Spring Newsletter
Classroom Spotlight: Riverside Elementary School – Grants Pass, OR

We are delighted to feature the PALS Program from Riverside Elementary School in Grants Pass, OR as our Classroom Spotlight for this issue of the OrPATS Newsletter! The PALS (Personal Academics and Life Skills) Program at Riverside is split into two classrooms, taught by special educators Justine Marsh and Ashley Rocha, along with several dedicated paraprofessional staff. This program utilizes the STAR Program as their primary curriculum, incorporating both 1:1 evidence-based instruction, as well as, small group and large group learning. They also include other evidence-based strategies and programs, such as elements from the TEACCH model and the Edmark Reading Program.

The PALS Program at Riverside has evolved significantly over the years. SPED Director Kirk Kolb (now the superintendent for the Grants Pass School District) first established the PALS Program in 2014 after witnessing a large influx of students with ASD and limited functional skills from local EI/ECSE programs. “He has been a huge support to our classroom…helping us have the materials and staff numbers to be successful,” says Justine. Initially, PALS began as one classroom, but eventually grew into two classroom spaces run by Justine. Ashley started as a PALS teacher during the 2017-18 school year, and now the two classrooms are run separately by both teachers. The PALS team also includes: Kirby Erickson (Autism Specialist), who has dedicated many hours to setting up the classroom for success; Deborah Collins (Speech and Language Pathologist), who establishes core vocabulary lessons and augmentative communication systems for students; Rebeccah Bieri (Occupational Therapist), who has been a resource for meeting sensory needs as a method of addressing challenging behavior; and, of course, a group of dedicated paraprofessionals! “I have an amazing group of assistants who work very hard,” says Justine. This team has strongly advocated for appropriate resources for their students, which has led to the construction of separate DT “rooms” in each classroom, a blocked-off area for PRT, more consistent staffing, and a fenced-in playground directly outside of both rooms. “I arrived at the model I have today from the support of classroom specialists and the trainings and guidance I have received from several OrPATS staff,” says Justine.

Currently, this program serves 16 students in total between the two classrooms. All students have an ASD eligibility, and most of them are still learning functional communication skills, as well as, the pivotal skills necessary for succeeding in a classroom environment. Students are split between the two rooms based on academic level, functional skills, and need for sensory input. Justine’s class currently has ten students ranging from kindergarten to 4 th grade, and Ashley’s class has six students ranging from kindergarten to 5 th grade. Justine and Ashley have worked closely together to create a unique schedule that allows for some students to move back and forth between classrooms, based on academic need. Their daily schedule utilizes rotations (15-20 minutes long) to include two DT sessions and one PRT session per student, as well as opportunities to generalize skills during independent work, small group instruction, and functional routines throughout the day.

The PALS Program invites peer volunteers into the classroom, as well. Justine pairs third, fourth, and fifth grade students from Riverside with a PALS student to spend time with throughout the year, encouraging social skill practice and opportunities for independence. These helpful peers often ask to sit with PALS students during lunch and volunteer to help the classrooms during school-wide activities. Justine and Ashley also work closely with parents, sending daily communication notebooks back and forth, sharing community supports and resources, and creating social stories and visual supports for home use. Justine aligns her IEP goals with STAR lessons and finds the STAR Learning Profile to be a helpful visual for families during IEP meetings to highlight growth in each curricular area. Commenting on her involvement with OrPATS, she shares, “I have loved all of the OrPATS support I have received over the last five years. I love that STAR is evidence-based and really does work! I have seen so much growth with all of my students. Some of them I have had for five years and they are doing things I never thought I would see them do in elementary school.” 
New Autism Consultant/Specialist Training
The OrPATS Project, in collaboration with the Oregon Regional Programs and the Oregon Department of Education, offered this 2 Part, 4 Day training and had over 35 participants from all regions of the state!
This year's training welcomed new or newer regional and district ASD Consultant/Specialists, Special Education Teachers, School Psychologists, Speech/Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists. Participants focused on autism characteristics, the Oregon eligibility procedures and functional communication during the November training. Our February dates were rescheduled due to inclement weather conditions, but part 2 recently concluded on April 22 & 23, 2019 and for this 2 Days, participants focused on evidence-based practices, positive behavior supports, transition planning, visual supports and instructional coaching. The opportunity to have staff join together for training and collaboration is always appreciated and we want to thank everyone who joined us as well as those who assisted with planning and preparation for this annual event!
Training for Oregon Child Care Providers
OrPATS Child Care Provider Workshops

Our OrPATS Trainers have been busy already this year with workshops for child care providers who work with children with autism and other developmental disabilities. 
We have hosted workshops in:
August 2018-Eugene, OR
September 2018-Portland, OR
January 2019-Portland, OR 
February 2019-Hillsboro, OR
March 2019-LaGrande, OR
March 2019-Salem, OR
The workshops are free of charge. The training shares practical methods for child care centers to use immediately with their children. Each center receives a set of visual supports and a subscription to the STAR Media Center (includes Themes First! and Routine Essentials). The workshops include lecture, demonstrations of specific methods, video examples and hands-on practice. The Child Care workshops are being held in each of the following regions: Columbia, NWRESD, Cascade, Central, Willamette, Southern, Lane and Eastern.
Upcoming workshops:
April 2019-Medford, OR
May 2019-Eugene, OR
May 2019-Albany, OR
June 2019-Bend, OR
For more information visit www.orpats.org    
 OrPATS Webinars Available

Participants who attend a workshop offered by OrPATS will receive a link to a follow-up webinar. Look for an email with login information after attending an OrPATS workshop.
OrPATS Workshop Update
& ASD Self-Assessment Support

A big THANK YOU goes out to all of your regions/districts that hosted workshops so far this school year! 
OrPATS Workshop are all scheduled and posted for the remainder of the 2019 School Year and we do still have some opportunities for you or someone you work with. 
Check out the website at www.orpats.org  for detailed information on opportunities as well as how to register!

As this school year comes to a close and your classroom/district/region is getting reflecting on this year and beginning planning for the Fall, remember that OrPATS is also available to facilitate the use of the Oregon Self-Assessment. If your program or district is interested in conducting the self-assessment, contact the OrPATS trainer in your region for more information ( www.orpats.org ). 
Online General Education Training Modules Available
The OrPATS Project can provide school district staff with access to a series of on-line training modules designed for general education teachers. The modules include information on how to assist students with autism that are included in general education classrooms. There are four modules for elementary teachers and another four modules for secondary teachers. To obtain login information to view the modules or to request logins for general education teachers in your school district, click on the following link and complete the form provided.

Visit an OrPATS Training Site 

Educators are encouraged to schedule a visit to one of the many OrPATS Training sites throughout the state. To schedule a visitation, go to the OrPATS website and review the map of Oregon for contact information for each of the training sites.  
OrPATS Staff
About OrPATS
The Oregon Program Autism Training Sites and Support (OrPATS) project brings evidence-based practices to Oregon schools throughout the state. More than 40 training sites have been established in Oregon public schools in each region of the state and across all grade levels.
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