Sequoia Healthcare District Note
We are pleased to publish this edition of the SCSD Wellness Journal. This issue focuses on the important wellness topics of Inclusivity and Abilities Awareness.
We are excited that San Carlos middle schools have newly partnered with Beyond Differences, an organization dedicated to ending social isolation for middle schoolers. It is well documented the impact that social isolation can have on our children, including poor self-esteem and anxiety. Based on the level of enthusiasm and commitment, I am sure the partnership will blossom.
This past March was the third annual Abilities Awareness Week (AAW). It was impressive to learn about the creative ways that the key message of appreciation of individual learning and ability differences, was delivered. For example, two deaf dancers from the Urban Jazz Dance Company performed for your middle schools demonstrating how deafness does not limit access to dance. A big thank you goes to the sponsor of AAW, your district’s Special Education District Advisory Council (SEDAC.) You can learn more about them later in the newsletter.
Our editor, Stacey Holmes, sat down with your interim Superintendent, Mary Jude Doerpinghaus. She has made many valuable contributions, including building a robust Special Education Services Program, since joining San Carlos ten years ago. Read about their conversation.
We invite you to visit our website at http://www.sequoiahealthcaredistrict.com/hsi to read about our Healthy Schools Initiative work and all the ways we are helping your schools take care of your students.
Wishing you all the best,
Pamela Kurtzman, CEO, Sequoia Healthcare District
Up Close with Interim Superintendent,
Mary Jude Doerpinghaus
I had the pleasure of interviewing our interim Superintendent, Mary Jude Doerpinghaus. It was evident to me by the way she spoke about her work that she has a unique passion for contributing to the lives of our children.
Q: The topics of this newsletter are Inclusivity and Abilities Awareness. What messages do you have for parents on these topics?
A: We are one community that wraps its arms around all children. A culture of having different abilities helps us celebrate each child. I love seeing the shifts in how our children support each other. I see it on the campuses I visit weekly.
Parents can help by having their children play with children of all different abilities and using inclusive language. The little things we do and say make an impact. Children learn very early by watching us. Also, our kids are more accepting of others than we are and in turn we can learn from what they model.
Q: When you first came to this district, in 2008, your role was in Special Education Services. I suspect that many people are unfamiliar with this program. As way of education, please share what you did to create the strong program it is today?
A: First, Special Education Services directly impacts about 10% of the student population which is similar to the national average. The true impact though spans across our whole student population. When I came into the role the program required many changes. We created tiers of support and focused on preventative interventions versus waiting for kids to fail. We strived for tailored services, not cookie cutter services, so each child could get the support they need. We brought services inhouse which helped create a feeling of community. Education for parents was another initiative. In the end, we want everyone to feel they belong and are welcome here.
Q: You mentioned earlier that you visit our schools weekly. What do you get out of those visits?
A: Yes, I visit one or two campuses weekly. My job is to impact kids learning and it is valuable to see that in action. It brings me joy to see kids learning in the classroom. Also, it validates our efforts. Being in classroom keeps me grounded as to why we are here. I am impressed to see how students are rising up and exercising their citizenship.
Q: The Sequoia Healthcare District (SHD) helps support many programs within our district. What would you like to share with our parents about this relationship?
A: I want to parents to know that SHD has been an incredible partner over the years. They provide a significant amount of money allowing us to support the social and emotional well-being of our kids and staff. We don’t take the money for granted. We try to use it in alignment with their goals which in turn helps us meet our goals.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: Inclusion isn’t just for special education kids. It is for everyone, no matter who you are and what abilities you have. The concepts we use to include special needs kids apply to everyone, no matter what makes you unique.
Lastly, I would like to share two of my favorite quotes that inspire me.
If you would like more information about Mary Jude, here is a link to an interview conducted for her role at Interim Superintendent.
Inclusion is Cool: Ending Social Isolation
Beyond Differences, an organization dedicated to ending social isolation in middle schools, recently received a grant to partner with six middle schools in San Mateo County. Our middle schools, Central and TL, are fortunate enough to be part of the initial launch that happened this year. Specifically, students from both Central and TL attended their first Middle School Leadership Retreat.
(Please refer to separate article for more information about the retreat.)
Did you know?
Beyond Differences’ mission is to inspire students, at all middle schools nationwide, to end social isolation and create a culture of belonging for everyone.
The three components of their program are: National Awareness Day events, Student Leadership Training and Original Curriculum for teachers.
There are currently three National Awareness Days:
Over 2,300 middle schools participated this year in BD’s flagship event, No One Eats Alone.
When asked what parents should know/do, Laura answered with this:
Lastly, I asked Laura what they have learned over the last eight years. Here is what she shared:
Ending Social Isolation at Central & TL
Bringing Beyond Differences to our schools
Our district began partnering with Beyond Differences by sending a group of students to their Middle School Leadership Retreat. In March, we sent about 10 students from Central and 1 from TL.
Students learned leadership skills, public speaking skills, event planning, and had the chance to meet other student leaders from across the country! They also learned how to bring Know Your Classmates, No One Eats Alone™, and Call It Out to their school.
At the retreat students came up with a plan for what they wanted to do at their schools.
With the support of the administration, the plan for next year includes creating a student club, hosting the three awareness days (with help from BD), and implementing student-run lessons.
Julie Jobak, Counselor at Central, wanted to share with parents that Beyond Differences aligns with our vision in San Carlos. We are partnering with BD to expand on the good work done already towards kids feeling accepted and included.
Students at Central making BD club posters
The topics covered in this issue can be difficult subjects to talk about with your children. Recently there was a parent education event that focused on how to have “difficult conversations.”
The advice is simple, yet powerful.
The main points that Dr. Magen makes are: Supportive interactions have 3 stages: Setup, Listening, and Speaking
Setup and Listening skills help your partner release emotional charge, while Speaking skills help you deliver advice without antagonizing your partner.
When is it time to speak? Provide your child with a summary of what they said. If they agree, then it is appropriate to move to speaking.
No need to push for the talking. Listening is, by far, the most important thing you can do to help your child.
Acknowledge your ignorance. For example, “I know I don’t know everything about what is going on…”
|Sequoia Healthcare District
San Carlos School District
Tell us what you think!
The Magic Behind AAW: SEDAC
What is SEDAC? The Special Education District Advisory Council is a group of parents of children in special education and administrators representing the schools in the San Carlos School District.
What does SEDAC do? SEDAC members share ideas, opinions, support, and resources related to students in special education amongst parents and provide input to the school district on matters related to educational programs, policies and procedures on behalf of students in special education. SEDAC’s activities include the following:
What is SEDAC’s mission? To provide support to parents of children with different abilities and to create an environment of inclusion and awareness.
To learn more about SEDAC, or if you are a parent of a student who has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), please refer to this handout which provides information regarding the SEDAC and resources. You may also contact your school’s SEDAC representative for more information:
Getting connected to SEDAC: SEDAC maintains an email distribution list to inform parents of events and other useful information. To sign up, please email Trisha Lebus at email@example.com. SEDAC also maintains the “San Carlos Special Education Parents” Facebook page (which is a closed page, parents must be admitted) where parents of special needs kids can post about matters and events. To join, please send a request with the email you use on Facebook to Sylvia Lexington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can parents do?
Click here for the complete list.
Do you know what AAW stands for?
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