Crane celebrates 30 years with TAESE

October 20, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of shauna crane

Shauna Crane

Shauna Crane started her career at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities in September 1985, and recently celebrated 30 years of service. She was a staff member at the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC), an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education project that provided technical assistance in special education to 11 State Education Agencies in that region. During that time, she served in library services, information services, program coordination, and technical assistance.

Crane then became the program coordinator for the entire Regional Resource Center Program and now serves as a staff member at TAESE (the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education) as a program coordinator for two OSEP Centers, the Center for IDEA Fiscal Reporting (CIFR) and the Center for the Integration of IDEA Data (CIID). She also provides other technical assistance for a variety of TAESE projects.

“Shauna has been extremely efficient and effective in all her assignments and is greatly respected across the country,” said John Copenhaver, director of TAESE.

“I don’t feel old enough to have worked in one place for 30 years!” Crane said.

“I have really appreciated the flexibility,” she said, explaining how her work schedule has ranged from part-time to full-time over the years. “The flexibility and the way they worked with my situation made it so I could do it. This wasn’t in my field or even in my interest area, but it’s been a really nice place to work. I’m not sure how you could do it better.”


TAESE hosts state director summit

September 14, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Group photo of state directors.

State directors of special education recently attended a summit in Bozeman, MT, organized by TAESE.

TAESE (the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education, a division of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities), recently hosted a State Director Summit in Bozeman, Montana. There were 18 participants from 12 states, including Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Utah, and Wyoming. Bill East, Director of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) also attended.

The purpose of the summit was to provide an opportunity for planning and discussing critical issues in special education across states, as well as sharing challenges and successes.  Directors shared and discussed topics including current issues related to the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP), efforts to improve state monitoring systems, and other hot topics on state General Supervision Requirements.

Directors were treated to a dinner and networking visit to beautiful Big Sky, Montana and were pleased with the relatively clear skies given the recent fires in the area.  The summit provided Directors an opportunity to remove themselves from their offices and accomplish some much-needed networking, learning, and sharing amongst colleagues. One director commented “Thanks for the thoughtful planning for a productive and fun meeting in order to meet our state specific needs.”


Transition Institute supports youth with disabilities

March 24, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Images of Mendenhall and Wilson.

Kim Mendenhall (left) and Emily Wilson.

The third annual Utah Transition Institute was held at Davis Conference Center in Layton in February with more than 150 attendees from 40 local education agencies (LEAs).  The Institute was planned by Kim Mendenhall and Emily Wilson, instructional coaches/implementation specialists for the Utah Professional Development Network. UPDN is a program of the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special education at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Participants from LEAs gathered to focus on outcomes from Utah’s current State Strategic Transition Plan for youth with disabilities ages 16-24. The outcomes include: 1) Supporting youth in their postsecondary goals, particularly linguistically and culturally diverse youth, 2) Ensuring consistent transition team procedures across the state, and 3) Ensuring all team members have knowledge of their roles and responsibilities and can effectively execute them into student transition planning.

“It truly was exciting to see the fire ignite within these LEA teams,” Wilson said. “The major intent of the institute was to affect student outcomes in the area of transition from secondary to post-secondary experiences–I think this event allowed the participating LEA transition teams to plan for that end.

Topics discussed during the three-day event included an overview of what is happening with transition nationally, transition and adult services, implementation science and transition planning, IEP development and compliance, and a college readiness panel. Sarah Bodily, director of Aggies Elevated at USU, participated in the college readiness panel.

“Working with stakeholders nationally and locally for the purpose of improving outcomes for students with disabilities towards college/career readiness and independent living was an amazing experience,” Mendenhall said. She and Wilson shared anonymous comments from participants.

“I feel much more focused and less overwhelmed with the whole transition process. I am really excited at what can be accomplished!”

“Getting materials and resources to help us in our quest to improve transition at our school.”

“The dedicated time to reflect on my data and work on an aspect of it to create a plan.”


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Copenhaver honored with Strong Award

March 9, 2015 by Sue Reeves

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John Copenhaver

John Copenhaver, director of the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, has been named the recipient of the 2015 Strong Human Services Award by the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. He will received the award on April 14 at the college’s annual award ceremony.

The Strong Human Services Award honors a CEHS faculty member for significant and sustained leadership in human services, applying research to improve the lives of children or adults. The Award also recognizes cross-college and interdisciplinary efforts in human services, with leadership coming from a CEHS faculty member. The $1,000 cash award is funded by an endowment.

Of the award, Copenhaver said, “It kind of came out of the blue. I have such respect for Carol Strong, who was the dean before Beth Foley. She’s just a great person, a great leader. To have your name associated with her name is just a humbling experience.”

In addition to serving as the director of TAESE, Copenhaver was the principal investigator for the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC) before that project ended last year. Copenhaver has experience in special education at the school district, state, regional, and national levels. Before joining the TAESE/MPRRC staff in 1989, Copenhaver served as a special education resource teacher, school psychologist, and special education director.

His work at TAESE and the MPRRC has involved providing technical assistance at the school, state, regional, and national levels. Copenhaver has extensive experience in Indian education. He provides technical assistance to states regarding their State Performance Plan, Annual Performance Report, and Levels of Determination.

Copenhaver has produced numerous training materials; been called upon to assist states and school districts in most areas of special education; made numerous conference presentations; published articles on special education issues; and provided technical assistance in the areas of legal issues, special populations, developing effective Individualized Education Programs, due process/mediation, Section 504, procedural safeguards, systems change, strategic planning, CSPD, State Advisory Panels, assistive technology, extended school year, and numerous other topics.

Copenhaver holds degrees from the University of Montana and University of Utah in Philosophy, Psychology, and Special Education Administration-School Psychology. He has been presented with four major national awards, the Martha J. Fields Excellence Award (NASDSE), the Joleta Reynolds Award (LRP Publications), National Award of Excellence (Bureau of Indian Affairs), and a National Award of Excellence in Special Education (NASDSE).


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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