Glenbrook Transition Services present at state and international conferences

Maeve Plunkett, staff reporter

Glenbrook District Transition Services teachers represented their work with transition students at the Illinois Statewide Transition Conference in Chicago, IL and International Transition Conference in Portland, OR on Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 5-7.

Transition students are students with special needs who, rather than receiving a diploma at the end of high school, go into the community to develop skills and meet personal goals up until the age of 22, at which point they will have received their diploma, according to Jennifer Pearson, district director of special education.

“The goal is to give them those skills so that when they do transition to post school, we’ve leveled [the playing field] for them to make them more successful,” Pearson said.

While each student’s goals are specific to their needs, many students work on self advocacy. For example, Amy Hague, a speech language pathologist at South, works with students on their communication skills.

“For some students it’s fine tuning their social interactions or social communication either with peers or working on very specific communication skills in work environments,” Hague said. “So how you ask your boss for help, how you script an email to ask for a day off of work, how you interact with a boss or even interview skills.”

Pearson and Mardi Scott, a transition teacher who works primarily with students at GBN,presented at both conferences but also collaborated with Transition Teacher Julie McDermott on the presentations. According to Pearson, the district’s presentations were very important in leading a movement away from school.

“We really have a unique way of delivering services,” Scott said.”Many of the other schools in our nation deliver it as a program and at the Glenbrooks we tailor it for individuals so […] it doesn’t look the same for any two kids.”

The conference was also a learning opportunity for the Glenbrook teachers who attended to see what other schools and districts are doing with transition students.

“I went to other presentations as well,” Scott said. “The ones that I found really helpful were the research that’s being done at our universities throughout the U.S.”

According to Illinois Transition Conference’s website, the conference in Chicago focused on four tracks: education, employment, community and healthcare. Glenbrook Transition services mold to students’ needs in those areas by having an employment outlet for Transition students, according to Hague.

“We actually have a vocational counselor that our students work with,” Hague said.  “The vocational counselor works very hard with a student’s case manager to pair a business with a student’s specific goal or interest.”

While at the conference in Chicago, the teachers presented to about 55 people according to Scott. In Portland however, it was given in a poster presentation to more people.

“A poster session is when you have a poster with the information and there’s maybe about 10 going on at the same time and participants walk around the room and look at the different posters and […]  they can ask their specific questions,” Scott said. “It’s much more interactive. I actually prefer sharing information that way because it’s more personal.”

The conferences influenced other schools to follow the example set by the Glenbrooks, according to Scott.

“I’ve already gotten two emails from local districts […] that have asked for contact information so they can set up meetings and start to model their services like ours,” Scott said. “So that’s really exciting […] This’ll provide support where we can.”