North Penn Special EDition
Volume 4 Issue #1                                                                             October 2017

Director's Corner:
Better to Light a Candle...

This summer, a team of 34 educators from North Penn received a grant to attend the Syracuse University Summer Leadership Institute on Inclusion.  North Penn's team of special educators, general education teachers, reading specialists, ESL teachers, principals, supervisors and directors, joined hundreds of participants from both national and international circles to learn more about inclusive education.  The theme of the conference was, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness," and focused on how to use student strengths to leverage positive outcomes.

In reflecting on the theme of lighting a candle, it occurred to me that many of the institutionalized practices we employ in special education "curse the darkness. " This is nobody's fault -   we are required by law to label and classify students by disability and the corresponding support needed.   But, what if a document followed me around listing all of my deficits?  The needs in Dr. Jenna Rufo's IEP might look something like this:
  • Procrastinates when presented with a non-preferred task
  • Leaves dirty coffee cups and trash in car (she DOES know how to clean it)
  • Runs late to meetings despite her best intentions
  • Sensory processing needs - overwhelmed in loud, crowded environments
  • Low tolerance for her children's whining
  • Can be impatient and bossy

Well, you get the picture...

The point is that when we define individuals by their weaknesses, we are presented with an incomplete picture that fails to recognize the potential inherent in their unique gifts.  This installment of the Special EDition focuses on educators in North Penn who embody the idea of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.  Some of the individuals featured have been in education for decades while others have just started out.  Regardless, everyone featured focuses on what they and their students CAN do, rather than what they can't.  They are true "lights" for North Penn.  

Jenna Mancini Ruf o, Ed.D.
Director of Special Education and Student Services

Lighting the Candle

Do you know someone with a consistently positive, can-do attitude who "lights the candle" instead of "cursing the darkness?" If so, nominate them by clicking here and they may be featured in a future edition.   

Accommodation and Modification Quiz:   
Answer Correctly and Win a Beverage!

To accommodate or modify - that is the question...Accommodations and modifications are terms that are often used interchangeably but have distinct differences.  Complete the accommodation and modification quiz correctly and you will be entered to win a free beverage of your choosing (alcohol-free of course!).
Reflections from Syracuse

Several participants in the Syracuse Summer Leadership share their insights and what it means to them to "light a candle instead of curse the darkness."  Click here to read more.
Welcome New Special Education & Student Services Staff

The North Penn School District is thrilled to welcome a group of talented professionals to the special education and student services team.  We invite you to read about your new colleagues and the many gifts they bring to North Penn!   

Neurodiversity: Building on Strengths
In Educational Leadership, Thomas Armstrong reflects on neurodiversity, a strengths-based approach to education.  Click here to read the full story.