The Guam System for Assistive Technology delivered a presentation to residents at the Talofofo GHURA Elderly Housing. Services and various Assistive Technology devices were demonstrated during the presentation. Alina Butler, Service Coordinator at the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) Program invited GSAT to provide awareness of Assistive Technology for residents in the housing units. In addition to Talofofo’s GHURA housing, presentations were also conducted in Dededo, and upper Agat. GSAT is scheduled to do another presentation at the Merizo GHURA housing on March 18 and Lower Agat Housing on March 25.
The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) and Guam CEDDERS continue their work with consultant, Dr. Laurie Vismara. Dr. Vismara has continued to provide training to Guam Early Intervention System (GEIS) providers on the implementation of the Parent-based Early Start Denver Model (P-ESDM) framework. P-ESDM is an approach which focuses on coaching parents and caregivers to develop their skills and strategies in using the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). The January and February sessions with Dr. Vismara focused on developing the coaching skills of GEIS providers in supporting parents in increasing their child’s communication. This process includes helping parents increase their use and understanding of children’s “talking bodies”. The training also included helping providers problem-solve their potential needs or barriers to support families increase their child’s communication. Follow-up sessions were facilitated by on-island consultant Elaine Eclavea and Guam CEDDERS Josephine Cruz to support GEIS providers as they applied the P-ESDM strategies in their coaching practices.
On January 21, a P-ESDM follow-up session was conducted with GEIS providers. Top row, L-R: Sangi Susuico, GEIS, GDOE; Josephine Cruz, Associate Director, Guam CEDDERS; Grace Loyola, GEIS; Middle row, L-R: Sherry Cruz, GEIS, GDOE; Rita-Rose Hualde, GEIS, GDOE; Gajee Parsons, GEIS, GDOE; Bottom row, L-R: Elaine Eclavea, Guam CEDDERS consultant; Liz Blas, GEIS Speech and Language Pathologist.
On June 1, Cathy Tydingco, GEIS Coordinator, met with Guam CEDDERS personnel, June De Leon, Marie Wusstig, and Michelle Aguigui, to provide an overview of its current staffing challenges and update the status of GDOE Audiology’s office relocation and staffing the audiology unit. The discussion focused on options for outpatient hearing screening to resume for infants born at Guam Memorial Hospital Authority (GMHA) who did not pass the initial hearing screening. One option offered by Guam CEDDERS was the use of Guam CEDDERS House 30 located at the University of Guam Dean Circle for the location of the Outpatient Hearing Screening Clinics. As a result of this meeting, the GEIS Coordinator connected with the GDOE Audiologist, David Zieber, and presented the options discussed. In collaboration with GDOE Audiology, GEIS, and Guam EHDI project resumed outpatient hearing rescreen appointments for infants born at GMHA on June 18.
In preparation for the June 18th Outpatient Hearing Rescreen Clinic, Guam EHDI staff met with the GEIS coordinator and GDOE Audiologist and staff to do a walkthrough of House 30, review the COVID 19 Safety Protocols for families and staff, and to further discuss how each program would provide support to resume the Outpatient Hearing Rescreen Clinics at House 30. Guam EHDI Director Michelle Aguigui offered additional days per week to screen children at House 30. As a result of this offer, GEIS/GDOE Audiology will screen children two days a week, beginning June 24. The Hearing Screening Clinic dates will run every Thursday and Friday, starting on June 18 and ending with the last clinic on July 30.
Parents can contact GEIS at 300-5776 or Guam EHDI at 735-2466 to determine if their child needs additional testing or follow-up services.
On June 18, the Guam Department of Education Audiology Department resumed the Outpatient Hearing Screening Clinic for infants from Guam Memorial Hospital Authority at the University of Guam, Dean’s Circle House 30. The clinic was staffed by Guam Early Intervention System (GEIS) staff, GDOE Audiology staff with support from the Guam EHDI staff. Ron Nochefranca, GDOE Audiometirst, conducts an Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) to screen the infant. L – R: Ron Nochefranca, GDOE Audiometrist; Jacquelyn Hall, mother; Duncan Hall, infant.
