• Check These Out!

    Posted by Misty Crouch on 4/19/2019 7:00:00 AM

    March and April are often the months when information is beginning to be shared for the upcoming school year.  At times, it’s difficult to sort through all of the information bombarding you from the word of mouth of your colleagues, professional development suggestions from your supervisors, or emails with ‘save the date” information for next year.  In my role as transition coordinator at Earlywood, I support a variety of individuals. Some of these include: families who are transitioning their children from First Steps early intervention services to preschool special education services, preschool teachers through our Preschool Professional Learning Community (PLC), the teacher and staff of the INSPIRE program at Franklin College, and our local non-public special education teachers.  This month, I thought it would be appropriate to share some new information which arrived at my inbox recently that could benefit those individuals or others in our member districts that are in similar roles. As you begin to prepare for next year, check out some of these resources and trainings!

    Transition:

    The IDOE recently released information related to Transition Portfolio Guidance for 2019-2020

    and a regional training schedule information for late July/early August.  

    Preschool:

    The IDOE recently shared new information from Early Learning related to Indiana’s Early Learning Foundations.  The new guidance resources, Approaches to Play and Learning Guidance and Social Emotional Guidance, are intended to be a resource for educators to support and enhance children’s learning and development while using the Foundations, Indiana’s Early Learning Development Framework.

    General:

    Google for Education Teacher Center provides online, self-guided training modules for a variety of topics and apps.  Google also offers two educator certifications, Educator Level I and Educator Level 2, so that you can show mastery at the level that is right for you.


    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: mcrouch@earlywood.org

    Misty

    ~Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator

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  • Community Conversations Focused on “Employment First”

    Posted by Misty Crouch on 4/5/2019 7:00:00 AM

    On February 28th, I attended the Employment First Town Hall meeting at the Easterseals Crossroads in Indianapolis.  The purpose of the meeting was to allow individuals with disabilities, their families, and community members to discuss and share ideas on how Indiana can increase employment and change systems so individuals with disabilities find and keep community jobs.  The need for these discussions was spurred by the legislation that passed in May 2017. On May 10, 2017, Governor Eric J. Holcomb signed “Employment First” legislation, joining 34 other states to promote employment as the first goal for people with disabilities.

    Town hall discussions, are being held around the state to get additional feedback on current barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities in Indiana. The meetings are funded by the Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities and in partnership with Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and Indiana Association of People Supporting Employment First (INAPSE).

    Future town hall meetings are going to be held on the following dates:

    March 20

    Terre Haute

    April 10

    Bloomington

    April 24

    Evansville

    April 24

    Muncie


    Agenda items to discuss include the following topics:

    1

    Finding and supporting businesses to employ people with disabilities

    2

    Promoting effective school-to-careers transition

    3

    Aligning state policies and funding to promote employment

    4

    Developing quality employment services and supports

    5

    Creating high expectations and economic self-sufficiency

    If these are topics about which you are passionate, consider attending the event to have your voice heard and your ideas shared.  There is also an invitation for individuals to join the coalition to promote Employment First and develop potential solutions to the statewide and regional employment barriers throughout Indiana. The information from all of the meetings will be collected, disseminated, and shared with officials in our state government. 

    Here are some additional resources that were shared at the event:

    Indiana Division of Disability & Rehabilitative Services, Feb 2019 Newsletter

    Self Advocates of Indiana, https://www.saind.org/


    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: mcrouch@earlywood.org

    Misty

    ~Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator

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  • Planning for Your Students' Vision of a "Good" Life

    Posted by Misty Crouch on 2/8/2019 7:00:00 AM

    When completing transition assessments with your students, reviewing the number of resources available and trying to plan how you can pull it all together can be an overwhelming task.  At the most recent Johnson County Transition Council meeting, we had a guest from The Arc of Indiana, Karly Sciortino-Poulter. She discussed transition resources available from Missouri called Charting the LifeCourse.

    Charting the LifeCourse™ and LifeCourseTools.com are projects of the University of Missouri–Kansas City Institute for Human Development, Missouri’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Services (UCEDD).

    The framework and curriculum comprising the focus of the LifeCourse materials were created BY FAMILIES to help individuals and families of all abilities, means, and all ages to develop a vision for a good life, and identify how to find or develop supports and discover what it takes to live the lives they want to live.”

    Reviewing the materials and resources available through this project can be a daunting task.  Various members of our transition council had explored different parts of the website individually.  We shared with Karly how the ones who had previously reviewed it liked the materials, but had gotten overwhelmed with the website and the different links to resources to download.  Karly led us through some of the materials and provided us with hard copies of the transition section, called Charting the LifeCourse: Focus on Transition. This is available at the following link from LifeCourse Resources drop down menu, Learning Materials.  In this section, there are separate downloads available for the different life stages, for example: Early Childhood, School Age, Transition, Adulthood, and Aging.

    To navigate to another section of the website containing materials that are beneficial for someone just starting to explore the materials, follow the LifeCourse drop down menu again, but select the link for LifeCourse Tools.  On this page there is a LifeCourse Toolkit Menu that can be downloaded that explains the purpose of the toolkit and lists each tool with it’s purpose.

