Siena Heights, Lenawee ISD Partner for Special Education Classroom
Siena Heights University (SHU) and the Lenawee Intermediate School District (LISD) Adult Transition Support Services (ATSS) program have partnered together to open a special education classroom on Siena Heights’ campus. On Thursday, October 5th, SHU and the LISD hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new partnership.
ATSS is a program for post-secondary students (age 18-26) who receive special education services. The goal of ATSS is to develop sustainable independence through purposeful programming that is specific to the needs of each student. Programming is based on volunteerism, daily living skills, communication skills, and community involvement. These activities and experiences aid students in gaining independence in their homes and communities.
“This program has been a goal for many years, and this type of partnership is a rare opportunity across the state,” said Jody Howard, Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Strategic Initiatives. “We are excited by the early engagement and involvement by Siena Heights University staff and students, and we look forward to building on that momentum.”
The new partnership will allow students with disabilities to integrate into a college campus environment, allowing for greater and more meaningful peer-to-peer interaction. This partnership also enhances diverse opportunities for the university students by promoting awareness, collaboration, and community partnerships. This initiative reflects the Adrian Dominican tradition of supporting and connecting with community, as well as the University mission of “…assisting people to become more component, purposeful, and ethical through a teaching and learning environment which respects the dignity of all.”
Dr. Carrie Mitchell, Chair of the Special Education Department at SHU, said, “This has been a longtime vision for both entities. Through this collaboration, a mutually beneficial partnership has been established. Strategically designed to implement data-driven decisions and research-based instruction, this program is being established as a model for best practices in transition programming for the students and as a model for teacher candidates to implement and practice transition-based teaching.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony consisted of hors d’oeuvres, introductions and recognition, and speeches from Dr. Douglas Palmer, Siena Heights University’s President, and Mark Haag, the superintendent of the LISD. In addition, Kurt Kominek, a supervisor for the LISD, spoke on what LISD ATSS at SHU looks like now, and what it will become in the future. Following the ribbon-cutting, a tour of SHU was provided for students and families.
“Our emphasis in this program is social-emotional learning and growth,” said Joel Musielewicz, a LISD ATTS teacher at Siena Heights. “To practice these skills with age-like peers in a natural college setting is a gift to these students and is something very much needed in our world today. Every student has their own individualized needs, and we can cater to those needs through the curriculum.”
The LISD also operates an ATSS classroom at The HOPE Center, which focuses more on community resources and recreation, as well as a classroom in a house on the LISD TECH Center campus, which is designed to build life skills for greater independence.