Congratulations Mayor Award Winners!

We are so proud of the work being done in Poudre School District.

Mayors award 2015 (8)Mayors award 2015 (10)Mayors award 2015 (12)Lisa Hernandez, Lead BCBA,lead Autism Coach and SLP was awarded Employee of the Year for the City of Fort Collins Commission on Disabilities!

Mayors award 2015 (7)Poudre School District parent, Cari Brown, received the Mayor’s Award – Spirit of Fort Collins for the City of Fort Collins Commission on Disabilities for her work to support legislation for increased home supports for children with autism.

Linda Miller, Poudre School District parent, Mayors award 2015 (1)was recognized for her outstanding volunteerism, received the Mayor’s Award as the Volunteer of the Year for the City of Fort Collins Commission on Disabilities.
Also, congratulations go out to all of our Mayors Award Nominees:Mayors award 2015 (3)
Bryan Kiel, Poudre High School Assistant Principal and Integrated Services Case Manager recognized on behalf of Poudre High School; Brenda Pacior Carroll, Olander Elementary SLP and Gayna Jobe, Cooper Home Integrated Services Teacher.


Fort Collins High School Shines Bright With Concession Stand.

DSC_0020The Project Unified flag football games are in full swing. While the players are on the field, another group of students are showing their school spirit off the field. DSC_0173Each week a group of students operate a concession stand for the football games. The concession stand is run by student volunteers from Fort Collins High School. Colleen Reyes, the Speech and Language Clinician for FCHS, started the concession stand as a way for students to support fellow Lambkins while also gaining job skill training. Reyes says the concession stand “is DSC_0058giving students opportunities to work with peers, practice customer service and money skills, as well as generalize communication skills outside of the classroom/ therapy setting.”

Student volunteers are tasked with buying prepackaged snacks to sell, setting the DSC_0158stand up, exchanging money, and supporting their school. Volunteers consist of students with and without disabilities. The proceeds from the stand go toward the Fort Collins High School Autism Program.





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

Week 1 – Unified Flag Football Photos

Photos from the Flag Football program made possible through a partnership between Poudre School District athletic departments and Special Olympic of Colorado.

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

The best part of back to school time

The Integrated Service administrative team was asked what their favorite part of back to school time is…locker hallway

“I enjoy seeing all the new (clean) outfits students wear with pride. Teachers are looking pretty good too. Classrooms have a fresh look. In general you can just feel lots of positive energy and schools are full of possibilities!”
– Renée Ostergren, Integrated Services Coach

“I love the smell of fresh, new, sharp crayons, the feel of fall starting to appear,   and the buzz in classrooms as new relationships are being formed.”            -Kara P. Harbison, Integrated Services Coordinatorbackpacks

“My favorite part of back to school is to see all the school teams working together to support all of our students. The teamwork is amazing!”                                      – Tressa Evans, Integrated Services Behavior Coach/BCBA

“I live very near one of the High Schools.  Every summer about the second week of August – I can hear the school band starting up practices.  I love hearing the band director talking to the students – he is so positive.  The music is fun to hear and gets better by the day.  By the time school starts these students have been practicing twice a day for several weeks and they hit the ground ready to play and march!  It is an awesome thing to see and hear!”  -Romie Tobin PH.D., Integrated Services Coordinator

“My favorite part of “back to school” is watching and listening to enthusiastic staff prepare for their students. I also love watching students on the first day of class.  Their energy, excitement, and visible love for their school is palpable and contagious!”                                                                                                                                                – Sarah Belleau Director for Integrated Services

front of school bus

“Back to School” for me means eager    faces entering the school building excited for a new school year, yet unsure of what the year will bring until new relationships are built and learning blossoms.”                  -Erin Coy, Integrated Services Coach

“The ‘back to school’ time is exciting as you get to know new people, catch up with how things have gone over the summer, anticipate the exciting new things to come for this year and create goals to accomplish this year!

An exciting time during the school day for everyone is recess!  It is a perfect time for students to get in brain breaks and build friendships; it is also a great time to work with students and build relationships with students.  Make sure to play with your students.” Cale Whicker, Integrated Services Coordinator.

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

Special Education Advisory Committee 2015-2016

SEAC flyer 2015_16-page-001

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

What is Early Childhood Education?

1240033_1403026833251384_8457715177314237905_n      IMG_6399During the summer, there is a group of hard working people preparing for the youngest among us to start school. For much of the summer, some of the Early Childhood Education staff in Poudre School District work to walk families through the application and screening process for their children to help find a place for educational success. Early intervention is an important piece to the overall success of a student with learning challenges as well as socio/economic struggles. The importance of early learning cannot be stressed enough.


IMG_6400 (2)What is early childhood education? Seems simple enough to answer.  It is the education children receive before they are of kindergarten age. Early childhood education in Poudre School District is comprised of a few existing programs, as well as a designated number of openings for tuition based preschool. These programs are Head Start, Colorado Preschool Program and special education.

