Friday, March 4, 2016

Terese Jurgensen ~ Director of Student Services - March 3, 2016

Cascade of Social Attention - Social Observation Checklist
During this past month, I have met with 4 different groups of parents and in some cases, their children and completed a Social Observation/Cascade of Social Attention Checklist with them in order to help create a Treatment Plan in supporting their children socially, emotionally and cognitively. Each time I have sat with parents, it reminds me so much of myself when I came to learn of the work of Michelle Garcia Winner and what she has termed, Social Thinking. These parents say things like, "That's it!" "Ah-Ha!" "Wow! This makes so much sense!" It is so gratifying for me to support them and and say, "This is where we will start and here are strategies we can start with." These are words of hope. 
"Social Thinking is a strength-­based treatment ideology offering related treatment strategies for individuals who have social learning challenges and solid cognitive and language skills. Thus, those who are targeted for treatment using strategies from Social Thinking are individuals who can grasp the notion that considering and responding to social thoughts is complex. Social Thinking strategies and concepts are not only utilized in social interactions or when sharing space effectively with others but also for socially interpreting movies, TV shows, and literature, and in a variety academic areas (such as history, social studies, and situations like peer work groups when relating to one another is required for academic success). Yet even within this subgroup of students who have social learning weaknesses along with language and cognitive strengths, students do not all show the same level of social abilities or of academic learning issues. Because of this, Winner discouraged the practice of “grouping” students for treatment solely on the basis of the most recent diagnostic label." (This paragraph is taken from an article written by Michelle Garcia Winner. To read more go to, 

So often in special education, people are concerned with "labels" or even the fact that we can't effectively create strategies or treatment plans without a "label" or diagnosis. Speaking as a mother whose son "had to have a label" in order to attempt to get support for him, I am not in favor of "labels." People are created for relationships - not for labels.  Labels hurt and wound people when they are given a name like "autism," "learning disabled," or "dyslexic." At Howard-Winn, we are not creating supports for labels, we are creating supports for students who are created for a purpose...for something great! If you would like to learn more about Social Thinking, or would like to meet in order to complete a Social Thinking Observation Checklist, please do not hesitate to call and set up an appointment.

 Update on English Language Learners

Alicia Martin our English Language Learner Teacher
The State of Iowa has turned a focus on providing new opportunities and focus for students who have another language, other than English, as their primary language. International students are coming to Iowa with their families, not only to work but to receive a quality education that Iowans have enjoyed for generations. The State of Iowa has created a set of Core Standards, new testing opportunities, a co-teaching model and a variety of other supports that are crucial to these young people's lives. It is all very exciting, and throughout the year, we have had a strong focus on creating a quality system and plan for our students here at Howard-Winn. To learn more about our focus and the opportunities afforded to our students and families, please go to a new website created by Ms. Martin:

Quick Facts About ESL at Howard-Winn
  • We currently have 7 ELL students in our district, ranging in grades K-12
  • Our current roster is predominantly Spanish-speaking 
  • We have also had students speak Chinese & Urdu as their native language, in addition to Spanish
  • Lists of individual accommodations/modifications go out to classroom teachers in the fall
  • ELL students are screened upon enrollment and take a Spring Assessment (in addition to MAPS and Iowa Assessments) called ELPA21 to determine proficiency levels
Last week we enrolled one new family into our district who has gotten a job at the new Lime Springs Beef plant that just recently opened. According to this family, there are other families that are looking to move to Cresco, but are in need of housing. If you know of houses that are open to rent, it would be wonderful to know about this. Please reach me about any housing opportunities available, and I will be sure to inform these families. We are excited to have these wonderful people as additions to our Howard-Winn family!

  Read Across America Week with Dr. Suess!


High School Choir Concert 
Student Choice!
Monday evening was a rare treat with the auditorium packed with parents, students, and community members enjoying the high school chorus sing a variety of songs that were chosen by the students. One particular favorite seemed to be a  song about fathers and their daughters while pictures of chorus members and their fathers flashed across a screen...not a dry eye in the house. Another favorite was the song Alleluia accompanied by Carter Dahl on his guitar and an African hymn. 

Thank you, Mrs. LeFebvre for always delivering a quality show worthy of accolades, joy and lots of Tweets on Twitter!  

Have a great week!
Please feel free to contact me,
Terese Jurgensen

(563) 929-6344

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