What I Wish You Knew – Teagan’s Story.

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“And the winner of Homecoming Queen 2016 is Teagan Motschall!” September 23, 2016 was a special day for Poudre High School. It was homecoming week; it was a football victory over Rocky Mountain High School; and it was a win for the whole Poudre High School community. That evening, 19-year-old Teagan, with an infectious smile, was queen for the night. Teagan, who is beset by health complications and unable to speak without assistive technology, sparkled like the gem she is.

Teagan’s childhood was a fight from her first moments. At birth, Teagan suffered a brain injury that would significantly affect her brain. Within 6 minutes of her birth, baby Teagan began what would become a life of seizures. Through determination, fight and her faith, Teagan has made the most of life with, and despite, her limitations. To friends and family, she is the sassy girl with a great sense of humor.

Being the oldest of four children, Teagan’s siblings have never known a life untouched by Family photo (2).pngdisability. Teagan’s brother Taylor, who is 13 months younger, has helped her become the young woman she is. He treats her the same as anyone else. As children often do, he expected a lot from her. He didn’t stop to consider her limitations; instead, he pushed her beyond them. The night Teagan was nominated for Homecoming Queen, her whole family, including her brother who made the hour drive from college, were there cheering her on. As we sat and visited for this article, Teagan scrolled through years of photos saved on her phone, beaming with pride over pictures and videos of her sisters and brother.

“We are better people for having her in our family,” shares mom Christine. They have had enough close calls to know how precious life is and how quickly it can be gone. When Teagan was eleven she experienced an allergic reaction to pain medication. One evening while napping on the family’s couch, she became unresponsive and her heart stopped.  She had for all intents and purposes died. Paramedics were called and revived Teagan. “We got her back!” says Christine.

Over the last year and a half Teagan has become a beloved member of the Poudre High School Community. “I am so happy that Teagan came to Poudre High School and that I have been one of her teachers. She brings the best kind of energy to our school; she not only has a great sense of humor, but also real determination to try everything and have fun while she’s doing it. She is an incredibly valuable member of Poudre High School and will be truly missed when she graduates this year!” Lisa Owsley, Integrated Service teacher, shared.

“The thing I appreciate and cherish most about Teagan is her sense of humor. That girl is one of the funniest people I know. She’s also incredibly caring and has a great attitude. basketballSometimes I catch her playing with my hair and loving on me, just because. She’s got so much love in her heart and she radiates that to everybody she meets. In Unified basketball, I might have perfected her shooting form but in high school she didn’t need my help. She has shaped me into a better human being and has helped me be successful in viewing things in a different perspective. Teagan has been successful at PHS in the fact that she has touched so many people’s hearts. She is unafraid to make new friends and is very accepting of everyone. She puts her all into her academics, sports, and the meaningful relationships she creates along the way. I am truly blessed to call Teagan Motschall my friend,” shares classmate and friend Madi Giles. Whether it’s secret handshakes or playing together on snapchat, Teagan has been accepted and loved by her community and peers.

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(Teagan and her favorite artist Taylor Swift)

Teagan’s favorite class is PE with Mr. Goyler, so it’s no wonder she is active in Poudre High School’s Unified flag football and basketball teams. She spends free time with her family, care takers and her Capernum (Young Life) group.

“We are so grateful for the Poudre High School kids, Ms. Owsley, paras and teachers.” Christine, Teagan’s mom, shared why Teagan is thriving at school. “I genuinely believe it [the school culture toward people with disabilities] comes from the top down at Poudre. Lisa has revolutionized how typical kids’ attitudes have changed toward students with needs. Lisa gets everyone excited! She loves her students! She is amazing with all of the students.” Christine had no shortage of praise for the PHS staff, in particular Lisa Owsley. “Every time I am around her I think, I want to be like Lisa, to love as much as Lisa does.”