Not Shown: David Zeiber, GDOE Audiologist; R-Leen Mario, GEIS Service Coordinator
American Samoa Department of Education, Special Education Division joined the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam as a state partner of the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) consortium to improve the development and implementation of the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) required for students with significant cognitive disabilities based on their Individualized Education Program.
In support of American Samoa’s MSAA implementation, Guam CEDDERS June De Leon facilitated six 2-hour virtual sessions from January through May with American Samoa specialists and special education teachers in preparation for the Spring 2021 MSAA on-line alternate assessment administration from March 15-May 14. Preparation activities included addressing the academic instructional needs of students with significant cognitive disabilities and the requirements for administering the MSAA on-line alternate assessment. The virtual sessions also included Guam special education teachers familiar with administering the MSAA online test, which provided practical insights in preparation for and during the administration.
Congratulations to American Samoa for administering the Spring 2021 MSAA test with 100% participation of students with significant cognitive disabilities requiring an AA-AAS in the tested grades!
The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in partnership with Guam CEDDERS coordinated consultations with Dr. David Bateman centered on addressing concerns related to compliance monitoring. Dr. Bateman is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Special Education at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses about learning disabilities, special education, and special education law. He has authored and co-authored several books on Special Education and works with school districts that have been recently involved in litigation to help them successfully move forward.
From January to April, GDOE held monthly collaborative meetings with Dr. Bateman and the GDOE Special Education Division leadership and the GDOE Compliance Monitors. The meetings centered on two main areas: the Individualized Education Program (IEP) forms and the pre-referral process. Dr. Bateman provided GDOE with a written summary of his feedback related to the areas of concern. The collaborative meetings allowed for open discussion related to the feedback and for the planning of next steps to improve procedures.
On April 31, GDOE held a collaborative meeting between the Special Education Division the Compliance Monitors, and Dr. Bateman. Top row, L-R: Marie Babauta, Compliance Monitor, GDOE; June De Leon, Interim Director, Guam CEDDERS; Lillian Reyes, Compliance Monitor, GDOE; Middle row, L-R: Neil Rochelle, School Program Consultant, GDOE; Terese Crisostomo, School Program Consultant, GDOE; Josephine Cruz, Associate Director, Guam CEDDERS; Bottom row, L-R: Laura Taisipic, School Program Consultant, GDOE; Dr. David Bateman, consultant, Guam CEDDERS; and Cathy Tydingco, School Program Consultant, GDOE.
This year the GSAT CONFERENCE is going VIRTUAL and WE WANT YOU TO BE THERE!
The Guam System for Assistive Technology (GSAT) is a program under the Guam Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (CEDDERS), and it is our mission to help individuals with disabilities meet their Assistive Technology needs and increase their quality of life. This year’s theme is “Creating Opportunities in a Changing World.” The heightened health concerns brought about by the current pandemic has changed the way we approach life. Achieving accessibility and staying connected to be more inclusive in employment, school and community is needed in this digital age.
Assistive technology can also be inexpensive. There are low tech tech solutions for a variety of needs. This year we are honored to have two astounding speakers that will be presenting during the conference.
Creating Assistive Technology Devices at Home During COVID 19
November 6, 2020 , 10:30AM – 12:00PM CHst
Presenter: Therese Willkomm, Ph.D. , ATP
Therese Willkomm is currently the Director of the New Hampshire Statewide Assistive Technology Program (ATinNH) with the Institute on Disability and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. In addition, Dr. Willkomm is the coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology Program and the coordinator of the Disability Studies Minor. She has been engaged in providing/managing assistive technology services for over 28 years in the areas of home, school, and worksite modifications for persons with disabilities. She is known nationally and internationally as “The MacGyver of Assistive Technology” and for her work in rural rehabilitation technology. Dr. Willkomm has presented in 38 states, five foreign countries, and three U.S. territories and authored 22 publications including her most recent book titled “Make A Difference Today – Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes.”
