I hope everyone is having a smooth transition into our 2018/2019 school year!
October is so jam packed with fun activities, social events and educational opportunities that you’ll want to update your calendars as you’re reading through this letter, because there are great things happening you won’t want to miss!
SEED is thrilled to be adding the High School community into our programming and support. Don’t miss the monthly high school parent get-together at Metro this week, October 4th from 7-9pm.
Our monthly breakfasts at The Parlor will be back in full swing starting next Friday, October 12th from 9-10:30am. If you can’t make this one, just keep in mind that we’ll have one every 2ndFriday of the month, and we would love to see you there!
We are all so fortunate to have special education advocate Todd Gary back for our parent education series this month. The topic is Fostering Advocacy in Kids with Special Needs, and will be a great presentation October 11th from 6-8pm at Acalanes High School library. To RSVP for this informative event, please click here.
Our beloved annual Fall Family Day at Sienna Ranch is right around the corner, on October 21st12noon-3pm. Truly one of my favorite activities of the year, with pumpkin crafts, pony rides, farm animals, a face painter, lunch and more. This one does fill up, and is just $10 per family, so be sure to RSVP soon for this day of fun!
SEED is also proud to co-sponsor two new programs this year – one a social group with Sienna Ranch and the other sibling support group with Spectrum Strategies. These two programs got underway in September and have been very popular with our community.
In addition, don’t miss upcoming respite nights. The next one will be this Friday, Oct. 5th at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church. Contact Mary Kaye Stephens for more information.
And lastly, SEED is very honored to have been chosen by our Assemblywoman, Catharine Baker, as the Nonprofit of the Year for Assembly District 16. She and her team graciously hosted a ceremony last month at the Lafayette Library for SEED to celebrate this honor, where our board, many members of our community and several school reps attended. Thank you to the Lafayette community - you are all part of the village that is helping our children thrive, and this Nonprofit of the Year belongs to us all!
Welcome back to school!
I hope you had a wonderful summer.
The SEED Board is thrilled to congratulate former board member extraordinaire, Kenny Tuckerman, who will start on LAFSD Governing Board in December. His contribution to SEED for the past 3 years was phenomenal: Kenny was my co-liaison with the LAFSD, as well as our parliamentarian, he elevated our website and communications and spearheaded innovative programs and partnerships. His in-depth understanding of all aspects of SpEd and special needs in general will be invaluable on the School Board. Kenny, we thank you for your inspiring willingness to serve! We would also like to congratulate Suzi Pak, Jean Follmer, and Rob Sturm who will be joining him on the School Board.
We are very proud to have been chosen by our Assemblywoman, Catharine Baker, as the Nonprofit of the Year for Assembly District 16. We traveled to Sacramento on June 6th, California Nonprofits Day, to receive our award.
I would also like to introduce you to the SEED Board for school year 2018-2019. Click here for who’s who and bios. Personally, I would like to extend a special thank you to Board Member Robyn Dobruck who is stepping up to be my Co-President this year. If you would like to volunteer, please email us at email@example.com.
This year, we will bring back a lot of your favorite programming…
...as well as a variety of new exciting projects and programs, such as:
As always we will be kicking off the year with our back-to-school brunch, hosted by the Kauder and Weiss families at the Weiss residence. Register here.
We hope many of you will come to meet and greet with fellow SEED members as well as new LAFSD Superintendent, Richard Whitmore, LAFSD Assistant Superintendent, Mary Maddux, and LAFSD Director of Student Services, Pat Gargiulo.
Do not miss our Back-to-School Checklist on our Homepage!
Last but not least, if you need an evening to recover from Back-to-School, I recommend you sign up all your children to the upcoming Respite Night at LOPC on Friday September 7th. Email Michelle Browning to register. And don’t feel guilty: it is even more of a treat for the children as their programming and staff are fabulous.
I wish all of your families a great school year!
Elsa Troy Slovik
Happy Spring SEED Friends!
