• Westside Community Schools special educators and administrators recognize the importance of ensuring a successful transition between levels for students with disabilities.  Whether your family is preparing to advance grade-levels within the same building or transitioning into a new elementary, middle or high school, we know the process can be both daunting and exciting.  In efforts to prepare and engage students and families in the transition process, we want to share with you a little about what happens behind the scenes, as well as to provide you with steps you/your learner can take to make the transition process successful.  

      Each spring, in preparation for the following school year, district administrators and special educators collaborate to determine the names, numbers, and needs of students projected to attend each building in the fall.  Flexibility and forethought are key as special education leaders allocate the resources, materials, equipment, and personnel required at each site to meet the educational needs of all learners.  As these systems-level decisions are being made, special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, behavioral facilitators and others are conducting observations of incoming students, participating in IEP meetings, facilitating building tours, and/or reviewing student data and IEP-related documentation.  These and other steps are taken at each level to help the receiving case manager and overall building best prepare for the first day of school in August.  But transition planning doesn’t stop in May!  Once special educators have a more comprehensive picture of their fall caseload, the summer professional learning opportunities begin.  During the months of June and July, special education professionals participate in training, book studies, collaborative planning sessions, transition activities, and other adventures to refine their approach or gain new strategies to meet the needs of our learners.  

      The level-to-level transition process for each learner is as individualized as the IEP itself.  While one child may need a highly structured approach to transition, other children may only require indirect support.  Open dialogue and active participation in the transition process is beneficial for students, parents, and the entire educational team.  Whether you attend informational sessions offered by the school, participate in IEP meetings, take your child to visit the new school, ask questions of school staff, or simply provide words of encouragement at home, each of these actions help set the home-school team up for success.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s current case manager if you have questions about this topic. Westside Community Schools Special Services Department thanks you for your continued collaboration and partnership.

    • Did you know…

      That the year your child enters 9th grade, Westside Community Schools special educators begin preparing them for life beyond high school?  This process, known as post-secondary transition planning, is a critical component of your child’s IEP once they reach the age of 16.  While it may seem like a “long way off” for some, the time goes by quickly and there is much to accomplish for both parent(s)/guardian(s) and students, between freshman year and graduation! 

      Depending on the strengths, goals, and needs of both you and your child, Westside's secondary special education teams approach post-secondary transition planning in a variety of unique and student-specific ways.  All students, with the support of parent(s) and the IEP team, participate in multiple transition assessments, both formal and informal, each school year.  These annual assessments help the student, family and educational team consider and prioritize areas such as: student goals, coursework taken or classes needed, skills of independence, credits earned, preferences and areas of interest, future living arrangements, and vocational experiences--all for the purpose of creating a comprehensive transition plan and student course of study.  Once goals are set and future plans are discussed by the IEP team, the student and his/her educational and/or community-based team(s) collaborate to implement and accomplish key pieces of the plan each year, until the student successfully graduates or completes his/her educational program.   

      Your child’s future is a priority to us!  Whether it is through job exploration, work-based learning, counseling for transition and post-secondary collegiate programs, workplace readiness training or self-determination/self-advocacy training, our staff supports students (and their families) in being as career and/or college-ready as possible.  Working with their IEP case manager, school counselors and Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation (when applicable), our students have opportunities to explore areas of interest vocationally as well academically, which better prepares them for the future.  We encourage you to partner with your child’s case manager on this important endeavor!