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September 2017                                                        Issue 5, Vol. 8



Dear MANSEF Families and Colleagues,


As you may already know, MANSEF is a not-for-profit organization consisting of the nonpublic special education facilities approved by the Maryland State Department of Education. These facilities throughout Maryland promote quality services for children and youth with disabilities. MANSEF schools serve more than 4,000 students from ages 2–21.
 
The Friends of MANSEF (FOM) serves in an advisory capacity to the MANSEF Board of Directors to address matters of family involvement and communication, and to act as a core group of advocates to help educate government leaders, policy makers and members of the general public about the educational needs of children with disabilities. 
 
We need the voices of parents/guardians like you to inform both the MANSEF board and the greater community. Your experiences and stories play an important role both for policy making within the MANSEF organization and for advocating for students in MANSEF schools before government and state agencies.
 
Our parents have been instrumental in communicating to communities all across Maryland that students with special needs have options regarding the most appropriate environment for the delivery of their educational services.  
 
If you are interested in participating in the Friends of MANSEF, please click here.
 
We have been busy in other areas as well. I am pleased to announce the new officers of MANSEF: President, Tania DuBeau (Pathways Schools); Vice President, Robin Church (Kennedy Krieger Schools); Treasurer, Martha Schneider (The Harbour Schools); Secretary, Piper Phillips-Caswell (Phillips Schools); and Immediate Past President, Amy Alvord (Ivymount School). Our new officers and board members will guide and lead us as we continue to broaden our outreach to students and families.     
 
Finally, our updated MANSEF Membership Directory for the new school year is available and posted on our website, www.mansef.org. The directory has been completely updated and is filled with resources for parents. Click here for the directory.
 
Best wishes for a successful school year. 


Dorie Flynn 
Executive Director



Tips for Easing Back Into School 

Most of our students actually began their new school year during the summer, but it's never too late to set in place some practices to help guide you, your child and the school team to a place of success. Here are some ways to do that:
  • Build a positive relationship with the team through regular, respectful communication, including updated personal information, emergency contacts, current health information, etc. Don't forget the bus driver and attendant, if appropriate.
  • Set up or update your system for keeping paperwork organized—a place for priority paperwork, a place for forms to complete and return, a place to collect graded work, etc. Some parents find that a binder system works best; others use folders.
  • Create a dedicated homework space, stocked with necessary materials.
  • Work with your student on a schedule for before-school and after-school responsibilities and activities, to cut down on conflicts in these times of transition.
  • Share with the school team any behavioral systems, charts or tools that you use at home, and offer to provide a duplicate set for use at school (if appropriate) to set consistency for your student.
  • Make sure your child's IEP is up to date; if it's been months since the last annual meeting, your child's needs may have changed since then.
  • Check in with your child frequently, especially if he/she has changed schools or made a transition (elementary to middle school, middle school to high school). Expectations and reality may be very different, and regular check-ins can ease stress. 

MSDE Guidance on Parental Consent Law 
 

Parental consent now is required for a student to be moved to an alternate assessment. The Maryland State Department of Education has released an updated guide for determining alternate assessment participation.
 
Click here for information about the parental consent law, and here for the Maryland Guidance for IEP Teams on Participation Decisions for the Alternate Assessments.



Grab the Tissues

Chelsea School in Hyattsville long as been a nurturing place for students and faculty to create magic. The family atmosphere at the school, which serves students in grades 5 through 12 with language-based learning differences, was taken to heart by one student and his family, literally changing the life of a very special educator.
 
By this spring, Co-Head-of-School and Middle School Principal Kristal Weems-Bradner had been fighting the effects of kidney disease for about 20 years, since receiving a diagnosis in her late 20s, and she had been a daily dialysis patient for several years. The condition runs in her family, so she was well aware of the road ahead. She was on the transplant list and waiting for a donor after none of her friends and relatives had proved able to donate.
 
Two years ago, after addressing students in a biology class about how kidneys function—and malfunction—student Alec Casey offered to be a donor. At 16, he was two years too young—so the day after his 18th birthday, he approached Weems-Bradner again with the offer. With his parents' approval, Alec began the process of qualifying to be a donor, but stopped when told people with tattoos could not donate (which is not correct).
 
That's when his father stepped in, completing on June 20 the journey Alec set out on two years ago when he first offered a kidney. Chris Casey, a former member of the Friends of MANSEF, didn't hesitate. He told a reporter afterward, "How many times do you really have an opportunity to give back?"
 
Click here to read all about the Casey family and their now lifelong connection to Weems-Bradner. Well done, Caseys!




Mark Your Calendar 

Baltimore City   
ASD: Puberty and Sexuality
Sept. 14, 10 a.m.–noon

The Family Life Center
Gospel Tabernacle Baptist Church
3100 Walbrook Ave., Baltimore

Howard County 
Social Security Workshop for People with Disabilities 

Sept. 15, 9:30 a.m.–noon 
Roger Carter Community Center
3000 Milltowne Drive, Ellicott City 

Kent County  
Eastern Shore Self-Advocacy Project Fashion Show Fundraiser 
Sept. 16, 12:30–3:30 p.m.

Camp Fairlee
22242 Bay Shore Road, Chestertown

Howard County  
Community Pathways Waiver Renewal Information Sessions
Sept. 18, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
The Meeting House
5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia 

Prince George's County
Community Pathways Waiver Renewal Sessions  
Sept. 19, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
Metro Points Hotel
8500 Annapolis Road, New Carrollton

Dorchester County 
Community Pathways Waiver Renewal Information Sessions 
Sept. 20, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. 
Holiday Inn Express Cambridge
2715 Ocean Gateway, Cambridge

Anne Arundel County  
Life Transition Series: Accessible Resources for Independence  
Sept. 20, noon–1:30 p.m.
Woods Memorial Church
611 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd.
Severna Park

Baltimore City 
7th Annual Run Wild for Autism
Sept. 24, 7–11 a.m.
The Maryland Zoo
1 Safari Place, Baltimore   

Baltimore City
Getting an Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis: Where do I go from here? 
Sept. 25, 9:30–11:30 a.m.
3901 Greenspring Ave., Creamer Bldg.
3rd Floor Large Conference Room
Baltimore

Baltimore City
What is Transition Planning for a Teen with an ASD Diagnosis? 
Sept. 25, 1–3 p.m.
3901 Greenspring Ave., Creamer Bldg.
3rd Floor Large Conference Room
Baltimore

For more information on these events and for more items, click here.
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MANSEF, P.O. Box 6815, Baltimore, MD 21285-6815, USA