Ames named TAESE associate director

January 29, 2015 by Sue Reeves

image of Norm Ames

Norm Ames

Norm Ames has been named an associate director at the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE), a project of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Ames was the associate director of the Mountain Plains Regional Research Center,  but that project ended on October 1, 2014 after 30 years in operation. The MPRRC was the largest project associated with TAESE until the new Utah Professional Development Network began last July.

“The MPRRC is what generated TAESE,” Ames said. “John (Copenhaver, TAESE director) took what the RC was and made it into TAESE.”

When the federal funding for the RRCs was lost, two new centers were developed: The National Center for Systemic Improvement and the Center for Integration of IDEA Data. Many of the RRC employees lost their jobs, a few were picked up by other projects elsewhere, and Ames, Shawna Crane and Wayne Ball remained at TAESE and are working on the new projects.

Ames officially began his new duties on Dec. 1, 2014. He provides technical assistance to school districts and state offices of education in South Dakota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana and Utah, along with some added supervisory responsibilities.

“TAESE is building a legacy of technical assistance for our clients that represents the CPD extremely well,” Ames said. “We are now spoken of in the same breath as the big conglomerates like WestEd and Westat.”

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Ending the MPRRC after thirty-four years

October 29, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of blue door.

It is said that when one door closes, another opens, and TAESE staff will keep looking for new opportunities.

The last several months have been tumultuous and bittersweet at the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE). In March, TAESE was awarded a five-year contract to provide professional development and technical assistance to special educators in the state of Utah. In April and May, however, it was learned that a long-running project, the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC), might be ending.

Staff meetings during that period of time were difficult, said John Copenhaver, TAESE director.

The emotions in the office ranged from excitement for the new Center in Utah to disappointment that the MPRRC was closing.

The MPRRC was first established in 1980 and was funded for thirty-four years by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. The MPRRC was one of six Regional Resource Centers (RRCs) across the United States

“We thought the MPRRC would always be around,” Copenhaver said. “The MPRRC provided excellent services to State special education directors, SEA staff and Part C Coordinators for those many years.”

A statement was issued in April that the RRCs would no longer be funded and a RFP would soon be created to fund one larger center—the Center for Systemic Improvement. TAESE partnered with other agencies and wrote a proposal for the new center. Ultimately, WestEd was awarded the contract. MPRRC’s operations ended as of September 30, and several of the staff members lost their jobs.

“After thirty-four years, it’s a pretty big deal,” Copenhaver said. “I’ve never had to let people go before. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

On the positive side, TAESE has numerous contracts across the United States, and many MPRRC staff members were absorbed into those contracts.

When one door closes, other doors are opened. TAESE staff members are always looking out for the next opportunity—even with this setback, the future continues to be bright.

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MPRRC facilitates Arizona meeting

April 2, 2014 by Sue Reeves

map of MPRRC service areaOn March 31 and April 1, Part B and Part C teams from the ten states in the Mountain Plains Region and the Bureau of Indian Education (Part B only) met together in Phoenix, AZ to learn about and plan for the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) that each state is required to submit in February 2015.

The meeting was sponsored and facilitated by the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC), a project of the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. The meeting included participation by technical assistance providers from other TA Centers including the Region 5 Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERCC), Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA), Western Regional Resource Center (WRRC), North Central Regional Resource Center (NCRRC), SRI International, and TAESE. The US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) was represented by Deputy Director Ruth Ryder, RRCP Project Officer Perry Williams, and Research to Practice Specialist Jennifer Coffey.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum for state teams to gather new ideas and insights specific to submission of a new State Performance Plan (SPP), with specific focus on Phase 1 of the SSIP. The desired outcome was for each state team to leave with an action plan for compiling information and developing Phase 1 of the SSIP for submission on February 1, 2015. The agenda focused on the specific components of SSIP development: Data Analysis, Infrastructure Analysis, Theory of Action, Coherent Improvement Strategies, and Meaningful Engagement of Families and Stakeholders throughout the process.

“This meeting was very important for state teams to be able to meet together and focus on the important work of improving results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities,” said Steve Smith, associate director of TAESE.  “As a result of this meeting, states should be in a better position to select a state-identified measurable result based on data and infrastructure analysis and broad stakeholder input, connect it to the wider work of improving outcomes for all children in their states, develop a coherent set of improvement strategies to achieve the desired results, and tell their unique story in their states. It was evident throughout the meeting that states have been engaged in and serious about improving results, and the SSIP will be a vehicle for focusing the work and sharing the positive outcomes with the public.”

The sessions were designed to provide necessary information about each topic, present a variety of tools that states can use at each stage of the process, and time for state teams to work together to use the tools and plan next steps.

At the conclusion of the meeting, six Part B state teams spent an additional day and a half conducting a data drill-down meeting to further explore their state level data in order to select their state identified measurable result for students with disabilities.

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CPD Legacy Story: Karen Robinson

September 27, 2011 by cpehrson

This CPD Legacy Story is from Karen Robinson.  Karen volunteers at the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center, part of the Center of Technical Assistance in Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) at the CPD.

By Karen Robinson as told to Connie Pehrson.

When I was looking for a part time job over twenty years ago, little did I know I would find the perfect job!

I have worked at the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center at the CPD for the past 23 years. I started out working in the MPRRC Library with Julia Burnham (now retired), doing some filing. I now work a day or two each week for a couple of hours shredding papers, helping with the recycling, book binding, and whatever else they need done.  I like working here because they allow me to be flexible with my schedule. I have recently decided to continue to work here as a volunteer so that I can stay in touch with all of the great people that have become my friends through the years.

Having cerebral palsy hasn’t slowed me down much.  The Cache Valley Transit buses help me to get to and from work because I am able to get my electric scooter on it easily.

The buses also help me get to the activities offered by the local Options for Independence Center in Logan.   I have made some great Halloween costumes for their annual Halloween Party, and have had my picture in the Herald Journal showing them off a couple of times.  Most of the time I win first place!  I have also come in first place a few times in their 3K scooter/power chair races held each year.

I like my job, and I like to work.  Coming to work each week gets me out of the house and gives me a feeling of satisfaction.  I want to thank all of the great people at the MPRRC for letting me come and helping me to be productive and independent.

Here's a selection of photos showing Karen in her Halloween costumes.

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