We had an amazing beginning of the year. Here are some of the highlights you may have missed or you’ll enjoy seeing recapped:
In January, in partnership with LOPC for respite and space, we had an inspiring moment watching together the acclaimed documentary Swim Team about a Special Olympics Swim Team and some of its star athletes. The discussion following the movie was moderated by Educational Psychologist Carrie Rodrigues and enriched by the presence of representatives from our local Special Olympics Swim Team, the East Bay Sea Serpents, including managers, volunteer coaches and athletes!
IEP Parent Ed Series
In February, at the last event of our IEP Parent Ed Series with Todd Gary, IEP Collaboration, the following points were covered:
For details, view the presentation by clicking here.
Click here for the NCLD IDEA Parent Guide, an essential tool to become an empowered partner.
Winter Play Date
Also in February, we filled the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek with a lot of excitement for our first Winter Play Date, run by the fabulous educational psychologist Jenna Krook.
Learning Disability Simulation Workshop
Earlier this month, we gave a headache and everlasting insight and empathy to the parents and caregivers who attended our 3rd Learning Disability Simulation Workshop. SEED uses the kit developed by IDA Northern California. Click here to read the article the East Bay Times wrote about the same workshop last year. SEED is grateful to Temple Isaiah for providing us with space for this workshop for a second year in a row.
Breakfast Speaker Series: Visual Supports
At SEED’s breakfast earlier this month, Educational Psychologist Carrie Rodrigues was back to present how to use visual supports with our children. Carrie presented a wide array of visual supports for organizing life, for coping and for social skills. You can follow Carrie on Instagram and/or Facebook for more ideas @justkeepswimmingmama.
Don’t Miss SEED’s Annual Fundraiser and Resource Fair
We are planning to end the school year with a bang or two! Do not miss our fabulous super fun Casino Night: James Bond vs. Austin Powers on April 20, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Center. Register soon! And don’t forget to also register for the Free Respite Care from 5:45 PM-9:00 PM, provided by LOPC, less than 5 minutes away.
And finally, please Save the Date for a fun Spring Family Day Resource Fair on May 19, Noon-3:00 PM, at the Twin Canyon Girl Scouts Camp in Lafayette! More details to follow in the coming weeks!
Elsa Troy Slovik,
Happy New Year SEED Friends! May 2018 bring more growth and community to your lives.
I hope you survived and enjoyed a meaningful holiday season.
A big thank you to the Manning Family for hosting a wonderful Holiday Party for SEED. I thoroughly enjoyed kicking back and engaging in meaningful conversations with all of you who came. Another big thank you to Mary Kaye Stephens and her team of volunteers at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church for coordinating a fun respite for our children that night.
We finished our programming last year with a very insightful SEED Parent Forum. While we had many takeaways, here are just some of the highlights of areas we discussed:
You can see the SEED presentation by clicking here.
In December, we also inaugurated our new space for our Monthly Breakfast meetings at the Parlor in Lafayette. It is a cozy private space where SEED brings breakfast for all. We hope that this new space will foster even more sharing and bonding as a group. This new space also opens the door to bite-sized learning. Many breakfasts will feature a speaker covering a topic of interest in 30 minutes. Our first speaker will be Melissa Nolan, a child psychologist and advocate and a usual contributor to SEED. Melissa will guide us through how to create a one page write up on our children that summarizes their profile based on their IEP document.
Do not miss our two upcoming evening programs. Our second annual SEED Movie Night is 6:00 PM on January 26 at Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church. We will be screening and discussing Swim Team, an acclaimed documentary on how a swim team dedicated to autistic kids is having a big impact on a community. I plan on bringing my neurotypical 4th grader as last year’s movie night had a big impact on him. At 5:30 PM on February 6 in the Stanley Middle School Library, advocate Todd Gary will teach us everything we need to know about IEP Collaboration to finish his outstanding 3-part IEP series.
It has been a busy month. SEED Fall Family Day at Sienna Ranch was at capacity. We couldn’t have hoped for a better turnout and a more beautiful day. Families got to bond around a BBQ. Children explored the ranch, did pumpkin crafts, interacted with chickens and goats, rode horses, did archery, went on hayrides and hiked to the fort. This year the event saw the addition of a professional face painter and a group of about 10 teenagers there to enhance the family experience.
