Sensory Smarts.

Sensory Smart Classroom.

team pic

 (Whitney Bennett-Clear, Mathew Bruno, Sara Thompson & Kathy Roberts)

red desk fidgetIt is not uncommon to hear someone talk about being overstimulated. Have you ever considered that there may be an amount of stimulation that is just right? The team at Lincoln Middle School did just that. School social worker, Whitney Bennett-Clear saw a sensory need that was not being met, so she and Integrated Service teachers Sara Thompson and Mathew Bruno took on the challenge. Their goal was the integration of sensory tools within their classroom and out in student’s general education classrooms.

To make their dream a reality the team applied for a Supporting Partnerships in Innovative Education or SPIE Grant. SPIE Grants are designed for teachers to include innovative teaching materials for creative and inventive learning. The process was a true collaboration. Parent Stephanie Haynes worked closely with grant coordinator Stacy Poncelow to compose the grant with the Lincoln Middle School staffers. The group was awarded $2,346.92 with which they were able to purchase standing work desks, rocking chairs, balance stools, fidgets, light minimizing tools, scented oils, weighted blankets and more.

bracletThe philosophy behind the sensory smart classroom incorporates our need for sensory stimulation and depression. Think about it, there are times that we may be sluggish and think to have a cup of coffee or bounce a foot while concentrating. The purpose of these aids are to ramp-up energy or decrease sensory stimulation in order to focus. A target group of students, are working toward being able to identify and facilitate these needs. Mr. Bruno, Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Bennett-Clear have streamlined the use of socially appropriate tools for students. The goal is for students to identify what they need to be successful and access it independently. Does someone feel that rocking would allow them to focus on the task at hand? Grab a rocking chair. Does someone feel that holding and manipulating something pliable would help them relax? Grab a fidget. The only way this is possible is if they are available. That was the vision for the Lincoln Middle School staff.

By providing tools, students are able to accommodate their sensory needs, in return the student agrees to a contract of sorts in which they agree to use them appropriately and responsibly. So what are their favorite sensory tools? Mr. Bruno likes the standing desk, Mrs. Bennett-Clear likes the rocking chairs, as do the students and Mrs. Thompson likes a firm desk top fidget.

Congratulations Sara Thompson, Mathew Bruno and Whitney Bennet-Clear on your 2014 SPIE Grant.

balance stool    rocking chair standing desk

weighted blanketPoudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                    2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

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Congratulations to all Mary Hull award recipients and nominees!

There is so much to be proud of around Poudre School District! Here are the 2015 Mary Hull award winners and nominees.

Mary Hull Award:

Gayna Jobe, Cooper Home Learning 4 Living

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(Second Row: Tristan Belew, Devon Little, Grady Bearden, Gayna Jobe, Kim Nelson, Jourdan Hersch, Sue Cecil, Beth Ackerson, Shannah Scott, Emilie Ring; First row: Ryan Davis, Christian Llamas, Sammie O.)

“Gayna has a remarkable knack for learning what her students need and being able to not only tailor her day to meet those diverse needs, but being able to switch on a dine in her personal interactions with students throughout the day.”

—Truman Solverud, Vocational Paraprofessional-Cooper Home Learning 4 Living

Collaborative Award:

Kelby Benedict- Assistant Principal at Poudre High School

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(Kathy Ghidossi, Kathy MacKay, Heidi Graber, Kelby Benedict, Sarah Belleau and Christine Villard)

Kelby “has shown concern and care for the students, has responded professionally and with incredible skill and tact in difficult situations, and has been a leader to his Integrated Services staff.  He cares about all his students regardless of their ability, and teams that support these students.”

—Matt Cloven, Children’s Advocacy Specialist, Arc of Larimer County

Honorary Award:

Natalie Littauer- Peer Helper at Rocky Mountain High School

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 (Craig Woodall ,Karen Bennett, Natalie Littauer, Wayne Moddelmog, Brett Larsen)

“Natalie spends her day improving the school experience for our students with special needs.  She is a peer helper and spends lunches and passing periods helping our students.  She is actively involved in our Unified Basketball team, Special Olympics and Connection club.  She is committed to improving social and emotional experiences here at Rocky on a daily basis.”