    All of the resources available through this framework and curriculum could be used to supplement transition materials that you are already utilizing for your students and their transition needs.  Check them out for yourself and let me know what you think!

    If you have any questions about the transition that I might be able to assist you with, don’t hesitate to contact me!

    Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator
    mcrouch@earlywood.org
    Office: 317-738-7210

    Misty

    ~Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator

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  • Quick Guide: Earlywood’s INSPIRE Program @ Franklin College Campus

    Posted by Misty Crouch on 1/11/2019 7:00:00 AM

    You might ask yourself, “What is INSPIRE?” or you have heard of the program, but want to learn more about the application and student interview process.  In our partnership with Franklin College, students accepted into the INSPIRE (Individual Needs in Special Places to Increase Relevant Work Experiences) Program utilize the college campus to experience a 1-2 year college campus-based and/or community-based activities facilitated by Earlywood Educational Services staff.  In this program, students with disabilities between the ages of 18-22 also work toward a Certificate of Completion from one of Earlywood’s participating school districts and prepare for gainful employment and/or transition to another type of transition initiative to help them achieve their post-secondary goals.  

    Students have the opportunity to audit Franklin College courses, with course selection dependent upon the semester and course availability.   Some favorite audited courses include: Exercise Science, Physical Education, Art, Photography, and hands-on science courses. Students also participate in campus-based social activities with their college-age peers and program interns.  These include leisure activities at the student center, playing basketball, or grabbing a snack or drink at the on-campus coffee shop.

    For additional information regarding the program, check out INSPIRE’s program details on Earlywood’s website.   Application information can be found HERE.  This year’s application deadline is quickly approaching.  Application deadline is February 1, 2019!

    If you’re interested in checking out our social media posts concerning the program, check out Earlywood’s Facebook page (Earlywood Educational Services) or our Twitter feed @EarlywoodES. You can also find local news stories covering the program.  Last May, WTIU published a feature story (Franklin College Program Helps Students with Special Needs Gain Life Skills, Education) and aired two part series on the program last May (links to videos here: INSPIRE Part 1, INSPIRE Part 2).

    If you need more information about the how the INSPIRE program could meet the needs of your student, would like an informal tour before our application deadline, or have questions regarding the application and/or application/interview process, please contact one of the following staff members:

    Lisa Whitlow-Hill, INSPIRE Program Teacher lwhitlow-hill@earlywood.org

    Alisha Webb, INSPIRE Job Coach awebb@earlywood.org

    Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator mcrouch@earlywood.org

    We are looking forward to reviewing the applications for next school year and meeting the students and families who are interested in our program!

    Misty

    ~Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator

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  • Building Relationships and Making Connections in the Community

    Posted by Misty Crouch on 11/16/2018 7:00:00 AM

    When researching some topics related to community-based instruction and how it is related to transition services and activities, I found a manual authored by Angela Novak Amado, Ph.D. of the University of Minnesota titled Friends: Connecting People WIth Disabilities and Community Members.  The focus of the manual is to increase the community membership and belonging of individuals with disabilities.  In addition to activities that look at how to increase community membership and relationships for the students or individuals with disabilities, the author suggests ten reasons for supporting relationships with community members:

    1. Relationships are important to all of us
    2. People with disabilities themselves express that relationships are important
    3. People with disabilities really do have very few friends
    4. Health and well-being
    5. Adjust the balance between personal and functional relationships
    6. More power and control
    7. Reduce emotional stress
    8. Reduce staff burnout
    9. When relationships are supported, people change
    10. Provide community members the opportunity to be contributed to

    Some of these reasons could be introduced as talking points for programs who wish to introduce more community membership activities in either their community-based instruction or their classroom-based activities. Take a little time to explore the manual including some strategies, activities, and examples the authors have outlined to support relationships with community members.  

    Some other articles/studies of interest include:

    Amado, A.N., Wesely, E., Stancliffe, R.S., & O’Donnell, K. (2015). Promoting relationships with community members: What are the best strategies? Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Research and Training Center on Community Living.

    Amado, A.N., Boice, C.H., & DeGrande, M. (2012). Community Members’ Perspectives on Inclusion: Membership of Persons with Developmental Disabilities in Community Organizations. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Research and Training Center on Community Living.

    Don’t hesitate to email me at mcrouch@earlywood.org  if you would like any additional resources!   

    Misty

    ~Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator

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  • Student Involvement: Attending vs Participating

    Posted by Misty Crouch on 10/4/2018 7:00:00 AM

    Recently, I attended a conference for an 8th grade student.  My purpose at the meeting was completely unrelated to the student’s involvement in the meeting.  However, during the course of the meeting it was refreshing to see the level of involvement this student had in his annual case conference, especially when it involved discussing his strengths and weaknesses with other participants.  At the end of the conference, the teacher felt compelled to apologize for the length of the meeting. I reassured her that what was discussed by the student definitely added to the quality of the meeting and required no apology.

