It is always important to give credit where credit is due and place a spotlight on any district that has shown great strides in making things happen! Secondary Transition service is one such area of focus that reflects an excellent model found at Ottumwa High School. Their Special Education Department Head/Transition Coordinator, Michele Cooper, has led the way over the years, along with a supportive administration, a great faculty, knowledgeable GPAEA core team providers and an active Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, to bring in different levels of future services for students.
Here are some of the other building activities that make transition development so successful:
- The area of transition is a priority for students at the point of entry to OHS through their graduation. Parents and students are routinely asked for their input at every staffing when considering the future for post-secondary work or educational planning.
- The students have a Guided Study class in which they meet with their special education advocates daily. The students remain with their advocate all four years to encourage the relationship building. By the time students become seniors, their advocate knows the strengths and career interests of each student. During this Guided Study period, each IEP student meets with his/her Special Education teacher to improve skill areas, check on course progress, complete transition assessments and further planning opportunities for the future. Each student is involved in their own IEP process, working with their advocate to develop the appropriate IEP to meet their needs. Many of the students direct their own IEP meetings.
- The OHS Transition Coordinator arranges with the students to complete Compass testing at IHCC, provides college visits or Job Corps tours for junior and senior students, and assists with students accessing post- secondary service providers, such as Vocational Rehabilitation. The OHS Transition Coordinator attends all student IEP meetings, enrolls students in their courses and monitors their grades and attendance. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor is on site one day a week to meet with students and parents to start the process of post-secondary planning.
- Most OHS students are in the inclusive program model of education in the least restrictive environment with their peers. They are enrolled in a seven- period day, with core requirements being met and they are encouraged to take electives that meet their Career pathways.
- To ensure that we are reaching students and parents, the school has taken on the initiative of Parent Engagement, with training provided to teachers during professional development. The intent is to include parents so relationships can be built to forge a partnership. This partnering with students, parents and teachers will help students stay in school. Together, the school can help them with post-secondary planning.
- Another initiative to ensure students stay on track is a special education SAT team. This is made up of GPAEA personnel, the Transition Coordinator, the Teen Health mental health therapist and special education teachers. They meet bi-monthly to develop interventions for students who are struggling with academic, behavior or attendance issues.
- Students are also considered, during their junior or senior years, for Work-Experience placement in their nearby community businesses. This would be considered for those students that have a need in order to build work-readiness skills and/or explore various job skills. OHS has a certified Work-Experience Coordinator that provides appropriate job site development, monitors the students, job coaches and does follow-up assessments within those student placements.
For questions or inquiries about how to help implement all or some of Ottumwa High School’s Transition Coordination planning model, please contact: Keith Dimmitt, GPAEA Transition Coordinator / 641-472-3414 ext. 5422 firstname.lastname@example.org or Michele Cooper, OHS Transition Coordinator / 641-683-4444 email@example.com.
Keith Dimmitt, Transition Coordinator