A newsletter to support those in York Region who work with students with exceptional learning strengths & needs.
Content of this Newsletter
- Winter Warm-up
- Ignite Technology Grant
- Assistive Technology Robotics Learning
Spotlighting Excellence, Achievement & Community
- Yashas’ Success Story
- Council for Exceptional Children Provincial Awards
- Unionville H.S. Healthy Snacks Initiative
- Learning Disabilities Association of York Region
- Social Skills Program
- SOAR Transitions Elementary
- SOAR Transitions Secondary
- Community Living Central York
- Associate Family Referral Program
Winter Warm-up Event
On December 1, 2022, YRDSB Blind/Low Vision team hosted a night of enjoyment and excitement for students and families called the Winter Warm-up. The event included a talk by Dan Barra-Berger who shared on traveling with a visual impairment. After the talk, students and families played board games including Sorry, Snakes and Ladders, Bingo, Tic Tac Toe and Checkers. These games were made accessible through the use of braille and visual and tactile additions.
“Today was an awesome night. I liked the games and it was nice to see many familiar faces. Everyone who likes games should try these.”
- Arman, Grade 12 Student
Ignite Technology Grant - Deadline Extended to December 19th
The Ignite Technology Grant is an opportunity for students and schools to host an event within their school to bring awareness to the effective and successful use of technology for modern learning. This grant is designed to create leadership opportunities, build communication skills, and increase self-esteem for students with SEA equipment within their school community. There are five awards of $480 available for students and schools to host an event at their school.
There are also three graduation awards of $1000 for Grade 12 students who will be graduating in June 2023. The graduation awards are given to students who use SEA equipment to put towards the purchase of personal technology to assist in their post-secondary goals. Applications close on December 19, 2022.
Assistive Technology Robotics Learning
The Assistive Technology Consultants (ATC) have been working with students and staff in schools and hosting professional learning for the use of robotics in Special Education classrooms. The ATC team has been leading learning on using robotics in student programming to support curriculum expectations and other goals. Some of the robots that are being used include Ozobots, Code & Go Mouse, Cozmo, Bluebots/Beebots, Sphero, Matatalab, Indi, Probot, and Botley. These robots are being used as part of learning across many subject areas and to develop problem solving, social, communication and leadership skills.
Spotlighting Excellence, Achievement & Community
Yashas’ Success Story
Yashas is a grade 5 student at MacLeod's Landing Public School who has been learning how to use a white mobility cane. He has been working with the YRDSB’s Blind/Low Vision team to learn specific orientation and mobility techniques that will provide essential skills for navigating his environment. He recently shared a big reveal to his class in which he demonstrated using the white cane and continues to hold interest in teaching others about it.
Yashas shares his experience below on using a white mobility cane:
“When I started, the easiest technique for using the cane was two point touch (where you tap the floor) rather than diagonal (the cane on a wall in a diagonal position) and then I used constant contact (moving left and right in front of you). At first, when I did constant contact I had to put 110% of my focus on coordinating my feet. I also gave the class a small lesson on using the cane during the big reveal. I went on a few lessons outside with Ms. Kitazaki [YRDSB Blind/Low Vision Coordinator/Orientation & Mobility Specialist]. Overall, using the cane is really fun and it will help me a lot.”
Council for Exceptional Children Provincial Awards
During the first weekend of December, the Ontario Council for Exceptional Children held their annual Special Education Conference: Well-being, Equity and Success for All. At the conference, three YRDSB staff members were recognized provincially and received the following awards:
Paraprofessional of the Year Award
Jennifer Nedanovski, Intervention Support Worker, Barbara Reid Public School
Teacher of the Year Award
Matthew Watts, Rouge Park Public School
Dr. Steven Reid, Former Associate Director of Education - Programs
Congratulations to Jennifer, Matthew and Dr. Steven on receiving these awards from the Ontario Council for Exceptional Children.
Unionville High School Healthy Snacks Initiative
Unionville High School has a morning healthy snack program but recently they heard from students that they are sometimes not hungry in the morning, but “ravenous in the afternoon”! In November, three boxes arrived containing the materials to assemble wagons, which are currently being used to distribute snacks. Students of Room 313 assembled the wagons demonstrating a high level of skill and proficiency.
The class has set days where they work in pairs to organize and prepare food items to be transported around the school. Using the wagons, the students are able to share healthy snacks with their peers ensuring everyone has the fuel for learning. Thank you to these students for getting the snack wagons rolling at Unionville High School!
Learning Disabilities Association of York Region
Social Skills Program
The Social Skills Program supports students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD in developing self-awareness and advocacy and practice social interactions in a controlled environment set up for their success. It is a 6-week long program designed for children ages 6 to 12 diagnosed with LD and/or ADHD and will be held through the winter at the Richmond Hill office. The next Social Skills program starts January 11, 2023. For more information and to register, please contact email@example.com, call 905-884-7933 ext. 2 or register online.
SOAR Transitions Elementary
This program will help Grade 7 – 8 participants identified with Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD to develop life skills to succeed academically and vocationally. Participants will be provided with strategies on: learning preferences, self-advocacy, executive function, as well as understanding their Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.) as it relates to secondary school transitions. The SOAR Mindful Transitions Program equips students with the knowledge they need to succeed in high school and beyond. Sessions will be customized for one-to-one or group settings for 45 minutes for 4 weeks. For more information and to register, please contact Sam Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or (905) 884-7933 ext.6.
SOAR Transitions Secondary
This program will help participants in secondary school identified with Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD to develop life skills to succeed academically and vocationally. Participants will be provided with strategies on: self-advocacy, executive function, employment soft skills and resumes, as well as understanding their Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.) for grade 12 post-secondary transitions (i.e. workplace, apprenticeship, College, University). Information and resources on post-secondary endeavors will be provided with assistance for making academic and career choices. Sessions will be customized for one-to-one or group settings for 45 minutes for 4 weeks. For more information and to register, please contact Sam Harrison at email@example.com or (905) 884-7933 ext.6.
Community Living Central York
Associate Family Referral Program
The Associate Family Program is recruiting Host Respite Families. The Associate Family Program is based on the family home/foster care model and provides community home support to adults who have developmental disabilities. Our Host Respite Families provide support to our Associate Families by hosting respite, one weekend per month, in the Host Respite Family home. For more information or to join the Associate Family Program, please contact:
- Jasmine MacMillan, Outreach Coordinator, 905-898-3000 ext. 517 firstname.lastname@example.org or
- Kate Sisopha, Associate Family Manager, 905-898-3000 ext. 510 email@example.com
Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) Meetings
The SEAC meets on the first Thursday of every month. All are welcome to attend and observe. For more information about SEAC and our SEAC members, please visit the SEAC webpage.
Upcoming SEAC Meetings
- December 8, 2022
- January 12, 2023
- February 2, 2023