—Craig Woodall, Rocky Mountain High School Principal

Mary Hull Award Nominees:

Kathy Bettis, PSD Global Academy

Erin Gilbert-Poudre High School

Cathy Hettleman-Fort Collins High School

Kelli Schultz-Bethke Elementary School

Tricia VanHorssen-Rocky Mountain High School

 

Collaborative Award Nominees:

Chad Kuhlman- Fort Collins High School

 

Honorary Award Nominees: 

Tom Drungil- Fort Collins High School

Ruth Miller- Zach Elementary School

Teresa Pelster- Bennett Elementary School

They shoot, they score! Unified Basketball is a win.

If you are looking to be inspired, you don’t have to look far. Poudre School District in connection with Special Olympics’ Project Unified has formed it’s very own unified sports IMG_0260basketball league with not only one but four unified high school basketball teams. Unified Sports are teams consisting of students with and without intellectual disabilities. The heart behind this project is that when you practice together, play together and learn together,  understanding grows and friendships are formed.

To get to this point was a labor of love and quite a few people. One of the most instrumental people is Erin Coy, Integrated Services Coach for Poudre School District. After 10 years as a special education educator she was frustrated with the lack of opportunity at a high school level for her students with special needs.

In 2011 she and 4 other educators from Poudre School District and Thompson School District came together to create a Special Olympics Track and Field Event for high school students in the two districts. “Our mission was to provide the opportunity for students with disabilities to compete in athletic activities as a representative of their high school.” says Coy.

The event was a success and a relationship between PSD and Special Olympics was formed. In 2012, Project Unified was gaining traction in the state of Colorado. An area representative contacted Coy about the possibility of bringing Unified Sports to Fort Collins. This was what Coy had been looking for. That year she put together a unified basketball team with students from Fossil Ridge High School to play exhibition games at the Budweiser Event Center during the Harlem Globetrotters Show. The same team had the opportunity to play later that year in an exhibition game at the Pepsi Center for a Denver Nuggets game.

It was time to take it to the next level. In the fall of 2013, a district committee including Rick Yonker (2012 interim district athletic director), Sarah Belleau, and the athletic directors from each school was formed.  The committee with help from Chaka Sutton and Allo Perry from Project Unify Colorado, founded Unified Sports in PSD with 2014 Winter Basketball.

Just like most teams, players try out and partner players have an additional application component. Teams generally practice about 2 times per week. Many of the schools spend practice time with freshman JV, and varsity basketball. Unified Sports are funded by PSD and Unified Sports Grants and  are free to the public. This is something you should not miss!635576567977326195-Coloradoan-012415-UnifiedBasketball-8

Unified Basketball Winter 2014/2015 Schedule.

Coaches

Fort Collins High School:  Stacy Sidebottom, Kelly Kappel  & Troy Tollar

Fossil Ridge High School:  Kim Eberhart, Jamie Westyn, & Brittany Hutson

Rocky Mountain High School:  Amy McLean & Chris O’Grady

Poudre High School:  Wendi Miller & Lisa Owsley

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                     2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Philanthropists of Fort Collins High School

Something Beautiful is Happening at Fort Collins High School!

We are raising money for a good cause, but even more important we want our voices to be heard. Please view and share the video that our class put together with the help of PSD tech. genius Michael Foster. You can donate, Feb. 2nd through Feb. 28th   at the following link:

http://communityfunded.com/projects/kristac/help-fchs-prevent-suicide/?uref=C4V7YF

The students of the Fort Collins High School Give Next Service Learning class are philanthropists.  We give of our time through service projects and volunteerism. We give of our talent through crafts that we make to give away and to sell to raise money to give away.  We give of our treasure through providing grant money to local non-profit organizations who inspire positive change.

Our mission is to make a difference in our community with assistance from the Give Next Program of United Way of Larimer County, financial support from Woodward Charitable Trust, OtterCares Foundation, Houska Automotive, and additional fundraising efforts. Together we will fund local nonprofit organizations that focus on suicide prevention and bringing hope to the hopeless.

Krista Churchill

FCHS Integrated Services Teacher

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                     2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521