Four Decades of Exploration in Assistive Technology: From Toys to Term Papers
November 13, 2020 , 10:30AM – 12:00PM CHst
Presenter: Neil Rochelle
Neil Rochelle is a loving father of two children and dedicated educator of 38 years. Mr. Rochelle, has over a decade of experience as classroom teacher and special education consultant. He had a long career in school administration and was a former School Superintendent in New York State.
Determined to seek new adventures and make a significant difference in the lives of children led him to relocate to the territory of Guam in 2010. He is revitalized by the lifestyle, culture, traditions and people in Pacific-Asia. Mr. Rochelle is currently serving as a project lead at Guam Department of Education implementing a U.S. Department of Education Consolidated Grant project where he brings tools, equipment and professional learning in the use and integration of technology for teaching and learning teachers, administrators and students. He is falling back to his roots in special education services, administration and oversees Assistive Technology.
This conference is intended for individuals with disabilities, family members/caregivers, employers, senior living providers, students, therapists, educators, and local/non-profit organizations providing supports to individuals with disabilities
**American Sign Language and Closed Captioning will be provided.
Please request accommodations two (2) weeks in advance.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States and Guam, so many planned events, sometimes events planned years in advance, had to be canceled or postponed and sometimes re-configured. This was the case with the postponement of the much-anticipated seven-week Externship that was supposed to happen beginning in early June for the nine scholars in Group 2 of the Educating Pacific Island Clinicians in Speech Pathology (EPICS) Project. Closure of placement sites due to upticks in people testing positive for the virus was a harsh and frustrating reality, but a necessary one for the health and safety of all involved. For the EPICS scholars, some of whom had persevered for up to five years taking graduate courses while managing work and family obligations, the externship and program completion setback was a big, major disappointment.
After considering as many options as possible to address the situation, Group 2 scholars were given two choices: complete externship in Guam during Fall 2020 or wait till Summer 2021. The scholars decided on what worked best for them and so new plans were set in May. But then a third opportunity developed in mid-June: placement at the Los Angeles Speech and Language Center, Inc. (LASLC, Inc.), in Culver City, California starting in July. For a range of reasons, this option was initially declined by all nine eligible scholars. But then one scholar decided to take the leap and opted to pursue this an exciting opportunity.
Meagan Terlaje figured she could make it work for her. Long story short, it took much coordination and legwork (and yes, luck!) to pull this all together in a very short period of time. Through the efforts of the EPICS Leadership team, Dr. Wendy Quach, SJSU EPICS Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Gloria Weddington, SJSU Professor Emerita and EPICS Program Coordinator and Catherine Yuen Ying Lam, SJSU Grant Assistant, along with the extreme generosity of Dr. Pam Wiley, Owner of LASLC, Inc., and support from Jon Fernandez, Superintendent of the Guam Department of Education, where Meagan works as a fifth-grade teacher, the placement were secured.
And so after traveling for about 16 hours including a layover in Honolulu, Meagan arrived in Los Angeles at about 5 am July 19, and started her externship the very next day. Meagan’s last day at the clinic was on September 4th, and she couldn’t be happier with how the experience worked out for her. She shared that, “this wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, but it was definitely worth it. Everyone was so kind and welcoming despite this unique and stressful situation. I’ve learned so much! I’m thankful for Dr. Wiley and for the opportunity she’s given me with this experience.
Meagan Terlaje, EPICS scholar, left, is shown with Alaa Elogbi, CCC-SLP, her externship supervisor, practicing social distancing, one of the requirements under the COVID-19 safety protocol.
