CNMI Special Education Program Gathers Stakeholder Input

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities

On November 25, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Public School System (PSS), Special Education Program convened its Special Education State Advisory Panel (SESAP), CNMI’s key stakeholder group, comprised of PSS administrators, agency/organization representatives, parent representatives, and individuals with disabilities. Guam CEDDERS June De Leon supported the CNMI Special Education Director during the review of CNMI’s FFY 2018 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Annual Performance Report (APR) indicator performance data and information, including discussion of reasons for “slippage” from last reporting year’s performance, where applicable. In addition, trend data for each APR indicator were reviewed to gather input from SESAP members on proposed indicator targets for FFY 2019, a requirement of the FFY 2018 IDEA Part B APR. SESAP’s stakeholder input for proposed FFY 2019 APR indicator targets was a consensus amongst all members.

On the same day, Ms. De Leon supported the PSS Assessment Coordinator who facilitated an afternoon session with 21 special education teachers and student teachers on the “CNMI Spring 2019 Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) Results & Data Interpretation.” The components of the district, school, and individual student reports were reviewed to increase understanding of the student results from administering the Spring 2019 MSAA. In addition, implications for improving academic instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities was discussed with resources provided to support lesson plan development. Positive feedback from the session indicated that the information shared, especially the student results from the Spring 2019 MSAA administration, was helpful to improve instruction and to be prepared for the Spring 2020 MSAA administration.

On November 25, Guam CEDDERS June De Leon (sitting left front) supported the CNMI Special Education State Advisory Panel (SESAP) members during the review of CNMI’s
FFY 2018 IDEA Part B APR.

GDOE Provides an Online Tool for Students with Reading Barriers

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Guam Department of Education

The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in partnership with Guam CEDDERS held overview sessions on Nov. 25-26 at the GDOE Tiyan main office for Special Education teachers, Division personnel, and parents centered on how to use Bookshare to help students with a print disability have access to reading materials. Bookshare, a Benetech initiative, is an ebook library that contains over 770,000 titles. Bookshare makes reading easier for people with reading barriers such as dyslexia, blindness, and physical disabilities. Bookshare allows users to listen to books being read aloud, to follow along with audio and highlighted text, to read in large type, and to read in Braille. Free membership in Bookshare is available for all qualified U.S. students of any age through funds from the U.S. Department of Education.  The sessions were facilitated by Christine Jones, the Associate Director for U.S. Education for Bookshare/Benetech.

On Nov. 25, Christine Jones (standing), Bookshare/Benetech Associate Director of U.S. Education; assists Untalan Middle School Special Education teachers Beverly Chargualaf (left) and Dolores Bakker (right).
On Nov. 26, representatives from the GDOE Psych program listen to the Bookshare presentation. From L-R: Alma Terbio, Psych Evaluator; Marita Gogue, Psych Evaluator; Diella Rico, Academic Evaluator; and Maria Pia Watson, Psych Evaluator.

Program Completion Quickly Approaching for EPICS Scholars

Continuing Education EPICS Interdisciplinary Pre-Service Preparation

The light at the end of the tunnel is shining brightly for 18 scholars in the Educating Pacific Island Clinicians in Speech Pathology (EPICS) Project as they get closer to earning their graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology from San José State University (SJSU).

Now in the fifth and last year of the project, scholars have a very challenging workload that will only intensify as the final semester approaches. Scholars continue to take online classes and complete their practicum hours to meet course requirements for a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. In addition, scholars will be preparing and taking their program’s comprehensive examination May 2, 2020.  They will also be preparing and taking the PRAXIS for Speech-Language Pathologists shortly after.

In June 2020, the second cohort of scholars will be spending about eight weeks in an externship in San José, California. Graduation will take place on Guam in August.

The EPICS Project is supported by a personnel preparation grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, awarded to SJSU, in partnership with Guam CEDDERS.

Nicole Duenas, CCC-SLP, (Center) supervises EPICS Scholars Megan Merfalen (Left) at Wettengel Elementary and Joseph Mendiola (R) at J. M. Guerrero Elementary School.
Meagan Terlaje, EPICS Scholar (Left), has her Practicum Placement at C.L. Taitano Elementary School, under the supervision of Terry Lujan, CCC-SLP (Right).
Liahlanni Cruz, EPICS Scholar (Left), works with Michelle Camacho, CCC-SLP (Right), at P.C. Lujan Elementary School.
Rowena Dimla, CCC-SLP (Left), provides supervision for Aileen Serrano, EPICS scholar (Right), at Upi Elementary School.
Camille Onglao Gonzales, EPICS Scholar (Left), works with Elizabeth Blas, CCC-SLP (Right), in her Practicum site at the Guam Early Intervention System (GEIS).
Cassandra Dimla, EPICS Scholar (L), earns her practicum hours under the supervision of Erica Sgro, CCC-SLP (R), at Maria Ulloa and Finegayan Elementary Schools.
Bobbie Obillo, EPICS Scholar (Left), is supervised by Melanie Torre, CCC-SLP (Right), at D.L. Perez Elementary School.
Erica Sgro, SLP-CCC (L), supervises Lisa Eclavea, EPICS Scholar (R), at Machananao Elementary School.
Lillian Reyes, EPICS Scholar (Right), is supervised by Bernice Cepeda, CCC-SLP (Left), at Agueda Johnston Middle School.
Melanie Torres, CCC-SLP (Left), supervises Dianne Sapido, EPICS Scholar (Right), at D.L. Perez Elementary and Adacao Elementary School.

