December 2, 2021

Celebrating National Special Education Day

We often think of Special Education in general terms, but entire teams of experts in very specific fields are necessary for the program to run effectively. From paraprofessionals who manage interventions to related service providers who provide occupational therapy, these teams are essential to the success of our schools and the success of our students. They don’t often get the limelight, and for this National Special Education Day, we wanted to give them some love.

To our paraprofessionals:

When it comes to a challenge, paraprofessionals always run to the challenge and not away from it. Our paraprofessionals help build our school cultures with their deep commitment to KIPP Texas, their school, and most importantly, our students. They build relationships with students, which builds trust and helps the student be successful at school and beyond. – Mitch Elatkin, Managing Director of Special Populations

Behind every good teacher is an amazing superhero: The Paraprofessional. Our paraprofessionals work day in and day out with some of the most wonderful groups of students. They are there to support, teach, and keep us grounded. – Jaime Fountain, Director of Special Populations 

I cannot imagine how Special Education would run without paras. Every time our students need extra support (particularly when that support is extensive), paraprofessionals implement all the interventions while ensuring our students feel safe. Their patience, guidance, and support are invaluable to KIPP. – Mary Adolph, Behavior Specialist

To our speech professionals:

As a foundational literacy advocate and the great aunt of a child who receives speech services, I understand and know firsthand how you help students acquire the skills and confidence they need to soar. Thank you for your time, commitment, and advocacy. I am grateful for you and for the lives you impact. – Monique Basset, Senior Director of Foundational Literacy

From a student who received Speech services in elementary school to a School Leader who had students in need of Speech services, I am so thankful for the work that you do! Speech is such a critical part of personal and professional success. With your help, our students build confidence, improve reading & writing ability, and find that they enjoy school. – Kristen Pappas, Managing Director of School Management Support

You teach, provide support, collaborate with teachers/paras/admin, you progress monitor, and this year, you have taken on additional caseloads. You do all these things with professionalism and grace, and you make it look so easy. Thank you for putting on your hard hats and giving our students a voice as well as giving them the necessary skills to communicate effectively.  – LaConia Nelson, Interim Director of Special Populations, Houston

To our assessment personnel:

Our students and families continue to benefit from the time, detail, and intentionality that you all put into evaluating our little KIPPsters and supporting our teachers and families to ensure excellence and equity! – Roxanne Rangel, Managing Director of Primary Schools

Students themselves can advocate for what they need because you provide a narrative informed by who they are. I appreciate what you do, and please know that your efforts contribute to supporting the health of all KTX schools – Deedrah Harp, Deputy Chief of Student Support Services

To our related service providers:

Our related service providers go ABOVE and BEYOND to make sure our students have the very best equipment and programs to support them with their unique needs. From ensuring students have the right sensory equipment, the right writing utensils, the right kind of chair, to making sure they have supports in the area of counseling and mental health – our related services team makes sure no stone goes unturned on the path to finding success for our KIPPsters! – Amber McDaniel, Director of Special Populations

To our Special Education teachers:

I want to thank every Special Education teacher for the work they do to embrace the inherent worth and wonderful qualities of each of their students, for their fearless optimism and belief in the power of and potential of exceptionalities, and their tireless work to reiterate to their students that they believe in them unwaveringly and unconditionally. Your impact on children and their families is immeasurable. – Kim Seoudy, Managing Director of Talent Acquisition

There are not enough words to describe the impact y’all have on our kids. I’m grateful for your commitment and your ability to constantly Champion Equity in the name of our littlest KIPPsters. – Katie Carpenter, Managing Director of Teacher Development

I have so much admiration for the work that you do day in and day out, for continually thinking outside of the box for your students, for advocating on their behalf, and for collaborating (sometimes daily) with their families. I am beyond privileged to walk beside you in this work. – Rachel Korngut, Director of Special Programs