Spring 2015
In This Issue
Check Out Our New Website
Student Chapters
Are you Interested in starting a CEC Student Chapter?

Do you already have a Student Chapter but want to get more connected with NJCEC and other Student Chapters?
Dr. Lynn DeCapua
Student Chapter Advisor

CEC Representative Assembly Report

     The CEC Representative Assembly met in San Diego on April 10, 2015 during the national convention.  The meeting was attended by the following NJCEC officers: Dr. Julie Norflus-Good, President; Paulette Fox, Representative Assembly Member; and Fatima Ramirez, Treasurer. The Representative Assembly is the membership advisory board of the Council that meets annually during the CEC Convention. The purpose of the Representative Assembly is to identify, discuss, and advise the Board of Directors on positions the Council should take on issues related to the field of special education, related services, and to special education as a profession. The Representative Assembly also examines the impact these issues have on children and youth with exceptional needs and those who serve them.

     The major issues the Representative Assembly focused on this year included deciding what national headquarters, divisions, and chapters can do to successfully support the members.    

Discussions were held to find the needs, wants, and preferences of our members. Some suggestions put forth were to provide a one-stop place for information, access to materials, career information, mentoring, practical strategies, support to implement practices, and networking support. Discussions were also held to focus on current conditions and trends affecting membership.

     Possible solutions to support membership at the division and chapter levels included being accessible to members who need help, providing quality materials and information that is not freely available online, and making sure that divisions work together more effectively.

     As a result of these discussions, NJCEC will be sending out a survey to find out your wants and needs so that we can effectively plan for you. Remember, our ears are open.  Please feel free to contact us!

Look for our survey!

Undergraduate Student of the Year Winner 2015: Mark Bergen, Kean University

From left to right: Karen Jans (NJCEC), Walt Oberwanowicz (Kean University), Mark Bergen (NJCEC,Kean University), Dr. Julie Norflus-Good (President NJCEC), and Fatima Ramirez (NJCEC) at the awards ceremony honoring students at the CEC Conference 2015.

Close Reading and Useful Resources

by Paulette Fox 


     Close reading has become the new buzz word in teaching nowadays. In the last year, I have seen many new books published on this topic. In addition, I have attended several professional development sessions on close reading as well. As a result, I have had the opportunity to try out some of these new books and strategies and find what works best for my students.

     Simply put, close reading involves repeated readings of a short, high quality piece of text. Subsequent readings may focus on word choice, literary devices, text structure, text features, and illustrations. Additionally, writing about the text is also an important aspect of close reading.

     The trainings I have attended have all recommended that the first reading should be done by the teacher. After that, repeated readings can be done individually or in groups. I have found success by splitting my students into small groups and giving each group a different area to focus on when rereading the text. The groups, "graffiti" or write on their copies of the text, and then share with the whole class their responses. This is followed by other groups sharing and the class discussing their agreement or disagreement with the responses. Finally, the students are asked to reflect about the new knowledge they gained from the text in writing.

     My students have benefited most from the "graffiti" activity, sentence frames, question stems, and discussion cards. Furthermore, the following books have also been helpful: Leveled Text-Dependent Question Stems by Debra Housel, Writing is Magic, or Is It? by Mary McMakin and Jennifer Bogard, Close Reading with Paired Text by Lori Oczkus and Timothy Rasinski (available in 4 levels). There are also many resources online that I have found to be useful. These include the following websites: Teachers Pay Teachers, ereadingworksheets.com, Scholastic, Newsela, and readinga-z.com. Finally, if you have money available in your school budget, you may want to purchase subscriptions to Storyworks and Ready Teacher Toolbox (teacher-toolbox.com) as they have many resources available for teaching close reading skills as well.

     I hope you find these resources as helpful as I have in meeting the needs of your students as we all continue to focus on close reading in our classrooms. If you have additional suggestions or comments please let me know. NJCEC would like to provide as many resources as possible for our members. You can email me at paulettefox12@hotmail.com. Happy Teaching!


Meet CEC President Jim Heiden

Career special educator Jim Heiden brings considerable administrative experience to his new role as the president of CEC. As a longtime member of CEC and the Division on Career Development and Transition, Jim has a unique historical view of our organization and a wealth of ideas about what we need to do to re-energize our membership and provide the services, products and support that our members need in an ever-changing educational environment. He shares his thoughts in this Q&A on CEC's new 2015-2017 Strategic Plan and how its member-focus will help build a strong foundation for the future.

