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ESE Department News

Annual Transition Planning Parent Advisory Meeting

As of 1997, federal law mandates that students with disabilities who have an IEP (Individual Education Plan) must begin a process called transition planning at age 14.  This program is designed to connect students with the proper transition planning services that give them the important skills and career planning tools to better prepare them for a successful life after high school, whether it be in a college setting or in the community.

As a method of ensuring parents and students are informed, on October 2, 2018 at Fullerwood Training Center, the Parent Advisory Committee brought together SJCSD ESE Transitions and community-based organizations to support students that are beginning or already involved in transition planning.

SJCSD Transitions Programs:  Life Work and Project Search, The ARC, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and Project 10 all shared pertinent information for parents, students, teachers and administrators. Parents and students left with additional knowledge about transition planning services in SJCSD schools and community. If you missed this event and would like to know more, you can access the presentations on the ESE Advisory Council web page.

Donate Your Gently Used Hearing Aids

Did you know that there are almost 150 deaf or hard of hearing students in St. Johns County Schools? Many of these students wear hearing aids daily to help them hear and learn. Hearing aids are very expensive and often not covered by health insurance. This is why St. Johns County Schools is proud to have partnered with Lend An Ear, a local non-profit organization, that provides the gift of hearing by furnishing quality hearing aids to those with limited or no means in an atmosphere of dignity and compassion.

You can help our deaf and hard of hearing students by donating your gently used hearing aids today. You can drop off hearing aids at the St. Johns County School District Office at 40 Orange St., St. Augustine, Fl. 32084 or at a site near you.

Please check the Lend An Ear website for additional drop off locations near you. All donations are tax deductible! Thank you so much for supporting this wonderful organization & the deaf/hard of hearing students in St. Johns County.

Drop off locations are listed on the Lend An Ear website.

Phone: 904-241-HEAR or 904-241-4327
E-mail: [email protected]

October 25 was the Lend An Ear gala where the SJCSD was presented with another eight sets of hearing aids valued at $35,000 – $40,000! On September 28, they donated three sets of hearing aids and hundreds of hearing aid batteries valued at $20,000-$25,000. Thanks to Scott Hetzinger, Executive Director of Lend An Ear and Sonia Howley, ESE Program Specialist, for getting this program off the ground for the benefit of our deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Disability Employment Awareness Awards

The World Golf Village Renaissance Resort, St. Augustine, home to the St. Johns County School District’s Project SEARCH site was honored as an exceptional employer for adults with disabilities by Florida Ability Works. Byron Pennington, Project SEARCH instructor, represented the hotel and school district at the ceremony on October 4 in Tallahassee, which was hosted by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Division of Blind Services. Florida was designated as an Employment First State with the intent to raise expectations that employment should be prioritized for individuals with disabilities and to change systems to better support integrated employment.

The St. Johns County School District Project SEARCH site had a 100 percent employment rate with the nine student-interns at the end of their first year and are starting strong into year two with eight student interns who are already making great progress and assimilating nicely into the hotel environment.

**Pictured here is Byron Pennington, Project SEARCH instructor


Project Search

Project SEARCH and the new 2018-2019 interns are back in action at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort. Now in their second week of orientation, the interns have undergone numerous team building activities and hands on training in several different departments. They have also had intensive instruction that covers self-advocacy, communication, task analysis and the different department roles and responsibilities. Toward the end of this week and into next week the interns will be transferring what they’ve learned so far in their orientation weeks and begin shadowing different department employees, supervisors and managers. Soon after, everyone will be placed into their first of three internships. We could not be more proud of our group of interns this year and we can’t wait to celebrate all their future successes!

*Pictured here are the new 2018-2019 Project SEARCH Interns with The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort’s managers and supervisors.*

ESE Parent Advisory Committee Meeting

St. Johns County School District, Exceptional Student Education welcomes Nata Salvatori, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, FAAOMPT and Sarah Lahey, PhD, for a discussion on “Concussion and the Impact on Learning: A Team Approach.” The meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 4, 2018, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Fullerwood Training Center located at 10 Hildreth Drive, St. Augustine, FL 30284. For more information, please view the flyer for the event.


