What’s New in the World of EC?
UPDATES for May 2 - 6
I want to recognize everyone for all of their hard work and dedication to students with disabilities. Special education is not for the faint of heart, and I have tremendous respect and appreciation for what you do day in and day out. Also I hope everyone had a restful Easter and Spring Break and you are ready for the final leg of this school year!
An Open Letter From Arne Duncan to America's Teachers
In Honor of Teacher Appreciation Week
By Arne Duncan
I have worked in education for much of my life. I have met with thousands of teachers in great schools and struggling schools, in big cities and small towns, and I have a deep and genuine appreciation for the work you do. I know that most teachers did not enter the profession for the money. You became teachers to make a difference in the lives of children, and for the hard work you do each day, you deserve to be respected, valued, and supported.
I consider teaching an honorable and important profession, and it is my goal to see that you are treated with the dignity we award to other professionals in society. In too many communities, the profession has been devalued. Many of the teachers I have met object to the imposition of curriculum that reduces teaching to little more than a paint-by-numbers exercise. I agree.
Inside your classroom, you exercise a high degree of autonomy. You decide when to slow down to make sure all of your students fully understand a concept, or when a different instructional strategy is needed to meet the needs of a few who are struggling to keep up. You build relationships with students from a variety of backgrounds and with a diverse array of needs, and you find ways to motivate and engage them. I appreciate the challenge and skill involved in the work you do and applaud those of you who have dedicated your lives to teaching.
Many of you have told me you are willing to be held accountable for outcomes over which you have some control, but you also want school leaders held accountable for creating a positive and supportive learning environment. You want real feedback in a professional setting rather than drive-by visits from principals or a single score on a bubble test. And you want the time and opportunity to work with your colleagues and strengthen your craft.
You have told me you believe that the No Child Left Behind Act has prompted some schools—especially low-performing ones—to teach to the test, rather than focus on the educational needs of students. Because of the pressure to boost test scores, NCLB has narrowed the curriculum, and important subjects like history, science, the arts, foreign languages, and physical education have been de-emphasized. And you are frustrated when teachers alone are blamed for educational failures that have roots in broken families, unsafe communities, misguided reforms, and underfunded schools systems. You rightfully believe that responsibility for educational quality should be shared by administrators, community, parents, and even students themselves.
The teachers I have met are not afraid of hard work, and few jobs today are harder. Moreover, it’s gotten harder in recent years; the challenges kids bring into the classroom are greater and the expectations are higher. Not too long ago, it was acceptable for schools to have high dropout rates, and not all kids were expected to be proficient in every subject. In today’s economy, there is no acceptable dropout rate, and we rightly expect all children—English-language learners, students with disabilities, and children of poverty—to learn and succeed.
You and I are here to help America’s children. We understand that the surest way to do that is to make sure that the 3.2 million teachers in America’s classrooms are the very best they can be. The quality of our education system can only be as good as the quality of our teaching force.
So I want to work with you to change and improve federal law, to invest in teachers and strengthen the teaching profession. Together with you, I want to develop a system of evaluation that draws on meaningful observations and input from your peers, as well as a sophisticated assessment that measures individual student growth, creativity, and critical thinking. States, with the help of teachers, are now developing better assessments so you will have useful information to guide instruction and show the positive impact you are having on our children.
Working together, we can transform teaching from the factory model designed over a century ago to one built for the information age. We can build an accountability system based on data we trust and a standard that is honest—one that recognizes and rewards great teaching, gives new or struggling teachers the support they need to succeed, and deals fairly, efficiently, and compassionately with teachers who are simply not up to the job. With your input and leadership, we can restore the status of the teaching profession so more of America’s top college students choose to teach because no other job is more important or more fulfilling.
In the next decade, half of America’s teachers are likely to retire. What we do to recruit, train, and retain our new teachers will shape public education in this country for a generation. At the same time, how we recognize, honor, and show respect for our experienced educators will reaffirm teaching as a profession of nation builders and social leaders dedicated to our highest ideals. As that work proceeds, I want you to know that I hear you, I value you, and I respect you.
Arne Duncan is the U.S. secretary of education.