In addition to the Poudre High School community, the Motschall family is excited about and supportive of High Pointe Services. High Pointe Services is an organization that provides private care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A variety of services are offered based upon the needs and desires of each client. By partnering with PHS, High Point, and home care providers, Teagan’s family is given the chance to be father, mother, brother, sisters and not simply care takers.

It’s not hard to figure out why Teagan was elected Homecoming Queen by her peers. She is brave, resilient, sassy and inspiring. I dare you to see her smile and not return it in full.homecoming-2-2

Poudre School District Integrated Services

Director: Sarah Belleau

2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Autism Spectrum Disorder

DSC_0011April is Autism Awareness month. Over the last 10 years, recognition of Autism Spectrum Disorder has grown significantly. Organizations such as Autism Speaks and the National Autism Association have increased dialogue about what the autism spectrum is and its symptoms and treatments.

According to the National Autism Association, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning.”

People often ask the question, “What does autism look like?” While this can unintentionally seem to be a loaded and offensive question, it does not have a simple answer. Autism Spectrum Disorder is exactly that, a spectrum. Google dictionary describes a spectrum as “Used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points.” This wide range allows for the focus to be less about a diagnosis and more about an individual. In Poudre School District, education is about the student first with a diagnosis offering additional pieces to support an understanding of the student from a clinical standpoint.

According to AutismSpeaks.org., “Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have intellectual disability (IQ less than 70), and many have normal to above average intelligence. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means.”

Awareness builds better understanding, and better understanding leads to greater acceptance. April awareness is a great opportunity to kick off the conversation.

 

 

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

Fort Collins High School ACE program.

DSC_0387Klyd’s Closet sounds like the name of the newest Fort Collins boutique, however it is not new and it is not a boutique. It is an amazing little thrift/consignment shop run by the Fort Collins High School Alternative Cooperative Education program.

Klyd’s Closet got its name six years ago when it was founded because it was literally run out of a closet. Over the years, their space has expanded and sells merchandise such as healthy snacks, gently used donated goods, consigned items, and pieces created by students in other programs. The store gives students job, tendering and sales experience. In addition to Klyd’s Closet, ACE facilitates jobs in the FCHS cafeteria and ACE coffee shop. The goal is to expose students to a variety of jobs to help them find what connect with them. Students begin their work experience within FCHS and when ready, generally during their senior year, have the opportunity to apply for internships in the community. This semester, two students have internships with private companies in Fort Collins.

Program success can be directly attributed to the wonderful Integrated Service staff at FCHS. Director of Integrated Services Sarah Belleau says, “Cathy Hettleman has a ready smile and displays great enthusiasm when she talks about her students and their work experiences.  She has provided creative solutions for students needing a more diverse experience.”

ACE teacher Cathy Hettleman is an energetic advocate for students, who believes in their potential for the future. She knows all too well that students with special needs are told what they cannot do. Her mission is to help them discover what they can do and where they will find success post-high school. Integrated Services paraprofessional Patty Daniels shares, “my favorite part is that we are able to support so many different kids. We are able to help so many different needs. The day just flies by. I love the variety.”

Klyd’s Closet is a student run organization and is always looking for donations and/or consigned items. Local businesses are welcome to consign items with the FCHS ACE program. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Cathy Hettleman at chettlem@psdschools.org.

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

Fossil Ridge High School ACE program.

DSC_0031Fossil Ridge High School staff is a well caffeinated, happy group thanks to the Alternative Cooperative Education program at FRHS. As part of the entrepreneurial curriculum of the ACE program, students learn the ins and outs of running a coffee cart. Not only do they learn barista skills and cash handling, the service has expanded to accepting online orders from staff for students deliver!

In addition to the coffee cart, the Fossil Ridge ACE program runs the concession stand during school sporting events and holds an annual geranium sale called Bloomtown. In the spring DSC_0041each year, students in the ACE program purchase plant starters which they grow in the Fossil Ridge High School green house. Students then transplant the flowered plants into nice pots to sell. As a group, students chose a charity and donate a portion of their plant sale proceeds. This process teaches students real life job skills as well as philanthropy and what it means to give back to the community.