Exceptional Student Education Update

Spring was an exciting time for all involved with the St. Johns County School District Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) program. With a generous donation from the St. Augustine Lion’s Club, fun and enriching activities were held for all DHH students and their families.

  • The 3rd Annual “Deafinition” competition was a great success. The competition is a family event for middle and high school students to show off their vocabulary knowledge.  Students prepare all year for this vocabulary bee and, in doing so, enhance their vocabulary and language skills across curriculum areas.  This year, 24 DHH students participated in the competition.  Gift cards were awarded to the first and second place winners.  We are proud of all who participated.
  • On April 22, the annual DHH picnic was held for families and students across the county.  This year’s theme was “Fun Run” which included an obstacle course, games, water activities and a song signing competition for St. Johns County School District American Sign Language programs.  This is not just celebration of students, but a positive way for families who have children with hearing loss to connect and support each other.

ESE Parent Advisory Committee Presentation on April 3rd




Date/Time: 4/3/18 from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Location: Fullerwood Training Center – 10 Hildreth, St. Augustine, FL 32084

GOAL: To provide interventions and strategies to parents of students with disabilities that will assist students in developing resiliency skills and attitudes, which will enable them to persist in the face of adversity.

The purpose of the committee is to provide input to district staff regarding our ongoing effort to continuously improve services for students with disabilities.  Parents, Educators, Administrators, and Business Representatives are invited and encouraged to attend.

Guardianship Presentation on March 6

On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, at 6:00pm, guest speaker Stephen Furnari will give a presentation on the topic of guardianship at the Fullerwood Training Center located at 10 Hildreth Drive in St. Augustine. Stephen Furnari is a Florida attorney and the founder of The presentation is titled “Guardianship: How to Best Protect Your Child When He or She Turns 18” and will cover:

  • Why you need to consider guardianship if your child has a developmental disability
  • 8 alternatives to guardianship parents use in Florida
  • The benefits and risks of guardianship and its alternatives

Parents, educators, administrators and business representatives are all invited to attend. This event is provided by the ESE Parent Advisory Committee of St. Johns County School District.

ESE Parent Advisory Committee Meetings

The Parent Advisory Committee is composed of parents, educators, administrators, business representatives, and other interested community members concerned with the education of students with disabilities. The purpose of the committee is to provide information to parents and input to district staff regarding our ongoing effort to continuously improve services for students with disabilities.

Topic:  Raising Struggling Learners to Be Successful, Durable, and Resilient
Presenter:  Edward C. Taylor, Ph.D., Child and Adolescent Psychologist
Date/Time:  April 3 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 pm
Location:  Fullerwood Training Center – 10 Hildreth Drive St. Augustine, FL 32084

The Gifted Parent Advisory Council (GPAC) meets four times per year to inform the school district about ways in which we can improve our efforts in serving our gifted students. Information about giftedness and ways to help our gifted students are presented at these gatherings. Parents of K-12 gifted students from throughout the district are encouraged to come to the meetings.

The GPAC meeting schedule is as follows:

Thursday, February 15 Bartram Trail High School 6:30-8 p.m. Media Center
Tuesday, April 17 Nease High School 6:30-8 p.m. Media Center

Facilitated IEP Training for Parents on 1/16


Florida Diagnostic Learning Resources Services (FDLRS)
North East Florida Educational Consortium (NEFEC)

Topic: Facilitated IEP Training for Parents
Date/Time: 1/16/18 from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Location: Fullerwood Training Center – 10 Hildreth, St. Augustine, FL 32084

GOAL: In an effort to provide parents of ESE students with trainings to increase their ability to actively participate and collaborate with a comprehensive school team, a facilitated IEP training for parents will be provided.