CAC Corner: DD Council prepares for Advocacy Awards

August 29, 2013 by Sue Reeves

By Claire Mantonya, Utah Developmental Disabilities Council

bannerLogoAt the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council, we are preparing for our annual Advocacy Awards that we celebrate during our September Annual Council meeting on September 10. People are invited to submit nominations from several categories and it is always nice to reflect upon the many, many local heroes that work to support our Utah disability community.

Here are the 2013 Advocacy Award winners:

Self-Advocate of the Year – Anna Lillquist from Park City
Parent of the Year – Laura Anderson from North Salt Lake (and CAC member, too!)
Educator of the Year – Willis G. Jensen from Orangeville
Employer of the Year – Robert Sullivan
Legislator of the Year – Sen. Margaret Dayton
Media Representative of the Year – Big Budah
Adult Sibling of the Year – Eric Mitchell from Salt Lake

Congratulations to all these wonderful advocates!

In addition,  we will be recognizing several important professionals who will be retiring from years of service to the citizens of Utah:

Palmer DePaulis – the Director of the Department of Human Services
Marie Christman – the Deputy Director of the Department of Human Services
Don Uchida – the Director of Rehabilitative Services

We owe a many thanks to these dedicated professionals.

On another note, the Council, with the support of adult siblings Jeff Sheen and Eric Mitchell, are starting the conversation to see about how we might best provide some supports for adult sibs. This is part of a greater national conversation that has started in many states and nationally as the Adult Sibling Leadership Network.

Utah will eventually be organizing UTABS – Utah Adult Brothers and Sisters. In the meantime, if you know or are an adult sibling, drop me a line or give me a call as we will shortly be starting a Facebook page and gathering contact information to begin connections.

Claire Mantonya

Fulbright Scholars from Iraq visit CPD

August 27, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of man working on saddle.

AT lab manager Clay Christensen makes and adjustment to an adaptive saddle in the lab.

A group of eight Fulbright Scholars from Iraq recently spent several hours at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, learning about disability and how services are approached.

The scholars, who are visiting the USU campus for 10 weeks, are all faculty members of universities in Iraq in the fields of applied linguistics and teaching English as a foreign language. USU faculty members Maria Luisa Spicer-Escalante and Karin de Jonge-Kannan from the department of languages, philosophy and communication studies submitted the proposal that led to the group’s visit.

CPD Director Bryce Fifield took the scholars on a field trip to the Assistive Technology (AT) lab, part of the CPD’s Utah Assistive Technology Project.

“The AT lab used to be used to fix lawnmowers,” he told the group. “Several years ago when we created the AT program, we knew we needed a place we could bring people and students so they could have hands-on experience.”

AT lab manager Clay Christensen said, “People come here when they need assistive technology—high-tech or low-tech, or mobility aids. It’s not uncommon for me to have someone come in with a need, and the solution either doesn’t exist or it is prohibitively expensive. We can create it for next to nothing.”

Christensen said in addition to the devices that he and his assistants create, the AT lab maintains a loan bank so services can be provided to people across the state of Utah.

“This is a wonderful program, and it can be easily duplicated,” he said. “This is possible. Money is always an issue, but there’s always a way around it. All this stuff exists in the world. A lot of it is thrown away, but so much of it can be reused.”

Christensen also showed the computer lab to the group, and demonstrated all the accessibility tools that are already built in to computers and smartphones.


Forbush joins TAESE as co-associate director

August 22, 2013 by Sue Reeves

mug shot of Dave Forbush

David Forbush

Dr. David Forbush has joined the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) as co-associate director. TAESE is a division of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Forbush is new to TAESE, but is not stranger to USU. He completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master of science in school psychology, a school administrative/supervisory endorsement, a Ph.D. in special education and rehabilitation and a post-doctoral fellowship at USU.

Most recently, he spent six years as the director of special education for Cache County School District, where he provided instructional leadership for about 2,000 students with disabilities and supervised more than 350 staff members. With the exception of another seven years in the Preston (Idaho) School District, where he served as school psychologist, Title 1 coordinator and director of special education, much of his career has revolved around USU’s department of special education and rehabilitation, where he has been an assistant professor, the master’s program coordinator and a clinical instructor.

Forbush was also co-director of Project Need to Read, a collaborative project between USU and the University of Toledo, and was the director of USU’s Center for Academic Interventions.

Forbush said former TAESE associate director Marty Blair, who left the CPD in May to become director of Montana’s UCEDD, encouraged him to apply for the position.

“Marty talked to me to see if I had any interest,” Forbush said. “I had been in the school district for six years. This covers a larger geographic area and the opportunity to have more influence.”


Smith joins TAESE as co-associate director

August 20, 2013 by Sue Reeves

image of steve smith

Steven Smith

Steven Smith has joined the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) as co-associate director. TAESE is a division of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Before coming to TAESE, Smith spent almost eight years as the director of operations for special education at the Oregon Department of Education, where he worked with finance, data and dispute resolution.

Smith originally trained in secondary education with an emphasis in social studies and language arts. He found it difficult to get a job without coaching experience, so he trained to be a substitute teacher with a youth correctional facility in Salem, Ore. There, he worked with five students who had low cognitive functioning, following them from classroom to classroom every day. Administrators told him if he enrolled in a special ed graduate program, they would hire him full time. He did, and spent the next five years teaching at that facility.

“I enjoy working in the special education world, helping districts and working with educators,” Smith said. “I like helping them figure out how to use their money in creative yet legal ways, networking with colleagues from other states to see how they’re handling issues and duties. It prepared me well for coming to TAESE and working with states directly.”

Smith saw the announcement for the TAESE position on a listserv. As he was going through the list of desired qualifications, he said, “I do that now, I love that, I like to do that … it seemed like a good fit.”

As co-associate director of TAESE, Smith will work to increase the number of contracts and the number of states in which TAESE works. He also works directly with departments of education in New Mexico, Kansas and Utah.

Smith, his wife and two children are adjusting to life in the Cache Valley.

“We like it here, although there are not as many trees as I’m used to,” he said. “We’ll see what I say after the winter is over.”

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TAESE aids Kansas Leadership Conference

August 15, 2013 by Sue Reeves

tasnThe Kansas Department of Education Technical Assistance System Network (TASN), a program of The Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, held a leadership conference in Wichita, Kan. July 24-26 with 300-350 participants.

The leadership conference offers information relevant to educational leadership and provides updated information on district requirements in preparation for the upcoming school year. The conference is for regular and special education leadership from across Kansas, according to TAESE associate director Dave Forbush, who attended the conference.

“It was really nice to see the state superintendent and her cabinet there,” Forbush said.

Keynote speakers for the conference were Dr. Randy Sprick, who spoke on classroom management, and Dr. Larry Wexler, who spoke about the policy of restraint and seclusion for special education students.

Pre-conference workshops included a session for new special education administrators and coordinators, and a session on management information systems for special education administrators.