What I Wish You Knew – Hettie’s Story.

pic 1For the past 2 years, Poudre School District’s Integrated Services Department has been fortunate to have Hettie Hueber as a part of the team. As a mother of four children, the youngest of which has Down Syndrome, she has offered a unique perspective and insight to a department that is charged with the care and wellbeing of students with disabilities.

To understand Hettie, you must rewind the clock eight-plus years. After raising two children to adulthood, Hettie found herself the mother of a toddler with another baby on the way. When Cora, the youngest of the four came along, life changed forever. Cora was one of about 6,000 babies born in the United States each year with Down Syndrome, making it the most common genetic condition according to the National Down Syndrome Society.

“In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.” (For this information and more regarding Down syndrome visit NationalDownSyndromeSociety.org)

Apart from concerns related to a heart condition Cora was born with, the Hueber family was elated to have their beautiful baby join their clan. Hettie did not let the concerns of others weigh her down. “I never needed to grieve,” shared Hettie, though she did wish that people would have congratulated her on her baby girl rather than offer condolences. Life had changed forever, by offering a brighter outlook on life! Cora has brought perspective and spunk to the family. “There are enough negative things happening in the world; it helps you focus on the positive and what is important,” says Hettie.

When asked what she wished people knew about her, the most important take-away was that being the mother of a child with a disability is not a tragedy. She believes the most important thing you can teach your children is to be kind. “You can be tenacious, driven and successful in this world and still be kind.” As a self-proclaimed “inclusionist”, Hettie’s desire is that all students everywhere be taught together. By helping children understand and embrace kindness, combined with growing up together all throughout their school years, she trusts that a world of accepting and inclusive adults will be formed.

We wish Hettie good luck on her next journey of student teaching in Early Childhood Education.

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Our important School Psychologists!

In Poudre School District, 33 well trained, caring school psychologists focus on understanding and supporting students through the difficulties of adolescence. Many students go their entire school career without needing the support of school psychologists but for others, these experts are invaluable.

The role of a school psychologist is constantly in motion. They work directly with students and are experts in intervention design; behavioral assessment; direct intervention; and addressing mental health needs with all students through assessment. They work directly with counselors, teachers and administrators on understanding behaviors to help meet each student’s individual needs. They also help parents with their concerns and how best to navigate these concerns.

Brittany Hutson has held the role of lead school psychologist DSC_0018in Poudre School District for the past five years. Her love of students and the way their brains grow and develop over time led her to become a school psychologist. Hutson and her team work tirelessly to learn the ‘why’ behind student behaviors.

All comprehensive high schools have a full time school psychologist. Most comprehensive middle school psychologists are full time or close to full time and elementary schools have a school psychologist in their buildings multiple times per week. Many principals are seeing the value of having a full time psychologist and are increasing their building support by using their individual schools’ budgets to address mental health needs, behaviors, interventions and social skills for all students.

As any mental health professional will tell you, behavior is a form of communication. They must figure out what is going on to best understand each student and to help students find and use appropriate forms of behavior. “We have an amazing group of experts in their fields” says Hutson. Many school psychologists are experts in areas as diverse as trauma, behavior, academic interventions and reading disorders to mention a few. Hutson explains that by having people versed in many different areas, they are able to work together as one unit to share their skill sets. “They do a good job of addressing student needs!” says Hutson.

Rice Elementary School principal Karen Kohen says, “Having a full time psychologist at Rice has dramatically changed the way we are able to support students with emotional, mental health, and behavior needs.  Not only our students with disabilities, but also our general education students who are challenged in these areas are now receiving one-on-one or small group support.  In the same way interventionists address the needs of students who struggle academically by targeting specific skills, our psychologist addresses the specific mental health needs of our struggling students.  Our psychologist also provides support to the teachers by providing tools and strategies to use within the classroom so that ALL students can be successful.”

Christine Hendricks, principal at Tavelli Elementary School says “Our school psychologist is a critical part of the core team that supports all students at Tavelli.  I value that she observes, assesses, works with and writes plans for any student that has social emotional, behavioral or academic needs.  I value the work of our school psychologist.  She is currently at my school three and a half days a week and I would love to have her five days a week!”

The African proverb says “It takes a village to raise a child.” Never have truer words been spoken.

 

 

 

 

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