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September 2018

Message from the Special Services Director – Dr. Shannon Hitch

Welcome to the 2018-19 school year!  

For the past few weeks, staff have been busy learning and preparing for the upcoming year.  Highlights include training on our new reading intervention program SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words) and our new early childhood curriculum (Creative Curriculum). Staff have participated in sessions focused on equity and culturally responsive teaching. Additional curriculum trainings include FLASH for students in Special Education and SCERTS, a program developed to support students on the autism spectrum and others who struggle with social communication and emotional regulation. A huge thank you to all of those who worked hard to provide these trainings and to all who participated. 

This month, I’m excited to welcome our new and returning teachers, nurses, para-educators and therapists.There is something special about the excitement that starts to build as staff are getting ready for the first day of school. For me, a new year doesn’t begin in January. The first day of school is my touchstone. There is nothing like the smell of a new box of crayons or hearing the rumble of the school bus coming up your hill. We are so excited to welcome your students and we expect to have an amazing year.

I know the start of school can be a wonderful time for some students and a stressful time for others. As the school year begins, it is a great time to establish routines and structures that will reduce your child’s anxiety and help them be successful at school. Students often find comfort in knowing what is expected with visual or written schedules. Set aside a time and place for homework. Make connections with your child’s teacher - share information about any changes over the summer and let them know ways to connect with your child. Establish positive rewards at home for a student’s progress in academics or behavior at school. If you can, participate in Open Houses and Back to School Nights Our students will benefit from having a united team behind them.

As the school year gets underway, one of my goals is to visit each of our district schools. My hope is to spend time in classrooms to meet both students and staff. With this in mind, I would like to invite you to follow my twitter account @DrShannonHitch. I will be posting updates on our work within Special Services, my school visits and sharing out resources and information you might find helpful.  

Welcome Back to School!

Resources for Parents of Students with Disabilities

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to take a look at the Special Needs Resource Flier, created by the Lake Washington PTSA (LWPTSA) Council Special Needs Group/Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) and the Special Services Department, available here. You can also pick up a hard copy at your child’s school, and/or from your child’s 504 or Special Education Case Manager at your annual review meeting.

A Message from The Arc of King County - For families who use AAC to communicate or are considering AAC:

The Arc is hosting a special Open House on September 15 to help the disability community learn about and access Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems. Our All About AAC event will be held at the Children’s Therapy Center in Burien from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and will be an incredibly informative 3-hour session for parents and families who are new to AAC. 

Topics include:

  •  AAC 101 – What is it, who uses it, how does it work?
  • Funding sources to obtain AAC devices and software
  • AAC in schools – IEPs, SLPs, Classroom use and more
  • Q&A with an AAC user 
  • Communication Partner Strategies – How can I help my AAC user
  • A sample Smooth Talkers Session 

This is totally free, and childcare is available!  

The Arc of King County: IEP Parent Partner Program – Accepting Applications Now!
Do you have experience navigating the special education system? Either as a parent, educator, interpreter or student? Would you like to support other families navigating the Special Education system? If so, we’ve got a great program for you!  

The Arc of King County’s IEP Parent Partner Program trains volunteers to provide support to other families navigating the system. They are offering a 15-hour volunteer training this fall. In this training, you will learn about Special Education laws, using assessments and evaluations for data-informed decision making, navigating complex situations such as behavior supports, and communication and conflict resolution skills. Trained volunteers commit to providing one-on-one support to at least one family over the course of the school year. Volunteers do not provide legal advice and are not professional advocates. Rather, they help families understand their education documentation, develop strategies for family advocacy and provide emotional support at 1-2 school meetings.
The volunteer training is free! Previous volunteers report they learned skills to better support their own child within the Special Education system, as well as felt empowered to support other families.
We are offering this training in English and in Spanish. 
The application is available online and via paper. Click here for access to the IEP Parent Partner Job Description and to get your application started.
Contact Rachel Nemhauser ( or Patricia Gonzalez ( for questions or to request an application. 
Washington State Fragile X & Down Syndrome Conference 2018
Learn about behaviors and helpful interventions for children and adults living with Fragile X and Down syndrome!

NFXF Washington State Chapter and South Sound Up with Downs can't keep quiet about this amazing opportunity to hear Dr. Riley present on topics relating to Fragile X and Down Syndrome from her field of expertise in child psychology and developmental disabilities.

What: Fragile X Down Syndrome Conference
Date: October 27, 2018
Time: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Capital Event Center – ESD 113
                  6005 Tyee DR SW
                  Tumwater, WA 98512
Keynote Speaker: Karen Ripley
Event Flyer: View the flyer
Link to Register: Register Here! 
Featured Article!
This past summer, a 15-year old girl traveling with her mother aboard an Alaska Airlines flight made quite the impression on passengers and crew members when she stepped up to help a fellow passenger, who was deaf and blind, communicate by means of ASL. To read the whole story and see the video, click here.
PTSA SNG Meetings and Child Care Support
Our monthly PTSA SNG meeting (see schedule below) is a great time to network with other parents, learn more about resources in our community and learn more about strategies and supports for students with disabilities. We offer student care during these meetings, to assist you in being able to access this wonderful opportunity to meet with parents. Please RSVP each month, by emailing For our October meeting, please RSVP by/before October 9th. In your email, please include the age of your child, so we can ensure we have enough staff to cover all the students. The Special Services Director and Associate Directors participate in a meet and greet before each meeting at 6:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you all there.
Upcoming LWPTSA Council Special Needs Group Meetings:
Date: 10/16/2018
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Location: LWSD Resource Center – Board Room (1st Floor)
                 16250 NE 74th St
                 Redmond, WA 98052
Topic: Join the LWPTSA SNG and the Special Services Department as we kick off the beginning of the 2018-19 school year! The Special Services Department will be presenting updates and exciting work that will be continued into the school year. You won’t want to miss it!
Save the Date: Mark your calendar for the 2018-19 PTSA Special Needs Group Meetings:
  • 10/16/2018
  •  11/20/2018
  •  No Meeting in December
  •  1/15/2019
  •  2/26/2019
  •  3/19/2019
  •  4/16/2019
  •  5/21/2019
  •  No Meeting in June