SEED, in collaboration with the Springhill Elementary staff and PFC, piloted a day of Diverse Ability Awareness for the first time in the Lafayette School District. All the classrooms received age-appropriate hands-on lessons to experience what it is like to live with specific differences and disabilities. The highlight of the day was the meet and greet with Canine Companions for Independence. Click here for more info on the program. If you would like to champion such a program in your school, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second installment of SEED’s IEP Parent Education Series, “IEP Process & Goals,” was a tremendous success, with 60 parents coming out to hear advocate Todd Gary’s talk on the ins and outs of the IEP process.
The following points were covered in the presentation:
Once again, SEED’s new specialized childcare allowed many families present to attend. We plan to continue offering childcare for the 3rd installment in our IEP series with Todd Gary. This next parent ed on Tuesday, February 6, from 5:30 PM-8:00 PM is called "IEP Collaboration.” Please RSVP for Parent Ed and Childcare by clicking here.
In the meantime, in response to many requests from our members, SEED is organizing and moderating a SpEd Parent Forum for LAFSD families on Thursday, November 30, from 5:30PM-8:00PM.
As always with our evening programming, the first half hour will be dedicated to socializing and refreshments. Whether it is for the parent forum or for the next parent ed, the presentations and discussions will start promptly at 6:00 PM. Please RSVP by clicking here.
Last but not least, it is time to RSVP to SEED Holiday Party on Friday December 8th, at 6:00PM. The respite for children that night will be provided by Mary Kaye Stephens and her fabulous staff of volunteers at Moraga Valley Presbyterian. In my house, we call it Mary Kaye’s Party! To register to the Holiday Party click here, and to register to Mary Kaye’s respite “party”, email Mary Kaye at email@example.com.
On behalf of the SEED Board, I’d like to express how grateful we are for the community response to our programming. We are all volunteers and your presence keeps us going strong. Happy Thanksgiving!
-Elsa Troy Slovik, President
The first installment of SEED’s IEP Parent Education Series, “Help! My Child is Struggling in School” was a tremendous success, with many new parents coming out to hear advocate Todd Gary’s talk on the ins and outs of the special education process.
For details, view the presentation by clicking here.
SEED is happy that its new specialized childcare allowed a third of the families present to attend. We plan to continue offering childcare for the 2nd installment in our IEP series with Todd Gary. This next parent ed on Tuesday, November 7, from 5:30 PM-8:00 PM is called "IEP Process & Goals.” Please RSVP for Parent Ed and Childcare by clicking here. As always with our evening programming, the first half hour will be dedicated to socializing and refreshments. The presentation will start promptly at 6:00 PM.
SEED is happy to announce that we will be funding the upcoming Orton-Gillingham training for the Lafayette School District IST's. Orton-Gillingham is one of the most acclaimed programs for Dyslexia. One in five students, or 15-20% of the population, has a language based learning disability. Dyslexia is the most common of the language based learning disabilities.
Finally, on October 24, SEED in conjunction with the Springhill PFC and the Springhill staff, will be conducting the first pilot of a Diverse Ability Awareness Program with all the students at Springhill Elementary. Click here for details on our programming that day.
I hope to see you at our Fall Family Day at Sienna Ranch on October 22, click here to register.
May you all stay safe through this tragic fire season,
The 2017-2018 SEED Board would like to welcome you to this new school year.
We would like to congratulate Rob Sturm on his recent appointment to the School Board. Rob comes with a solid background in community service. As a lawyer in corporate disability law, he has ramped up quickly in understanding some of the critical pieces of Special Ed. Welcome Rob and thank you for your service!
The new SEED Board has in store a lot of exciting events for this school year. Here are some of the upcoming highlights:
Save the date for:
Be sure to check our website www.seedlafayette.org often for what's going on in the community.
Did you know that:
Thank you for your following and support this year. This is our last newsletter for this school year; we will resume in August.
A huge thank you to all involved in our Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Fundraiser. We not only met our financial goals, but also had lots of fun! A big shout out to our SEED Award Winners for this year: Alissa Levenberg, IST from Burton Valley Elementary, who received our Special Education Advocacy Award, and to Brian Wentzel, from the East Bay Sea Serpents, for his Outstanding Support of the Special Education Community. Their impact in our community is tremendous. To see a list of individual and organizational donors that helped make our event such a success, click here.
