This year, the Special Education Department has expanded its investment in inclusion for all students by creating a Tier 3 behavior team. Team members include our BCBA, SPED inclusion specialist, and four behavior technicians. Behavior techs are specialized ESPs who receive intensive training and supervision in behavior analysis. For our students with behavior intervention plans (BIPs) and the most significant behavior concerns, behavior techs work alongside the rest of the team, first to intervene directly with the student and help get the BIP up and running, and then to coach team members in how to implement the plan with fidelity.
Once the school-based team is comfortable running the BIP, and the student has started to show progress, the behavior tech will be faded out to go to another school and support another student with behavior needs.
Needless to say, our behavior techs have a unique role to play across our district in serving all PCSD students with significant behavior concerns. We believe this model has the best chance of both supporting this part of our student population & in building capacity across the district so that schools are increasingly able to include these students in a meaningful and sustainable way.
Park City School District is student-centered with a focus and emphasis on the whole child. Park City’s mission is to have all of our students are be safe, supported, engaged, challenged, and healthy. In an effort to support that district mission, the Special Education Department has adopted a research based social/emotional curriculum to support our students with disabilities who face challenges that are beyond those that a neurotypical peer may face.
TOOLBOX™ is a Kindergarten through 6th-grade program (being used in PreK-8) that supports children in understanding and managing their own emotional, social, and academic success. The foundation of TOOLBOX is 12 human capacities that reside within all of us.
Through its simple and profound metaphor of Tools, TOOLBOX brings forward a set of skills and practices that help students access their own inner resilience at any time, in any context. This year our elementary students will learn how to use their “toolbox” to navigate their social world and manage difficult emotions that they encounter. Ask your student what tools they used today.
The first days of school this year were a bit different for a group of high school students. While most were becoming accustomed to classroom routines, the new Transition Program for Park City High students participated in an app-based scavenger hunt via Park City Transit. As part of the hunt, they had to locate all the community businesses and organizations they will frequent this year in the community-based program.
Thanks to funding approved by Park City School District, special education services are now provided a comprehensive program that assists them in transitioning into the workplace. “The curriculum is focused on job readiness, independent living skills, and functional academic high school classes,” said Kara Brechwald, Special Education specialist. “Students will also create individualized transition portfolios thanks to a career and college readiness grant from the Park City Education Foundation.”
Already, the high school seniors have developed resumes and cover letters and are in the process of applying for employment or internships in their career field of choice. “Our sophomores and juniors are learning about self-determination, including their strengths and interests, to begin the process of outlining their plans for career exploration,” said Brechwald.
“We are so excited to be able to offer extended support for our students who need help making successful transitions,” she said.
Students in Sue Crawford’s Content Link class at Treasure Mountain Junior High starts its daily class routine with a dose of instruction of executive function strategies, or skills for success.
She helps students identify their strengths and challenges in this area and offers tools and strategies in both academic and social, emotional areas. Students learn time-management and self-advocacy skills, as well as dealing with emotions, taking other perspectives, and recognizing impulsivity.
According to Crawford, the cornerstone of this instruction is giving students a voice to communicate effectively with their peers and the adults they interact with daily. She does this through daily mini-lessons and teachable moments. She has also found success using circles where students have a safe and supportive opportunity to help each other problem solve and find solutions to challenges they are personally experiencing in the executive function areas.
Crawford has implemented this instructional practice with her students for several years as a secondary Special Education teacher. She has seen first-hand the increase in confidence and motivation when students are given tools and strategies that they can use to find success.