UPDN organizes Transition Institute

February 17, 2016 by Sue Reeves

By Deanna Taylor and Kim Mendenhall, UPDN

Susan Loving standing in front of a projection screen during a presentation.

Susan Loving, USOE, leads a session at the Transition Institute.

The 2016 Utah Transition Institute took place January 28 and 29 at the Davis Conference Center. The event was organized by the Utah Professional Development Network, 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 purpose of the institute was “to support transition planning and building capacity to improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities.” More than 200 dedicated professionals in Utah left their places of work and invested the time to dig deep into data that informed how they designed their team transition plans for their districts and charter schools. Team participants included both special and general educators, coordinators, specialists, administrators, counselors, vocational rehabilitation representatives, counselors, agency providers, parents, and paraprofessionals.

Facilitators received one full day of training, and then spent two days providing guidance for the teams in their work on the team transition planning tool. Dr. June Gothberg, from the National Technical Assistance in Transition (NTACT), provided the facilitator training as well as support of the planning tool for all participants at the institute. Prior to the institute, team leaders from each participating district/charter school participated in an online training led by Susan Loving, Utah State Office of Education (USOE) Transition Specialist, on preparing their teams for the institute. All 34 teams in attendance left with plans that will be reviewed and analyzed for technical soundness. The work will continue with the Virtual Community of Practice (V-CoP) for Transition in the coming months to insure implementation and evaluation of the team transition plans, as well as ongoing statewide transition collaboration.

In addition to team planning, outstanding keynote speakers and presenters from all over the state provided rich content for the plenary and learning sessions. Each of their presentations provided knowledge and planning of effective transition, aligning beautifully with the institute’s purpose.


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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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