ACE teacher Joe Allen has fostered an atmosphere addressing the “whole student.t” Each day, he checks in with his students and staff by asking them to rate their mood on a scale from 1-10 and then gives them the opportunity to share why. This has created a platform for students to express how they are feeling and what their particular needs may be that day. Allen coaches students in all areas of job readiness including things that would be easily overlooked by many of us, like thank you letters after an intern completion.

Director of Integrated Services for Poudre School District Sarah Belleau expalins, “calm is a great word to describe Joe Allen.  His calm demeanor makes it easy for students to connect with him.  Also, the coffee cart that Joe established at FRHS is a popular spot for many staff!”

 

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

Poudre High School ACE program.

Poudre High School is alive with professionally made banners. The source of this school spirit is none other than the Alternative Cooperative Education program’s Sign Shop. PHS students that take either economics or personal financial literacy through ACE are eligible to work in the Sign Shop as paid employees, earning credit toward graduation. Not only does the Sign Shop make banners, they are able to also create decals, t-shirts and other promotional items.

“At PHS, the ACE program is well known for their sign shop.  Students work hard to create professional signs that are located in the community and in PSD.  Integrated Services signs were made by the PHS sign shop and we frequently hear positive comments about them,” says Poudre School District Integrated Services Director Sarah Belleau.

Wendy Tomaschow and Wendi Bryner work together to create two sides to the ACE program. Wendi Miller teaches the instructional classroom portion while Wendy Tomaschow runs the business side of the Poudre ACE Sign Shop (P.A.S.S.). Students are able to experience what it is like to be an employee in a functioning business as well as what it looks like to take on greater roles as an entrepreneur.

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

Rocky Mountain High School ACE program.

The Alternative Cooperative Education program at DSC_0356 (2)Rocky Mountain High School is a
constant buzz of students and machines. Their visionary and teacher, Kim Nigro, is in constant motion. She and the Rocky team have built a culture where everyone is welcome and cared for. They are focused on preparing students for the future after high school.

 
DSC_0376Student
work is a mix of classroom instruction/projects and hands on work experience. As with many ACE programs in Poudre School District, the Rocky ACE program seeks to provide students with the opportunity to try out and build on skills in a variety of job trades. Rocky’s entrepreneurial section of the ACE program is called Rock It. Rock It runs a variety of businesses, including a snack shop, merchandise etching, t-shirt printing and gardening in their brand new Geo-Dome.

Poudre School District Director of Integrated Services Sarah Belleau shared, “RMHS is known for the entrepreneurial opportunities that the ACE program provides.  Kim Nigro is creative in establishing small businesses that the students in the ACE programs run.  Kim’s ACE class is full of enthusiastic students who can describe their businesses to anyone who enters.”

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

Welcome to Integrated Services, come on in.

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and someone who believes in them.”      -Magic Johnson


Welcome to the brand new, Integrated Services blog for Poudre School District. Our goal is to share all the wonderful and exciting things going on in Integrated Services.

First of all, what is Integrated Services? Integrated Services is a program in the Poudre School District that provides special education and related services to students, birth through 21, who qualify as having an educational disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).   In Poudre School District, all schools provide services including our charter schools.

Integrated Services also evaluates students in private schools and provides services through a Services Plan if a private school student qualifies.  If a student is home schooled, parents can call to request an evaluation if they have a concern about their child.   Poudre School District offers special education services to preschool age children through the Early Childhood Special Education program and conducts evaluations for students birth to three referred through the Part C/IDEA program.

Integrated Services serves over 3000 students through evaluation and intervention throughout a school year.  Our state required count day is December 1st of each year.  On this day, we have on average between 2300 and 2400 students.

In a nut shell, Integrated Services is a team of dedicated people, working as a team to make great things happen for students.

If you would like more information on how to have your child evaluated please contact Heidi Graber @ hgraber@psdschools.org.

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