. Reynolds was kind enough to show it to me anyway. One of the things that has always struck me about Ms. Reynolds is her relationship with the kids of Sterling – I know my son loves her, but it is always nice to see the interaction that she has with them. Today I had an even better glimpse into what she means to “her kids” when we went into a computer lab (that I had not seen before, btw), and no less than 4 Middle Schoolers jumped up and gave her a hug, and the rest of the visiting class waved and called to her. As I said above, it was really wonderful to see.

Of course, as any administrator would, Ms. Reynolds had her “wish list,” but hers was especially short. I’m sure she has many other things that she would like, but her real wish appears to be for an awning for the front entrance. She is concerned about our children being out in the weather – sun in summer, and rain and snow in fall and winter. She knows it’s in the works, but her hope is that it will happen soon. This is a good cause, I think. It’s not extravagant, but it would improve the appearance of the school as well as the comfort of our children.

I have to admit, I was a little surprised that this awning was really her biggest request. I had imagined her asking for support for more technology, or more assistance with Special Needs, but they actually are set up pretty well in these areas. I know from experience that the Special Needs program is good, although I did not realize how many kiddos there were in it – 50 in the SpEd rooms (not counting the Language/Speech rooms), and 20 in the Gifted program. I have had plenty of experience with this program with my own son, and while I can not say it’s always been smooth sailing, I can honestly say that they are always trying to to do what they believe is best for the kids. Any rough patches we have experienced seem to have developed from differing opinions of what “the best” is, or from a lack of communication and understanding between the vested parties. This is something I really hope to help bolster from within the School Board.

The technology in Sterling is very impressive. They have 1 portable laptop cart, 2 classrooms with Netbooks, 3 eMints classrooms, and 1 iPad room. Next year will hopefully bring another iPad cart so those can be more mobile within the school building, and at least one classroom that will have an iPad for every child. This is a school where the children are learning on line – they are getting invaluable experience that they will take with them into Middle and High School, and I would love to be able to support efforts to technologize every classroom in the building (if not in the district!).

In closing my account of this very enjoyable visit, I would like to note that Ms. Reynolds mentioned the communication that she has seen between the schools in glowing terms – from Sterling to the Middle School, especially. It certainly sounds like our experience with this transition should move very smoothly, with lots of planned meetings and discussions, and I am truly looking forward to that. Some of our experiences have not been quite so smooth in past years, and much of that is from ignorance on our part, as well as assumptions made on the part of the schools. I hope as part of the School Board I will be able to help with the communication and support that ALL parents and staff need – not just those with special needs.

Categories: School Board | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gifted have Special Needs too!!

Someone recently asked me a great question about the Gifted Programs in our schools. To quote: this person is “concerned about continued support and funding for the gifted program, which [she sees] as Special Needs, because so many of these students need a particular type of learning environment in order to be engaged with their studies and to thrive socially and academically.¬†¬†Your thoughts?”

Interestingly enough, I was just at a School Board meeting on the 19th that had the “Gifted Program Evaluation” on the agenda. I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to see how successful the program was, and that’s not really what it was. Instead, it was a very nice video presentation that showed a number of students who clearly enjoyed and benefited from the program. It was wonderful, just not exactly what I had hoped to see. ūüôā

That being said, I don’t think I could agree with this person any more about the Special Needs of gifted students – they are just different needs. And another serious part of this issue is that these gifted students can find themselves on the other side of the Special Needs continuum if those needs are not addressed. The challenges and frustrations of dealing with non-challenging work can lead to all kinds of behavioral and emotional issues that eventually have to be addressed. Regardless of the need, the end goal is the same: we are all striving for our students’ success (to borrow a phrase).¬†

So – to try to answer the question more specifically – I absolutely believe that Gifted programs need continued support and funding, and in this current economic situation, this may not be an easy thing to maintain. I do, however, think it may be a bit easier to handle the difference than some of the programs for the “challenged” kids (for lack of a better term). Whereas students like my son need personalized, all day, all week paras and SpEd teachers, the Gifted students may be able to expand beyond the brick walls of their own schools – and they may be able to do it at much less cost with much greater rewards! I would be very interested in doing some research into some of the advanced collaborative programs I have seen using local businesses, universities, (other than dual credit for HS), and even the internet. I think there is some great potential there, not just in collaborating with relatively local schools, but on both a national and international scope.

I have to say, I was very surprised to learn that the High School does not have any kind of gifted program, relying on dual-credit and similar programs to fill that need. I got the impression that this might have been a financial decision, but I am curious if this is something that could be expanded. I haven’t had the chance to talk to anyone yet, but I am interested in learning more. I did learn that there are a total of 94 elementary and middle school students in the Gifted programs, but I am concerned about what is happening to them when they leave the middle school – I will have to do a little more research into it, but it has given me some food for thought. ¬†What I can say absolutely is that the special needs of all the students in Warrensburg need to be addressed.

On of my personal goals is to make my actions count for those kids. As I have said before, we need to move forward, no matter how good things are now. So whether I’m on the School Board or not, I want to help make good things come for all our kids, challenged, gifted, or mainstream.¬†

Categories: School Board | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Allow me to introduce myself….

Connor, Logan, Mary Collynn and Mom making cookies in the kitchen

The family making cookies…

I am a wife, and I am a mother. I have a 13 year old in Warrensburg Middle School, an 11 year old in Sterling Elementary, and a 2 1/2 year old at home. I am extremely active in my faith, especially with the college students who frequent the Newman Center where my husband is Director. I am the Newman Mom – feeding them on the weekend and chasing them out when they should be studying.

I am a¬†mom of a child with special needs. My younger son has Prader-Willi Syndrome, so I am very active in his daily life at school. I am invested in the quality of our Special Needs programs, so that is of course near to my heart. I also know ALL our kids have some special need – my teenager and 2 year old are proof of that. The needs are different, but they are just as important. My whole professional life (and much of my private life) is spent trying to make students’ and teachers’ jobs easier- as an English and Instructional Technology Instructor I try to teach college students, as an Instructional Designer and Education Technologist I try to help teachers teach, and as a private citizen, I am developing a new “informational hub” for special needs parents and professionals. I think communication and clarity of needs and expectations are two of the most important elements of any relationship, and education is no exception. It is my goal as a professional and as a parent to help improve that communication in any way I can!

Categories: Personal, School Board | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at

Talk Tech With Me

A collection of ideas and thoughts on technology in education.

Taking The Diss Out Of Disabled

Promoting Acceptance And Tolerance For Special Needs Individuals One Article At A Time


Stationery and More

Confetti & Confessions

Truth-telling in Motherhood

iepsurvival for parents and teachers who work with special education students

IEP: Individual Education Program for special education students. Tips for navigating and negotiating IEP meetings, and paperwork. Being heard and participating is key to being a member of the team.