2019 AUCD Conference Engages Leaders to Lead Change

AUCD CEDDERS CORE Developmental Disabilities

Over 1,100 people from around the United States and internationally participated in the 2019 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Conference in Washington D.C. from November 17th to November 21st, 2019. The theme, “Leading Change Together,” focused on how people with and without disabilities come together to celebrate the many ways to lead change as an organization that works with diverse communities and people through research, practices, and advocacy that impacts a broad spectrum of disabilities. The extensive pool of resources and knowledge in one setting ignited interesting discussions and generated ideas on how to implement new program services as well as to enhance existing services to better serve individuals with disabilities and their families.

During the conference, AUCD also hosted a meeting with Julie Hocker, Administration on Disabilities Commissioner, who provided insights on the administration’s initiatives: increasing life expectancy of individuals with disabilities, health education, healthcare, and post-secondary transition services.

The AUCD is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs. Network members consist of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) receiving core funding from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD); 43 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Programs receiving core funding from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB); 15 Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Centers (IDDRC), receiving core funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD). These programs serve and are located in every U.S. state and territory and are all part of universities or medical centers. They serve as a bridge between the university and the community, bringing together the resources of both to achieve meaningful change.

On November 21, AUCD facilitated a US Territories University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in Education, Research, & Service (UCEDD) Directors’ meeting that was attended by UCEDD Directors and Staff Members from Guam,
Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the US Virgin Islands. Pictured from the front row (LR) Carol Pagan, Puerto Rico UCEDD Director; Jennifer Castro, Saipan UCEDD Director; Kimberly Mills, Virgin Islands UCEDD Director; Pamela Sablan, Saipan Developmental Disabilities Center Director. Second row (L-R) Michelle Aguigui, Guam CEDDERS Associate Director; Shamika Thomas, Virgin Islands UCEDD Program Coordinator; Dawn Rudolph, AUCD Senior Director of Technical Assistance & Network Engagement; June DeLeon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; Tafa Tua-Tupuola, American Samoa UCEDD Director.
On November 20, AUCD hosted a UCEDD Director’s meeting with ACL Commissioner Julie Hocker. US Territories’ UCEDD Directors are pictured with the ACL Commissioner. (L-R) June DeLeon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; Jennifer Castro, Saipan UCEDD Director; Julie Hocker, ACL Commissioner; and Tafa Tua-Tupuola, American Samoa UCEDD Director.

Guam Congressman Meets with Guam CEDDERS Leaders

AUCD CEDDERS CORE Developmental Disabilities

The “Hafa Adai spirit” and gracious welcome from Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas and his wife, Mrs. Kathy San Nicolas, could be felt in our nation’s capital as CEDDERS Interim Director June De Leon and CEDDERS Associate Director Michelle Aguigui visited the Congressman in his office in Washington D.C. during the AUCD Hill visits on November 21th. Surrounded by the classical ambiance of the “Tunnel Restaurant,” the afternoon was filled with networking and educating our Congressman on topics that were discussed during the 2019 AUCD Annual Conference, such as increasing life expectancy of individuals with disabilities, improving healthcare, and post-secondary education transition services. The Congressman also shared the various initiatives that he is working on to increase services for individuals with disabilities residing on Guam.

On November 21, CEDDERS visits Capitol Hill. (L-R): Michelle Aguigui, Guam CEDDERS Associate Director; Kathy San Nicolas, wife of Congressman; June De Leon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; and Michael San Nicolas, Guam Congressman.

GDOE Provides School-Level Support for Assessments

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Disability Studies Early Childhood Guam Department of Education

On November 18, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE), in partnership with Guam CEDDERS, provided school-level support to aimswebPlus trainers at Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School. The training session included 10 school-level trainers and centered on how to generate data reports using the new aimswebPlus portal. AimswebPlus is the universal screener used by the GDOE to identify students who may be at-risk in reading and math. School-level trainers will use the skills gained in the session to assist their colleagues at each grade-level in generating reports. Teachers will use the data in the reports to adapt instruction and interventions in order to meet the unique needs of students in their class. The training session was facilitated by Guam CEDDERS Training Associate Josephine Cruz, and consultants Nieves Flores and June Quitugua.

Guam CEDDERS Training Associate Josephine Cruz (pointing to the laptop screen) assisted teachers in generating data reports. L-R: Lalaine Ocampo, 4th grade teacher; Josephine Cruz; Michelle DeGuzman, 1st grade teacher; and Kasaundra Penaflor, Kindergarten teacher.
Guam CEDDERS consultant Nieves Flores (standing) answered questions for teachers at Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School. Seated L-R: Joe Fernandez, 3rd grade teacher;
Mi’ami Hayes, 2nd grade teacher; Aurelia Perez, 5th grade teacher; and Marianne Gutierrez, 5th grade teacher. (Not pictured: June Quitugua,Guam CEDDERS consultant)

ROP Works on Improving Services for Students with Visual Impairments

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education

Through funding from the Republic of Palau (ROP) Special Education Program, Guam CEDDERS June De Leon and consultant Donna McNear conducted a two-day technical assistance visit to Pelelui Elementary in ROP on November 5 and 6. The visit supported ROP in its efforts to improve programs and services for students with visual impairments. The visit included classroom observations and training for school personnel and parents on community supports for improving educational services for students with visual impairments. The visit also included individual meetings with the parents, teachers, and principal of the students with visual impairments enrolled at Pelelui Elementary. The meetings were an opportunity to learn from the parents about priorities for their children and how the school can support their priorities.

On November 5, Guam CEDDERS consultant Donna McNear (standing) expressed the importance of collaboration for improving programs and services at Pelelui Elementary school.