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Our spotlight this week is on kindness! Tomorrow February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Even the smallest act of kindness can have a huge impact! When you are kind to others it not only changes you but it changes the world. Choose to Be Kind

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SMEC is seeking parent participation in our Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). This committee meets four times a year and is a great opportunity for parents of students with special needs to provide input on our programs throughout our seven district consortium. The purpose of the committee is:
-To advocate for high quality educational programs for all learners.
-To support Southern Minnesota Education Consortium's Special Education mission statemen...t which is to discover, develop and achieve our student’s maximum potential within our local districts and communities.
-To increase the involvement and add the informed perspective of parents and families of children with disabilities in the making and implementation of district policies.

If you are interested on being a part of our SEAC committee or have questions please feel free to call the SMEC office at (507) 857-1160.

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Time for our weekly spotlight! With people learning more about SMEC and as Dan presents at district board meetings we find a lot of common questions that deal with the different levels of special education students. We created a document for board members and the public to help them better understand the different levels of students. In summary, our level 1 and level 2 students are those students in with our district's resource room teachers and our level 3 students are those students in specific programming to better meet their needs throughout the districts. Level 4 students require a separate facility that SMEC does not currently have but we are working towards a building that would house a level 4 program and our ALC. If you have any questions please feel free to send us a message! Happy Friday!

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Time for the Friday spotlight and it's on our new office location! After making an east and a west Next Step Program in Alden and Kingsland it left our Next Step Southland building open. It made perfect sense for us to make it our new home - So here we are!

*Meeting Notice* Our special education director Dan Armagost and our coordinator Denise Kennedy will be at the special board meeting tonight for Leroy-Ostrander Public Schools to discuss SMEC facilities. The meeting will be held in Leroy at the school and will begin at 5:30pm.

A very special 'THANK YOU!' to all the paraprofessionals who work throughout the consortium in our member districts. Everything you do for our student's is truly amazing and we are lucky to have each of you!

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Minnesota Department of Education

It's Paraprofessional Recognition Week! Thank you to the more than 20,000 paraprofessionals in Minnesota that make a difference in students' lives every day. Be... sure to thank the paraprofessionals in your school this week. Get a list of ideas, plus recognition certificates, on our website: http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/dse/Para/index.htm

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Friday spotlight! Today we are featuring our special education staff from our member district of Alden-Conger.

Alden-Conger is located on the eastern side of the cooperative. Their staff consists of one early childhood special education teacher, two elementary special education teachers, one middle school special education teacher, two high school special education teachers, six paraprofessionals to assist in the classrooms, and a full time social worker. They also have a sp...eech clinician within their building.

Alden-Conger also houses two SMEC programs including the First Step Program and the Next S.T.E.P. Alden Program.

This team is amazing and their immense dedication shows through in their students. Thank you team for all you do!!

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A great collaboration took place today in the CARDS program in the Leroy-Ostrander Public School. SMEC had 3 trainers from Fernbrook conduct a staff development on Autism that was very informative and led to great team discussions.

A huge thank you to Stacy Brown, Erin Finholdt, and Laura Perez-Nichols for taking the time to work with our teachers, paraprofessionals, occupational therapists, and speech assistants.

Our Director Dan Armagost will be at the Kingsland Special Board Meeting tonight. The meeting begins at 6pm in the Elementary Conference Room at Kingsland Public Schools. Dan will be presenting the SMEC audit and information on the SMEC facility project.

Friday Spotlight! Today's spotlight is on 2018! We at SMEC are very excited for what this year has to bring! We are still moving forward towards a new building that will house the Alternative Learning Center (ALC), a level IV program and also offices for our administrative team and specialists. Please remember to follow our page and share our page with others to keep informed of all new happenings coming this year! We will also be posting on our page when our director Dan Arm...agost will be at district board meetings to present and answer questions. Our coordinator Denise Kennedy will also be attending some district board meetings as well. Please feel free to attend your district board meetings to better understand where we are headed and what is driving us! If you cannot attend your district board meeting and you have questions, please feel free to message us on here and you can also email Tiffany Lewison at tlewison@smec.k12.mn.us and she will get you in touch with either Dan or Denise so they can help answer your questions! Thank you everyone for your continued support!

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Friday Spotlight time!! Today we wanted to take a minute to spotlight the Grand Meadow Special Education Department.

The Grand Meadow Special Education Department includes both teachers with a wealth of experience and also new teachers that bring in new and exciting ideas. They all work as a team so the needs of all students can be met in a timely manor. They all enjoy what they are doing and are grateful for the opportunity to work with the students in their classrooms on a... daily basis.

Each of these individuals contribute immensely to the growth and development of the students at Grand Meadow. Thank you to each of you for all you do and GO SUPERLARKS!

Back row from left to right: Dawn Baudoin (DAPE), Gary Sloan (High School Special Education), Dave Delaney (Middle School Special Education, Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired), Jessica Benson (Enrich Program Teacher), Gail Porter (Enrich Program Teacher). Front row from left to right: Joshua Bain (DAPE), Lauren Bogart (Elementary Special Education) Danielle Hall (Elementary Special Education, Autism Specialist), Kira Wellner (School Social Worker).

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Friday Spotlight time! This school year we introduced school based mental health services for our level 3 students. School based mental health services work to improve clinical and functional outcomes for children and youth with a mental health diagnosis. Untreated mental health issues are a significant barrier to learning and educational success. Having school based mental health services provides the opportunity for mental health promotion, prevention and early identification and intervention. Our team provides direct child and family services including assessment and treatment and they also provide teacher consultation and care coordination.

Thank you to this wonderful team for all that they do for our students!

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Happy 1st day of December! Today we are putting the SMEC admin team in the spotlight! The SMEC admin team currently consists of Dan Armagost (Director of Special Education), Denise Kennedy (Special Education Coordinator), Mary Bergene (Case Facilitator), Dee Felten (3rd Party Billing Coordinator), Liz Rice (MARSS Coordinator) and Tiffany Lewison (Administrative Assistant). They work collectively to ensure SMEC provides the best services and programs to the students of our member districts. They also work diligently in their individual roles to ensure all facets of our organization run smoothly.

Go team!

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Spotlight time and these ladies sure do steal the show! They are SMEC's Next S.T.E.P. transition program team.

The Next S.T.E.P. transition program is a work-based learning program that is a partnership between the SMEC member district's high schools and local area businesses. Learning at Next S.T.E.P. exhibits the sequential building of classroom knowledge and workplace skills through well-planned work-based learning experiences. The work-based learning program at Next S.T.E.P. ensures that students are properly trained in the necessary skills to be successful in entry-level employment. Our transition programs are currently located in Alden-Conger and Spring Valley.

Thank you team for everything you do for the success of our students across the consortium!

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Jade Miland, a long time Spring Valley resident recently graduated from the Southern Minnesota Education Consortium’s Transition Program. Jade was one of the first students from Kingsland Schools to participate in the new transition program that is located in downtown Spring Valley. The Next S.T.E.P. transition program is a work-based learning program that is a partnership between the SMEC member districts, their high schools, and local area businesses. Learning at Next S.T.E....P. exhibits the sequential building of academic knowledge and workplace skills through well-planned work-based learning experiences. The work-based learning program at Next S.T.E.P. ensures that students are properly trained in the necessary skills to be successful in entry-level employment.

Jade is pictured below with her cake and also pictured with Mr. Hecimovich signing her diploma - congratulations Jade!

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