The differences among the programs relate to their funding sources.  When a child reaches the classroom though, they are all offered the same high quality education. Tuition based preschool is offered for $322.00‐$350.00/month – depending upon the amount of class time. If a child IMG_6404has an Individual Education Plan (IEP), there is no cost to the program. Lunch and snacks are purchased by guardians for all programs, with some reduction based upon financial need.

Head Start is a federally funded program that established its roots in 1964 by Sargent Shriver under the leadership of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Shriver founded Head Start by bringing a panel of child experts in to discuss how to combat poverty and create effective child development programs. In 1995 the first grants were given for Head Start. In 1998 the program was expanded to include full-day and full-year funds. According the Office of Head Start, by 2007 the program was amended to its current form with the purpose “to promote the school readiness of low-income children”. (

IMG_6403The Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) is a state funded initiative that started in 1988 designed to help 4 and 5 year olds in need of language development. The program served 2,000 children beginning in 1988. In 1992, Colorado Senate passed a bill to make CPP a permanent program. “This bill also expanded the target population to not only include children in need of language development, but also children ‘who lack overall learning readiness due to significant family risk factors and children being served by Social Services as neglected or dependent children’.” (

A child with an IEP has been identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to qualify for services through special education.

IMG_6391Early Childhood Education offers a wonderful mix of educational tools not only for students but also for families and parents. The program includes home visits, center visit, community events and written material for parents. For students, the benefits seem endless. The program is well rounded by educating children not only on academics but also health, nutrition and being a part of the community. It is a collaborative plan with parents and teachers working closely together to increase student growth and achievement.

Deanna Fuller, an experienced Early Childhood Special Educator and Head Start IMG_6393teacher in Poudre School District, offered a look into a typical day. They begin with welcome and large group time working on letters, numbers and academia. Followed this is breakfast for the morning class and lunch follows for the afternoon group. Next comes bathroom time to brush teeth. Story time follows, then centers and work stations. After working and playing hard, the group shares a snack then has goodbye time. No matter what the activity, everything is treated as a learning opportunity. At lunch and snack, different food groups are discussed and everything is tested with either “a IMG_6395lick, nibble or bite” according to Mrs. Fuller. During show and tell, questions like “what is a question?”, “what is a comment?” teach the children valuable group skills. There are designated times where school phycologists, occupational therapists and speech language clinicians come to work with children in their school environment.

IMG_6401 (2)To know early childhood education is to be a part of something bigger than just one person or school. That being said, it is the people who are the heart and soul of the program that make it effective and special. They give life to the ideas and the initiative called Head Start that was discussed so long ago by Sargent Shriver and his colleagues. So what is early childhood education? Just look at the smiles on the faces of the future.

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

A warm welcome to Cale Whicker, Integrated Services Coordinator.

IMG_6386 (2) The morning air is cooling and kids are lining up at bus stops, which means one thing… back to school time! Some of the earliest staff to return from summer rest and relaxation are administrators. Integrated Services is proud to welcome a new administrator to the team. Cale Whicker has joined Poudre School District as an Integrated Services Coordinator.

Cale comes to us from Centennial BOCES, in Greeley with an extensive educational background and special education experience.  He began his journey at the young age of 13 working under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, helping students with autism. By 16, he helped out as a paraprofessional for students with severe autism in his small town in Alaska. With all of his experience working with students with special needs, it only seemed natural that Cale make a career in education, a fact that he says he tried hard to fight. “I come from four generations of teachers, so I really thought I wanted to do something else.” Call it destiny or simply working in your strengths, a career in education called his name.

After some time abroad in Sweden, Cale received his undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado in psychology with a minor in special education. He also earned his master’s degree from UNC in special education. In the words of Cale’s grandmother Margret Fautchald,”if you are not learning you are dying, so take every opportunity you have.” He took that to heart and received an additional master’s in education and human resources from Colorado State University. As if that wasn’t enough, he continued and acquired a certificate from UNC for special education director’s licensure.

Cale’s first school district was in Keansburg, Alaska at Hoff Elementary as a special education teacher focused on reading and behavior. After a time at the elementary school, Cale went on to work for a private company as a therapist. IMG_6389 (2)After that opportunity, Estes Park called his name and he took on a hybrid role as Director of Special Education as well as Elementary School Principal. Cale’s heart to change the way special education is viewed school wide lead him to work for two years as a second grade, general education teacher. His hope was to model how general education could facilitate and embrace children with disabilities. After a few years, he realized the best way to enact change was from an administrative level. Centennial BOCES in Greeley was the place he felt he was able to make a difference. At Centennial BOCES, Cale’s role was Assistant Director of Special Education. Not looking for a change, Cale felt settled in his role as Assistant Director. When a position as an Integrated Services Coordinator came up in the city he calls home he had to investigate further. While interviewing with PSD, the vision and mission of Integrated Services resonated deeply with him. Cale has made the transition to PSD with enthusiasm and is a delight to have around.

