Boltz Goes Unified.

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DSC_0019Boltz Middle School has gotten into the unified spirit. In partnership with Special Olympics, Boltz Middle School is offering Project Unified classes. Four classes are being offered, 2 for 6th graders and 2 for 7th and 8th graders. DSC_0213
The classes are offered based off of staff recommendations and are designed for students with and without developmental disabilities, to work together to plan and facilitate events.

DSC_0068The Project Unified Classes provide an opportunity for students to develop relationships as peers as well as build leadership skills and job skills. “We always start class with a journal question usually encouraging them to self-reflection, leading to growth and leadership,” says paraprofessional Joy Mcneil.

The classes are student driven, with help DSC_0282from Integrated Service paraprofessionals, Braden
Ackley and Joy Mcneil. The big event this season was the second annual Project Unified Basketball game held this past Saturday. Students spent the semester selecting and purchasing concession stand products, designing uniforms, creating fliers, and producing video DSC_0014advertisements to be shown on the morning announcements. Students went so far as to contactDSC_0046 the Denver Nuggets to request someone attend the event. Graciously, Nuggets coach and Community Ambassador Mark Randall made the trip from DSC_0240Denver to be a guest coach for one of the teams. Students also organized a half time game of crab-walk soccer, consisting of Coach Randall, players and DSC_0167students from the audience. Before heading back home, Coach Randall presented Boltz Middle School with a signed basketball andDSC_0056 high praise. He doted on the school for starting programs of unity early, instead of waiting until high school level where they are more common. The evening wrapped up with a full gym dance party. The perfect ending to a great evening.

Boltz Middle School staff have done a great service to students by providing these Project Unified Classes. In turn, students are making life long memories in a fun and unique way that they can take pride in.

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* Integrated Services would like to thank you to Coach Randall for his participation and support!

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

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Meet Madeleine van Oppen from Boltz Middle School

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Puzzle pieces offer mystery. They are a small piece of a complex, larger picture. Standing alone, a puzzle piece is merely a possibility, but put into the context of a larger picture and it is beautiful. A puzzle is an insightful symbol for autism. A piece of the puzzle at Boltz Middle School is teacher Madeleine van Oppen. Her positivity and passion for her students sets the tone in her classroom – students are more than the sum of their disability. Integrated Services coach Erin Coy describes Madeleine as “a wonderful advocate for her students and her program”.

Here is Madeleine in her own words:

“My name is Madeleine van Oppen and I am one of the two teachers of the center based autism program at Boltz Middle School.  I enjoy dancing, spending time with family and my dog, baking, and participating in any outdoor activities with my friends.  I am originally from the Netherlands and moved to Fort Collins when I was in sixth grade. I have four brothers, three of whom still live in the Netherlands, and one who lives in Fort Collins as well. My parents live in Fort Collins, while my extended family all live in Europe. I moved back to the Netherlands when I graduated high school to attend the University of Amsterdam originally to pursue a future in dance (ballet, jazz/modern), but decided to come back to Fort Collins after my freshman year.

I enrolled at Colorado State University, shifted my focus and majored in Human Development and Family Studies. I got a job working as a care provider for children who had intellectual disabilities. I became involved in every volunteer program CSU had to offer, spending time with kids and adults with intellectual disabilities, including Special Needs Swim and TGIF. My senior year I became a research assistant for a professor who was studying developmental milestones in young kids with Autism.

Upon graduation, the principal and classroom teacher I interned with in college hired me as a special education paraprofessional. While working as a paraprofessional, I explored other career options. I worked as a class assistant for the Colorado Foundation of Conductive Education (an alternative therapy for kids with muscular disorders), as a nanny for a boy with special needs and as a private tutor. After two years of just working I decided I was sure I wanted to become a special education teacher and pursued my master’s in special education. While going to school I managed to keep working as a special education paraprofessional and also became a direct support associate for an adult with an intellectual disability to gain more experience in transitions to adulthood. I finished my degree with a  Special Education-Generalist from the University of Northern Colorado in December 2014.

van Oppen & Beach 2015I was hired as a teacher in the program at Boltz shortly thereafter and I absolutely love it here. Since then, the other autism teacher, Bonnie Beach, the ILS teacher Stacy Denham, paraprofessionals and myself have worked together to support all of our students with extensive needs as a team instead of as separate programs. What I love most about my job is that there is never a dull moment and not one day is ever like another. I love watching my students learn, have fun, laugh, and seeing them take pride in what they have learned.  We all have so much fun together, and students and staff really just work as one big team here.”

We are fortunate to have the educators we do in Poudre School District.

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

Get to know Bonnie Beach, Boltz Middle School.

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Middle School is not a dull place, and Boltz Middle School is no exception. It is a bustling place with a combination of energetic and sometimes low-key youth. Wrestling through the developmental angst of the preteen years is a story of the ages.   When you add special needs, such as autism to this it can create some interesting times during a middle schooler’s career.  Those who have found their way to Boltz Middle School are in great hands, though! This inventive, nurturing team goes above and beyond for their students.

The collaborative work being done for children with autism at Boltz Middle School has translated into a culture of inclusion and acceptance around the school. One teacher within the program for students with autism is Bonnie Beach. Her upbeat, gentle disposition sets her students at ease. Here is more about Bonnie:

“I grew up on a small cattle ranch on the eastern plains of Colorado in a tiny Beach, Bonnie 2015town called Matheson. I studied Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University and I earned my master’s degree from University of Colorado Colorado Springs in Special Education. Currently, I live in Loveland with my husband Bill, our cute little baby, Annie, and our two dogs, Emily and Brie.

 I love doing anything outdoors and singing along with the radio in the car. My favorite thing about my job is just about everything but if I had to pick I would say it is the kids for sure! I get to learn so much every day from the students I work with! They teach me how to try to always look at the world from the perspective of others.”

Integrated Service Coach Erin Coy had this to say about Bonnie, “Bonnie is a ray of sunshine and support for her students.”

“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.” Author Unknown

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