Capitalizing on the COVID-19 Crisis: All PCSD paraprofessionals are now highly trained in behavior

Jaimee Kidder
Dr. Jaimee Kidder

Dr. Jaimee Kidder saw an opportunity in the COVID-19 crisis. Dr. Kidder put together a plan to capitalize on a crisis by putting together an intensive behavior training course that was run live during the school dismissal. Park City School District staff, including all special education paraprofessionals, and all after-school personnel participated in a comprehensive, 40-hour formal course covering all of the material to certify Registered Behavior Technicians.

During the six weeks of class, over 120 participants learned a wide variety of skills and concepts, such as how to provide effective reinforcement, how to select and teach replacement behaviors, and how to collect data to monitor progress and make better decisions.  Participants expressed that the class was enjoyable and highly relevant to their needs, and that they were thankful to have the opportunity for extensive training and practice in behavioral strategies.  Once school resumes, additional coaching and mentoring will be provided to Park City School District participants who support students with challenging behavior to help them apply what they’ve learned in a hands-on context.

Critical components included the principles, interventions, and problem-solving strategies to address the needs of students with challenging behaviors. Dr. Kidder generously opened up the course to Tooele, Salt Lake, Canyons, and Provo school districts’ special education departments and another 30 participants were able to join at no cost.

Transition Program ‘paying off’ for one student

IMG_3248Lexy Levy, a junior at Park City High who is active in our Transition Program, has landed her first job at the Park City School District Child Care Center.

The Transition Program, under the leadership of instructor Holly Huggins, provides a comprehensive program that assists students with special needs to transition into the workplace. The Transition curriculum is focused on job readiness, independent living skills, and functional academic high school classes.

The program is possible in part through a career and college readiness grant from the Park City Education Foundation.​

Meet Our New Behavior Team

Behavior TeamThis 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.

New Curriculum to Support Social Skills and Emotion Regulation

Toolbox toolsPark 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.

New Transition Program Introduced for Park City High Students

Screen Shot 2019-09-05 at 12.37.58 PMThe 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.