April 28 2023 Front and Center Welcome to the CDHD quarterly newsletter

Getting to know Idaho SESTA

If you're not familiar with the full scope of the Idaho SESTA project, you'd be forgiven. It's huge, and it's providing invaluable support and service to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) across Idaho!

So, what exactly is SESTA?

SESTA stands for Special Education Support and Technical Assistance. It’s a collaborative project between the University of Idaho and Boise State University. It’s funded by the Idaho State Department of Education (ISDE), Special Education Department. The project assists the ISDE by supporting all districts across the state. Idaho SESTA provides information, resources, technical assistance and professional development to educators and stakeholders to improve outcomes for students with disabilities in Idaho. 

Simply put, SESTA improves education experiences and environments for students with disabilities and behavioral challenges by providing support to educators. 

The Project offers the flexibility for LEAs to access the type and level of support they need. Using this framework, SESTA provided more than 100 trainings and events and 439 technical assistance and coaching sessions through the 2021-22 school year. The Project reached more than 3000 educators across Idaho.

In the first half of 2023 alone, SESTA has offered Tier 1 and 2 support to 173 LEAs. That includes nearly 1000 educators receiving the information, resources and short-term training they need to improve student outcomes. As for Tier 3, SESTA has provided long-term training and support to 27 LEAs (129 Idaho educators) so far.

To learn more about this incredible project, check out:

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Visit the Idaho SESTA website to learn more about the depth and of this project.

Visit our website
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Explore resources available to every LEA, educator and family member.

View our resources
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Get all the details about SESTA's achievements so far this school year.

Read our report

2023 Deaf-Blind

Summer Institute

The 2023 Deaf-Blind Summer Institute will be on June 22-23 in Boise. Registration is open now!

It will be the first in-person Summer Institute in three years. Get the details and hear from Dr Lane McKittrick on what makes this a must-attend event.

Read more
Gwyn McCormack profile picture
Yvonne Wright is smiling and looking at the camera. She is sitting outside and wearing a floral dress.

Happy retirement, Yvonne Wright!

Yvonne Wright retired from the CDHD after 26 years! Often the first point of contact for the Center, she was an invaluable member of the team.

Find out about Yvonne's time at the Center and her plans for her well-earned retirement.

Read more

2023 Tools for Life


Tools for Life 2023 drew record student attendance!

It also saw some new additions to ensure we provide relevant and innovative resources to help students with disabilities in their transition to life after high school. 

View our report
Group shot taken in the hotel conference center of all the attendees at Tools for Life. They are all sitting at large tables.

Welcome, new staff!

We'd like to welcome all our new staff members who joined us over the last quarter! 

Lisa Martello

Regional Professional Development Specialist

IdahoSTARS, Boise

Kim Riesberg

Childcare Resource Specialist

IdahoSTARS, Boise

Amie Aasen-Quesnell

Administrative Support Specialist III

CDHD, Moscow

Mark Sweeney

Financial Specialist III

CDHD, Moscow

Stacee Dineen

Special Education Statewide Instructional/Behavioral Coordinator

IdahoSTARS, Region 2

Checking in with our student trainees
Four young women who are student trainees posing for a photograph with the Capitol building in the background. All four are smiling.

February was a busy month as we all geared up for Tools for Life 2023. The event took place in Boise this year, which saw a number of us student trainees – including myself – making the trip to provide conference support.

Boise bound and back!

By Kellie Matern, CDHD student trainee

Not only did we attend Tools for Life, but we also got to take a Capitol tour and visit the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities, Southwest Idaho Treatment Center, Lotus Tree and Northwest Neurobehavioral Health (NNH).

Julia Bailey, Victoria Rae, Maddie Coleman and I presented at Tools for Life on “Moving your way” which empowers people with disabilities to move however they can. We did two adaptive movement classes and a 50-minute presentation on exercise. In total, we worked with around 100 students and got people moving.

“The adaptive movement classes were a hit! We shared a lot of smiles and laughs with the students as we listened to some great music and got our bodies moving. Tools for life has been the highlight of my experience working at the CDHD!”, said Julia.

During the trip, we were also able to go to the Lotus Tree Occupational Therapy Clinic, which was such a cool experience. The work they do helps children with disabilities hit vital milestones in their development. We spoke with some amazing women who helped us understand how they help so many children achieve their goals.

Maddie commented, “As an exercise science major, I must say that I have never experienced a clinic like Lotus Tree. They showed me what therapy can look like and how holistic and engaging it can be. I loved to see the care and support that clearly runs through the staff network, as well as the devotion to the craft and the patients.”

Some trainees were able to visit the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center, including Kelsey Miler, who said, “During our tour, we met some of the residents who were kind and excited to meet us. They all filled the room like a ray of sunshine. This was my favorite memory of the trip.”

We also went to the NNH clinic and spoke with a psychologist who talked about what it’s like to work with kids with disabilities. He discussed how the clinic helps diagnose autism and the need for more clinics like this.

Fellow trainee, Alena Ramkissoon said, “My favorite part of the trip was visiting NNH. I learned about Dr Hall's personal trajectory, his work at the clinic, and the children and families he works with ... it inspired me when it comes to my education and career goals. I also gained interest in pursuing a PsyD degree in clinical psychology – an area I was never exposed to before this trip.”

Overall, the experience was so amazing and a wonderful way to learn about different career paths to help people with disabilities. 

Find out more about the CDHD student trainee program:

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Get more information about our program, including how students can apply.

Visit our Website
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There are many benefits to becoming a student trainee – here are our top eight.

Check out our list


Grace Vitek!

Student trainee Grace Vitek was recently awarded Student Employee of the Year at the University of Idaho Student Achievement Awards.

Nominated by Interdisciplinary Training Coordinator Olivia Lebens, Grace has continually shown outstanding initiative while working on the Vandal QUEST and Self-Advocates Moscow projects.

She also received the Outstanding Junior of the Year award.  

Olivia and Grace stand together and smile for the camera. Grace is holding her two awards.
A group of trainees pose with Olivia Lebens in front of the 1912 Center on the night of the artAbility Showcase

artAbility Showcase 2023

The 2023 artAbility Showcase was on April 17 at Moscow's 1912 Center. The event was a success, with more than 160 attendees. This included artists, family, friends and community members.

20 artists were featured, showing 55 art pieces. 24 of those pieces were sold. Participants also performed a musical piece on the drums called Fruit Salad and Mary's Berries. The performance was led by students from the University of Idaho Lionel Hampton School of Music.

For those who couldn't attend, please feel free to visit our Digital Showcase to view the art and get to know the featured artists.

Mark your calendar


May 13-17:

UI Spring Commencement

(Moscow, Boise, Idaho Falls)

May 26:

Enrollment opens for ITC summer courses

May 29:

CDHD closed in observance of Memorial Day


June 19:

CDHD closed in observance of Juneteenth

June 22-23

Deaf-Blind Summer Institute


June 24:

Marvin Story Time Show


June 30:

Enrollment closes for ITC summer courses


July 4:

CDHD closed in observance of Independence Day

a group of flowers in yellow red and blue


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