North Penn Special EDition
Volume 2 Issue: #1November 2015
In This Issue


North Penn High School Special Educator

Sharon Dummeldinger honored by former student on APlus Positive Journalism website created by TV/ Movie Star, Ashton Kutcher.

Introducing the Inclusion SharePoint 

The Inclusion SharePoint is a resource for teachers to exchange accommodations, modifications, and teaching strategies.  The site is divided into elementary and secondary sub-sections with folders for each content area and grade level or subject.  Please check out the great resources our special education teachers have begun sharing by clicking here.
When accessing the site, remember that there is no "one size fits all" approach to accommodations and modifications.  The materials you download may need to be tailored to the individual needs of your students.   
A special thanks to contributors Maria Stratton, Kate Hagan, Treena Sadler, Chrissy Kelly, Deb Hunter, and Jackie Giammarco for starting the library by generously sharing their personal resources.  Please note - this site is only accessible to North Penn School District teachers through district log-in.
Resource of the Month: 
Book Builder

This is an online FREE tool for educators that allows you to create your own e-books.  You can copy and paste existing text
or create your own.  This resource allows you to insert images, add "coaches" to prompt students, create a glossary,  and add student response areas.  You may search existing e books and publish your own to the CAST library.  There is even a translator icon!  Sign up for your free Book Builder account by clicking here.


Accommodations and Modifications:

Show Me How!


The terms "accommodations" and "modifications" are often used interchangeably but are two distinct things.   Accommodations may be thought of as changing how a student is accessing material or demonstrating what they know or can do, while a modification changes what a student learns or performs.  Use modifications sparingly.  Always attempt to modify your instruction before modifying content. 


  Click here for the training presentation provided to special educators on accommodations, modifications, and "essentialization," or the breaking down of standards to the most salient points.

Director's Corner: 
The Myth of the Average Student 

The recent cover of  Ed Magazine piqued my interest.  It questioned, "Where do you find an average student?"  The reply in the sub-heading plainly answered:  "You don't."  Here in North Penn, we see increasing diversity in our classrooms related to ability, race, culture, and socioeconomic background.  Did you know that according to our October 2015 enrollment data...
  • Nearly 30% of students in the district are considered economically disadvantaged ?
  • 16% of students in North Penn have an IEP ?
  • Five schools have an active ESL population of greater than 5%? 
  • Three of our elementary schools have greater than 50% diverse students?
  • Five schools have mobility rates greater than 5%?
  • More than 100 new students with existing IEPs moved in to the district during the summer of 2015?
There is no such thing as the "average" student anymore, but was there ever?  We have always had students on the margins of what we may have once considered "average" or "the norm" in North Penn.  Diversity is the new norm.   So when we ask why students who don't speak English, students with disabilities, or students with interrupted educations are in our classrooms now, the answer is simple.  They live here.

This issue of the Special EDition focuses on how to meet the needs of our students who are "Beyond Average."  These exceptional students need exceptional educators.  Are you up to the task?

Jenna Mancini Rufo
Director of Special Education and Student Services

Want to access this text in a different way?  Click here to have the text read to you on Book Builder.                              
Presume Competence
Stephanie Douglas
Multiple Disabilities Support Teacher, Walton Farm

To an outside observer, my classroom may look and sound quite different t han the typical classroom. Machines beep, children rock, nurses check tubes, and everyone makes noise. When I look into my classroom, I see children who have already fought battles in their short lives that none of us will ever truly understand. While they may not necessarily "look" like they are capable of learning, I believe they can and will learn. The incredible students in my classroom are an inspiration to us all.
Read on
to learn how Stephanie exposes her students to core curriculum.
Strategies for ELL Students
Marilyn Loeffler
ESL Coach

Imagine getting on a plane with your family and finding out that you are the only people speaking English! At first you might be curious and excited to hear the new language and try to figure out what the other passengers are saying. However, after a couple of hours, you would tire of this "game" and probably give up. Our ESL students face this every day. Not only is it exhausting to try to learn a new language, but also learn a new educational system.  Keep reading... 
Different, Not Less
Laura Woods
Autistic Support Teacher, Pennbrook Middle School

My position is an Autistic Support Case Manager for students in 7th-9th   grades at Pennbrook Middle School.   While all of my students have autism, they represent the spectrum as they vary greatly in their needs and abilities. Some take the PASA, while others take the PSSA. Some need four sensory breaks to get through the day successfully, while others only need one.  Some have severe cognitive deficits, yet others are gifted. Some require behavior plans to be successful in a general education classroom, but others are rule followers who have trouble understanding how a rule could ever be flexible. Temple Grandin, a college professor and author, would say that my students are "different not less".
Teaching Kids First
Sam Feeney
Guidance Counselor, North Penn High School

In the fall of 2008 I was looking forward to a new year of teaching English, especially because I had just finished my Master's in School Counseling and was excited about the impact my newfound perspective would have on my students.  However, I was given an opportunity to take a grant-funded position three weeks into the year and jumped at the chance to work with students in a small-group setting. Read on to learn about Sam's experience working with students from diverse backgrounds.   
A Meeting Place for Learning  
Cheryl Neubert
Reading Specialist, North Penn High School

In my lifetime before my own children, I taught elementary school children- first graders to be exact. Upon returning to the classroom, I was surprised to learn that I love teaching high school students! Maybe it was the experiences I had with my own children growing up as teenagers, but I found my niche as a Reading teacher at the high school.   Click here to read more...
New Kids on the Block...


There are many new faces in the Special Education and Student Services department.  We are pleased to welcome so many talented educators to our team. Click here to meet your new colleagues!

The Special Education and Student Services Department has recently launched a new website.  Visit us on the web to learn more.

North Penn School District | 401 E. Hancock Street | Lansdale | PA | 19446