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

Fall 2015 Unified Flag Football Schedule

Unified Flag Football Game Schedule 2015-page-001

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

Integrated Service Equation

IS equation (2)

The greater the least restrictive environment, combined with purpose, planning, pedagogy plus collaboration, communicating, core content equates to a greater student achievement.

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

Poudre School District Summer Institute

You would imagine that as that final school bell rings, teachers would be running for the door alongside their students. However, teachers remained hard at work. Some teachers stayed behind to organize and wrap things up in their classrooms and schools, others enrolled in the Poudre School District Summer Institute.

Summer Institute is a way for Integrated Services educators to improve, build upon and strengthen their instructional practices for students with disabilities. They worked together, to problem solve or create plans for student’s areas of growth. In addition, it is a way for educators to earn credits which further their career path. This model originated with Mill Levy funds to allow staff in all curricular areas to have an opportunity to work together. The goal is to work on pieces that can be shared across grade levels and buildings and used in collaboration with other teams as well as general education.

This summer, Integrated Services (special education) offered a variety of courses including:

  • Assistive Technology for students with extensive needs.
  • Aligning IEP goals to Colorado Essential Skills.
  • Integrated Services Behavior toolkit.
  • Alignment of Speech- Language Intervention with General Education Curriculum.
  • MCAT Intervention Guides for Speech-Language Pathologists.
  • SED Professional Development Proposal.
  • Administrative Intervention planning time.
  • Classified Academy think tank.
  • Transition curriculum development.
  • ILS rubric development.

Summer Institute courses offered teachers and other support staff input, into different areas of special education in Poudre School District in addition to learning new skills and strategies. Once Summer Institute concluded, there would be tangible products which will be shared with all in the Fall.  Here are a few examples of summer institute 2015 courses.

The assistive technology course for students with extensive needs, enabled participants to learn how to use Board Maker, Pics Writer and Sym Writer.  These IMG_4570software programs offer symbols, pictures and words tobe printed or added to devices by teaching staff, to assist in communication. The intent came about as staff desired time to create more extensive and interactive lesson plans, to use as resources in supporting grade level curricular areas. The technology allows for content ranged from simple words to complex sentences. Poudre School District occupational therapists Trisha Atherly and Elizabeth Crawford IMG_4569and speech and language pathologist Anne Scott, created a course to teach educators how the technology can be used. Participants spent time learning about these programs, then were given the opportunity to work using them. They created assignments as well as boards to use in their own classrooms. They then had the chance to share what they had created with their peers and dialogue about their products.

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Integrated Services Behavior toolkit was designed to discuss and create a wide range of resource materials related to supporting behaviors in the classroom. These materials will aid special education and general education instructors as resources. Poudre School District Integrated Services is committed to understanding behaviors students may exhibit as well as the function they serve, and offering resources so that educators are empowered to support all students. During the two week session, guest speakers were brought in to offer their expertise and help the group think through everything from working together effectively, understanding functions of behavior, data collection to then compile material on a google website in a way all teachers will be able to access.IMG_4456   IMG_4509

In every district there is a group of support staff called classified employees. These amazing employees consist of paraprofessionals as well as administrative staff. This is a group whom has hands on experience with students throughout the school year. The Integrated Services Classified Academy are classes that exist to prepare classified staff for their various positions and continue their education. There are a list of learning plans that are required as part of their job. The Classified Academy Think Tank that was offered for Summer Institute created a space for classified staff to have input into what the academy includes and give input on courses to offer that would best support the work they do with students.

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Transition Curriculum Development comprised of a group who work directly with older students (18-21) before and during transition programs. This is a group who are passionate about the future of students beyond Poudre School District. Their objective as educators, is to prepare students for their future to be successful with employment and independent living. The plan for the summer course was to brainstorm a way to streamline information about every student in a way that current and future support staff will all be on the same page. The desire is that education plans be done in a way that students are active participants. They developed a folder system that would follow the student through each IEP meeting and transitioning grades. They are also in the process of creating transition material for families. All information would be in one place so that nothing slips through the cracks. Their effort is to promote transition talks early to take away some of the fear that goes along with entering adulthood. IMG_4507   IMG_4508

The SED professional development proposal is a project directed by Aaron Vogt. The course consisted of people who work in programs for students with significant behaviors. The course was designed to put together a proposal to submit to Integrated Service director, Sarah Belleau. The proposal lays out a plan, including cost and format for a team, designated to work on professional development for all staff. It will be geared towards helping students who exhibit more intense behaviors. The team comprised of a group that has also been part of a PLC (Professional Learning Community). The PLC was a committee, compiled after an independent evaluation had been conducted. This is another way PSD Integrated Services is constantly striving for checks and balances to keep improving.

This is just a glimpse into the hard work our dedicated staff continues once the final school bells rings.

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.

Marian Wright Edelman

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