Special Education Update  

Special Education Update

One of the most common phrases in education over the last few years is Social Emotional Behavior Learning. We have come to understand just how much support our students need in these areas and how often teachers feel unequipped to provide the support. We have assumed in the past that students received these supports at home and certainly some of them do but it doesn’t hurt to receive more in this area. Kids are under significant pressure these days including everything that comes at them on social media. We need to have extra supports in place for all students and honestly extra, extra supports for some.

We have amazing staff at ESU 10. So much so that even when their plates are full, they still ask to take on more that will benefit schools and students. We are starting to get many things in place in supporting schools and kids in the area of SEBL. Angie Jacoben, Special Education Coordinator and Amy Walters, ESU 10 MTSS Coordinator came to Denise and I to ask if they could co-chair an SEBL committee to get a good handle on all the supports we are offering and make sure that we have a coordinated effort. When good people volunteer to do important work, you get out of their way and let them go for it!

The two of them have put together a committee across departments and have met to start their initial work. They will be helping with a mental health summit this summer to support schools in going through a self-assessment process and help schools determine gaps in what they are providing in Social Emotional Behavioral Learning. These assessments may also help the service unit learn where to go with our support. If we can get a global picture of what we are offering and a global picture of what districts are needing, we can define the gaps and get them filled.

One of the reasons that we can focus on this work is we have been planning for it financially for a few years so we have seed money to get it started and we were ready to roll. Then a very exciting thing happened. The Nebraska Department of Education came to service units and offered money to help get these services started. This allowed us to hire 2.5 licensed mental health providers for this school year and heavily subsidize the cost to our schools who wanted to participate and have LMHPs come to their school districts and provide services to their students onsite. The students who get support through this program need specialized support in addition to what they receive in their general education environment.

Our school psychologists also support SEBL work through both direct services to students as well as consultation and training with teachers, school counselors and administrators. Our school psychologist can support students who need moderate supports as well as students who need significant supports in the area of SEBL. They also can help teams with data collection and goal setting so we know if our supports are working.

We also have additional special education staff and our staff from the Teaching and Learning Department that support classroom teachers in providing universal supports for all students in general education environments so the environment is safe and students are learning new skills which may be related to self- regulation, calming techniques, getting work started right away, getting along with others, etc. We would love to think that all students come to school with these skills solidly in place, but that is not the case. We take kids where they are and help them grow and learn. Doing this in the area of SEBL is a higher priority than it has been in the past but that is what we do, we adjust to the needs of our students and specialize our teaching and supports so they can develop. We appreciate the support we have received from our board and from NDE as we start these new programs. We also appreciate the support of our staff who volunteer for extra work in service to our school districts and students. ESU 10 is an amazing place to be!

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