On August 4, 11, and 12, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE), in a collaborative effort with Guam CEDDERS, provided support to the GDOE State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) teachers with a webinar conducted by the Learning A-Z, Director for International Academics and Curriculum, Jennifer Nigh. The first session on August 4, was for teacher coordinators and subsequent webinars were held on August 11 and 12 for all teachers. On August 11, the session was for M.U. Lujan and Juan M. Guerrero Elementary school teachers and the August 12 session was for Chief Brodie and Price Elementary school teachers. A total of more than 100 teachers attended over the scheduled three-day period.
Learning A-Z’s leveled reading program, RAZ-Plus, was procured as a supplemental resource to improve reading proficiency. Research conducted by McREL on RAZ-Plus showed a strong correlation between reading achievement and motivation to read. During the hour-long webinars, Ms. Nigh presented SSIP teachers with an overview, highlighting various features, as well as, demonstrating what access to the platform by teachers, students, and families would look like. There is a need for the continuous strengthening of relationships between home and school—most especially during this time of social distancing. The RAZ-Plus home-school connection feature acts as a conduit in maintaining communication. Specifically, RAZ-Plus builds that family connection using their online platform, in addition to, shared printed resources, and other shared types of family communication.
In these unprecedented times, it is imperative to implement a literacy program that integrates seamlessly with GDOE’s three models of instruction: face-to-face, home packet, and distance online learning. RAZ-Plus resources are fully accessible in multiple types of formats: mobile, online, printable, and projectable learning. The home packet (hard copy) and online distance models are also supported through printable and downloadable leveled readers, as well as, uploading these resources into GDOE’s online Google Classroom platform.
Throughout the interactive presentations, teachers provided continuous feedback. Attendees also noted their enthusiasm and excitement in the opportunity to utilize the RAZ-Plus literacy tools with their students. Moving forward, GDOE plans to continue to provide additional support to all teachers with webinars, small group training, and other technical assistance for all SSIP schools.
Despite the challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guam Department of Education’s (GDOE) State Systemic Improvement Project (SSIP) in partnership with Guam CEDDERS continues to provide technical assistance and support to the target schools in the area of reading achievement and evidence-based practices. On August 5, an SSIP core team meeting was held to plan the next steps for the new school year. Activities for the new school year include assisting schools in using the district’s universal screener amid a virtual context to collect baseline and progress monitoring data; using evidence-based practices such as explicit instruction; using data to drive improvement models, and scaling up to include math content. The challenge for the upcoming school year is centered on meeting the needs of students through remote learning. However, despite the unprecedented challenges the new school year brings, the SSIP core team is equipped with grit and perseverance to meet the challenges. The SSIP core team is comprised of the following four SSIP principals and an assistant principal: Rose Castro from J.M. Guerrero Elementary, Darlene Castro from Chief Brodie Memorial Elementary, Natasha Dela Cruz from M.U. Lujan Elementary, Elias Tasipic from Price Elementary, and Denise Tiamanglo, an assistant principal from Price Elementary. Other team members include Terese Crisostomo, from GDOE Special Education Division, Joshua Blas, GDOE SSIP Project Director, and Guam CEDDERS consultants Nieves Flores and June Quitugua, and Guam CEDDERS staff June De Leon, Josephine Cruz, and Debra Whitt.
The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in partnership with Guam CEDDERS supported training in parent coaching practices of the Parent-Early Start Denver Model (P-ESDM). The training provided support to Guam Early Intervention Systems (GEIS) providers in evidence-based, family-centered planning and coaching of naturalistic, developmental interactive strategies for accelerated learning in children with or at-risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for ages birth to three years old. Four virtual training workshops were held in the months of July through September. The training sessions were conducted by Dr. Laurie Vismara, a co-author of “An Early Start for Your Child with Autism”, a guide that provides doable, practical strategies for early intervention providers and families to use every day with their child with ASD. Dr. Vismara is also a researcher and licensed therapist who has spent her career working closely with families of children with ASD and contributing to the science and program development of the P-ESDM. The overarching goal of the training sessions was to provide GEIS service providers with the tools and strategies to support parents and families to help their child have enriched learning opportunities at home.