Lafayette School District News
- After a strong presentation from Pat Gargiulo at the April School Board Meeting on the State of SpEd in the district, the School Board has finally approved the immediate hiring of a BCBA, "Board Certified Behavior Analyst". This is something that has been discussed for years, and we are thrilled about this step.
- Tomorrow, Monday, June 5, is the last day to complete the District Parent Survey. It includes a Special Ed section. Please click here to complete this survey. This is your opportunity to "provide feedback regarding the special education support your child is receiving."
- Last but not least, thanks to the wonderful Springhill PFC, we are on point to jointly pilot a Diverse Ability Awareness Program at Springhill in October during Red Ribbon. If you are interested in volunteering in the prep stages or on the day of, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEED Community News
- SEED recently helped Sienna Ranch train their staff on how to best work with special needs children. Sienna Ranch is a gem in our community and many local children with special and diverse learning needs participate in their programs from homeschooling, to after-school activities, to camps. They are now better prepared to effectively support them in all their programming.
- Kristen O'Meara is now offering monthly free healing sessions for SEED parents. For more details, click here.
- The SEED Resource Fair at the end of April was a huge success. We had a room full of wonderful organizations and providers with a very broad range of services or offerings for our children and families. Information about the vendors who participated in our Resource Fair can be found on our website by clicking here.
- Do not miss our school year kick off at the SEED Back-to-School Brunch on Friday, September 1, at 9:00 AM. Register for this event by clicking here.
Have a wonderful summer!
Welcome back from Spring break!
We are very grateful to Parents Helping Parents and Temple Isaiah for a very successful Learning Disability Simulation Workshop in March. Once again this unique program drew a full house and everyone left with a new level of understanding of how it feels to live with various learning disabilities. (Be sure to check out the article the East Bay Times wrote about the Simulation by clicking here.)
Though we make our programs available to the public at no charge, there is a cost to SEED, and none of it would be possible without the generous support of our community. We hope many of you will come to our Cinco de Mayo Fundraiser, SEED's major fundraising event. One of the many highlights of our annual fundraiser is our pay-to-play parties, especially the ones for the children. They are an opportunity to sign up your children of all ages to some super fun parties while supporting SEED.
On April 26, do not miss our free Resource Fair. You will find out about and meet many wonderful organizations, services and providers in our area, some well established and some new. For instance, we are quite excited to announce that the amazing Fiddleheads after-school and camp program is opening a new location in Lamorinda/Walnut Creek area and SEED members are the first to know and meet them at our fair.
Now onto some Lafayette School District news:
- SEED recently provided funding to the Early Intervention Program at Burton Valley to acquire equipment and content to incorporate musical activities into their curriculum. Sam Sheldon, EI Coordinator for the District, beautifully acknowledged the impact: "We see our students' faces light up; sparkly eyes and big smiles, when their favorite songs come on, music gains their attention and captures their interest immediately and fully. We love the quote, 'Art and music have the role in education of helping children become more themselves instead of more like anyone else.'"
- At the April 19 School Board Meeting, Pat Gargiulo, Director of Students Services, will present his annual review of the Special Ed program. This is the most critical School Board Meeting for Special Ed parents to attend every year. We hope to see many of you there. The meeting will start at 7:00 PM at the Stanley Middle School Library. The agenda will be published 72 hours in advance here.
Finally, please note that Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church (LOPC) will hold a Respite Night on April 28. Their Respite Nights are free and open to children with disabilities and their siblings in the community at large. My children all love these respite nights. They are the highlight of their week when they happen. The wonderful staff and volunteers who organize them set up a wide range of activities to make them accessible to all. I am very moved and grateful by the passion of the people behind this and other respites in our area. Another Respite Night will be held at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church for the SEED Fundraiser on May 5.
Have a wonderful month!
SEED (Special Education Enrichment Development Foundation) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization run by parent and community volunteers to benefit diverse learners in Lafayette, California.