September 4, 2009
by Marybeth Lauderdale
Upplause for Communication!
Commitment to communication is an important part of our school, especially in these formative first months of the new school year. Our new students are being made to feel at home, and our former students are being welcomed back to their second home. I know this because I’ve seen them, I’ve talked to staff and parents, and I’ve read hundreds of reports!
In an organization like our school, “wraparound” communication is paramount. We achieve this by having all new students meet with social workers once a week. Social workers, educators, and dorm staff all fill out new student weekly reports. Dorm staff correspond with parents of students in their Personal Care groups. Whenever we talk to or email a parent, we fill out parent conference forms. These reports are sent to a central group of people who need to be informed about that student. This system has proved invaluable to providing a quality environment for our students. I read them all. I have seen some wonderful reports, and was able to pick up the issues seamlessly when they came to me. Staff, thank you, and keep up the great writing in these areas!
In addition to these reports, we also have Skyward discipline and grades. Skyward grades are also available for parents to view, via the Internet. We have daily announcements in each school building which are posted on the ISD website, daily, so parents and friends of ISD can be updated on what is happening here. We publish the Illinois Advance, quarterly for even more in depth coverage of ISD activites.
Staff all have access to email, and much information is disseminated that way. Our reading specialist, Allison Fraas, communicates with all educators who are using the Direct Instruction curricula and are part of the research project, and also with teachers of the Accelerated Reader program. All administrative staff and many other staff have pagers. We are able to be in immediate and constant contact about situations, when necessary. All staff can read all Administrative Council notes and reports which are posted on the H Drive, monthly. Many groups within the staff have access to special folders on our server for committees and other intra-ISD functions. We also have phones, voicemail, videophones with videomail, and TTYs.
We are making great strides in communication here on campus, and are doing so with one goal in mind – our commitment to our students at the Illinois School for the Deaf and their right to a high-quality, barrier free education.