College program builds skills, self-esteem for learning disabled students
Credit: JENNIFER ROTENIZER/JOURNAL
From left, DeMario Chandler, Rebecca Clinard, Jason Davenport, Jeremy Donohue, William Gadsden, and Raeshika McLean are the first graduates of the Beyond Academics program at UNC-Greensboro.
From left, DeMario Chandler, Rebecca Clinard, Jason Davenport, Jeremy Donohue, William Gadsden, and Raeshika McLean are the first graduates of the Beyond Academics program at UNC-Greensboro. Credit: JENNIFER ROTENIZER/JOURNAL
Terri Shelton, UNCG vice chancellor of research and economic development, reacts after receiving a gift from the Beyond Academics students. Credit: JENNIFER ROTENIZER/JOURNAL
By PAUL GARBER | Winston-Salem Journal
Published: May 03, 2011
They lined up with proud smiles, wearing caps and gowns, preparing to walk across the stage just as countless other college graduates will do this month.
But this class of six people at UNC Greensboro was different. They have intellectual disabilities including autism and Down syndrome that would have prevented them from enrolling in college had it not been for a program designed to teach them how to live independently while living side by side with typical college students.
It's called Beyond Academics, and these six are the program's first graduates and the first in the state to earn such a four-year certificate. They received their certificates Monday in a special ceremony in the auditorium of the Elliott University Center on the campus of UNCG.
The graduates are DeMario Chandler, Rebecca Clinard, Jason Davenport, Jeremy Donohue, William Gadsden and Raeshika McLean. The Winston-Salem Journal profiled the students as they entered their freshman year in 2007. They are all from Forsyth County.
"Beyond Academics has helped me get my independence and get my own apartment, and I love it," said Clinard, who is autistic.
Her father, Jack Clinard, said he never thought he'd see his daughter graduate from a college program.
"It's about the best thing that's ever happened to her," he said. "It has made her feel like she is somebody."
There were 30 students enrolled this year, and enrollment will grow to 40 next year, said Joan Johnson, executive director of Beyond Academics. The cost is covered by a variety of public and private money.
"UNCG has embraced the idea that learning can be for everybody," she said.
The curriculum for the certificate is broad. It covers such topics as how to navigate the community, including using a bus schedule; nutrition management; career opportunities; and independent living skills.
Students are interested in getting jobs in such fields as youth sports, catering and retail.
And, as in all colleges, not all students succeed. Students are graded in their classes, and two of the original eight freshmen did not meet the criteria for graduation, Johnson said.
Beyond Academics students go through a different application process than typical UNCG students go through, but once enrolled they have access to everything available to other students, said Terri Shelton, vice chancellor of research and economic development at the university.
She said the program is consistent with the university's mission of building an inclusive community.
"One of the best ways to counteract stereotypes is for (typical) students to see these students on campus, and to see their possibilities," she said.
Beyond Academics was modeled on a program started in the mid-1990s at Taft College in California. The director of that program visited UNCG in the early days of Beyond Academics to help organizers set up the program here.
Michael Mayer, a disability advocate and senior partner at the Community Resource Alliance in Mebane, told the graduates that they are pioneers.
"You have broken the stereotype of what it means to have an intellectual disability," he said.
For details, visit the program's website at
In honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month – Debbie Larner will be providing an inservice at Troutman Elementary on “The Noisy Classroom-How to create a listening-friendly classroom”
Also, Kathy Richard’s will be offering the staff at Celeste free hearing screenings during the month of May with doughnuts provided on May 12th!
Deb Barlaan developed a multiple choice fun facts questionnaire regarding Speech-Language for teachers to complete at Scotts and Sharon – Winners get “Chocolate”!!
Christina Irby and Jenny Greenblatt were each nominated for Third Creek’s Teacher of the Year. Good luck to each of them!
For going above and beyond to Dawn Ciletti at Troutman Middle for her dedication to a new out of state student. Dawn has personally taken him under her wing to ensure he has a smooth transition to his new school. She touches base with him throughout the day and really made a difference in his transition!
To Amanda McCann at North High for her efficiency and accuracy on May IEP’s!
To Sherry Combs and Joyce Hobbs at Statesville High and Danielle Dixon at West High for creating excellent transition plans for 2011-2012 IEP’s!
Keep up all the great work!