    Just like many teachers with transition age students, this teacher had how to “plan” for a meeting in which the student was invited, and where the student was asked to share his perspective on different aspects of his IEP.   The teacher, naturally, had some worries. What if the student doesn’t want to share? What if the meeting runs long? What if the student gets off topic? How do we cover all of the information that needs to be covered?

    Student involvement in IEP meetings is considered an evidence-based practice for students with disabilities and a research-based practice for students with both learning and intellectual disabilities by the National Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT).  Within the practice description for Using the Self Directed IEP to Teach Student Involvement in the IEP Meeting, NTACT provides educators with the 11 steps necessary to teach students how to lead through their own meetings following a model-lead-test format.

    Some might ask about the necessity of teaching students to lead their IEP meetings before they are transition age.  I found a great article that discusses the necessity of inviting students INTO the IEP process not just TO the IEP meeting when they are close to or at transition age (around 14 years old.)  In an article entitled Why Is This Cake On Fire?, the authors provide an analogy comparing a lack of invitation to the student to planning an IEP meeting to a lack of invitation to the student to planning their own birthday party.  The authors suggest that “by the time that students become teenagers, they may have decided that IEP meetings are not important at all since no one as invited them or included them in the planning phase (Van Dycke, Martin, & Lovett, 2006, p.43).”

    An issue also found in this article is the difference between just attending versus participating.  What are your students doing at their meetings? Are they just attending or are they participating? If I go back to the example that I provided at the beginning, this student was not just attending.  He actively participated in conversations in his meeting. He took ownership of areas of his learning that were discussed and engaged in conversations about them. Encouraging students to participate earlier in these conversations and teaching them about their IEPs at younger ages could help alleviate some of the “what if” questions that might come up when planning these meetings.

    Check out the article and the Self Directed IEP lesson package provided by NTACT.  Don’t hesitate to email me at mcrouch@earlywood.org  if you would like any additional resources!  

    Misty

    ~Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator

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  • Upcoming Transition Fairs

    Posted by Misty Crouch on 9/6/2018 7:00:00 AM

    Lisa Whitlow-Hill’s transition article from last September discussed transition fairs and the importance of the information provided at these events for students with disabilities who will be soon transitioning to adult life.  For these students, as well as their parents, the fairs provide information concerning a variety of resources that are available locally. Another added value of the transition fairs is the information that can be shared among educators in attendance who learn more about local resources for students and families not be able to attend the fairs themselves.    

    In our local area, the transition fair is sponsored by the Johnson County Transition Council.  Membership represents local stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds that have common focus on students with disabilities and their transition to adulthood.  Monthly meetings, as well as the organization of the annual transition fair, are planned and facilitated by members of the council. Local educators who are interested in learning more about the transition council can reach out to Sue Larmore at Center Grove Community School Corporation at larmores@centergrove.k12.in.us

    The transition fair sponsored by the Johnson County Transition Council will be held on Tuesday, September 18 from 6:30-8:00 pm at Center Grove High School, Hall of Excellence, 2717 S. Morgantown Rd, Greenwood, Indiana. (please enter from East Side).  In attendance will be representatives from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), as well as more than 30 vendors.  Please see the event flyer for additional information.

    Other upcoming transition fairs also include (click the link for more details):

    Inspiring Abilities Expo, Saturday, September 8 from 9:00 am-12:00 pm in Shelbyville

    Bartholomew County Transition Fair, Friday, October 26 from 8:30 am-2:30 pm in Columbus

    Misty

    ~Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator

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  • "In Transition"... Literally

    Posted by Misty Crouch on 8/17/2018 7:00:00 AM

    Last November, I was hired as the Transition Coordinator here at Earlywood.  “Transition Coordinator” is a very ambiguous job title. The job duties and responsibilities are often molded to fit the differing needs of the agency or school district.  So, even though I was also a Transition Coordinator at my previous district, my job duties here are a little different. My experience in education includes: 2 years as a Developmental Preschool teacher; 7 years as an Essential Skills Teacher; and over 4 years as a Transition Coordinator.  During the last two and a half years, I also completed my Masters in Educational Leadership and coursework for the Director of Exceptional Needs licensure. I graduated from IU this past May.

    Last year, the majority of my time was spent working with the Preschool Assessment Team (PAT), serving as the LEA representative for First Steps transition meetings for preschoolers, and starting to work with the INSPIRE program staff, as well as Non-Public School teachers.  However, my job duties this year are also experiencing a “transition.” I will be working more closely with the INSPIRE program, completing more supervision and evaluation of staff members, facilitating/co-facilitating LCs with Preschool, Essential Skills, and Non-Public teachers, continuing my responsibilities with the PAT, and facilitating trainings focused on transition IEPs and various IIEP components.

    I am excited to continue learn more about the students we serve and to have the opportunity to share resources and information through newsletter articles concerning all transition age students in preschool through college.  If you have any questions that involve transition, please contact Misty Crouch at mcrouch@earlywood.org

    Misty

    ~Misty Crouch, Transition Coordinator

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