Jim Heiden Fast Facts

Jim Heiden, CEC President 

Current job:  Superintendent, School District of Cudahy, Wisconsin

Years as CEC member:  25


  • Ph.D., Urban Education, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 2012
  • M.S.E., Special Education, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, 1989
  • B.S.E., Dual Education, Regular and Special Education, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, 1983

Leadership roles within CEC:

  • Division on Career Development and Transition
    • Acting Treasurer, 2006
    • Past President, 2004
    • President, 2003
    • President-Elect, 2002
    • Vice President, 2001
    • Governor, 1998-2000
  • Wisconsin Council for Exceptional Children, Treasurer, 1993-1998
  • Council for Exceptional Children, Treasurer, 2011-2014

When did you join CEC?

I first joined CEC as a college student at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater.  It was, and still is, an important organization to belong to while you're in college because you have access to resources and people that are absolutely critical to your success in special education. I wasn't very active in my early days, but when I started a job as a transition coordinator, the agency I worked for required me to be a member, and they were impressed that I was already a member of CEC.  With my new transition responsibilities, I decided to join the Division of Career Development and Transition (DCDT).  My focus as a behaviorist led me to the Council for Children with Behavior Disorders (CCBD) and now I've finally become qualified to join the CEC Pioneers Division. 

Is it true that this isn't your first time with the title of president within CEC?

Yes, that's right. I was actually president of the Student CEC back in college, so I guess that was a bit of foreshadowing. 

How did you become involved in CEC? 

I started becoming active with Wisconsin CEC (WCEC) and with national DCDT. I have always been good with numbers, so it was natural for me to take on the role of treasurer for WCEC. The divisions of CEC had, at that time, the position of governor, which was really the main liaison with the national CEC board of directors. But they were transitioning out of that governor title, so I became the last governor for DCDT. 

How has being active in a division shaped your career?

You need people - other professionals - all throughout your career.  When I was starting out, one of the things I was thrilled about in DCDT was how welcome I was made to feel, even though I was a complete rookie. Bob Innacone and Mike Wehmeyer in DCDT took me under their wings and the next thing I knew I was hobnobbing with Gary White and people I was reading about in professional journals.  They were truly the parents and grandparents of transition, and I was shocked to find out that they were not only real people, but they were wonderful, friendly people.  They couldn't have been more supportive of me and it made a world of difference in my career.  It was extremely important to have other professionals who were passionate about the same transition issues as I was. DCDT was a place where I could always find resources or someone willing to talk over a concern or an idea I had.  The people I met at DCDT have been colleagues during my entire career.  I'm still active in DCDT and would recommend membership in a division to all of our members.

You are a few weeks into your role as being the 84th president of CEC. What was your path to leadership? 

After working with DCDT for a number of years, I became the webmaster, which was a good spot for me because I like working behind the scenes. Then, Colleen Thoma, who was then the president of DCDT, called me and said that their treasurer had resigned and would I help?  Colleen's a friend, so, of course I agreed to work to get her through her year as president. So, just when I was looking to return to my role behind the scenes, Colleen called me again.  By that time, she was on the CEC Board of Directors and encouraged me to run for treasurer.

And you agreed to help your friend?

I actually said "no way."  I was working on my Ph.D. and had too many commitments already.

And yet, here you are.

Well, I decided that it would be a great experience and that I could make a contribution, so I ran and was elected treasurer.  I was treasurer for three years and had just been re-elected when we got the terrible news that Jeanette Klingner, who was president elect at that time, was gravely ill.  When she decided to resign her position, CEC was in a tight spot and I decided to step up and throw my hat in the ring. 

So much for being too busy and keeping a low profile.

Right!  It's really more of who I am. I don't think I'm happy unless I'm involved in as many things as I can be. 

Let's talk a little about your current role as a superintendent for Cudahy District Schools. 

I came to Cudahy as director of special services thinking I'd probably only be there for a few years.  That was 18 years ago!  Nine years ago, the superintendent retired and I was asked to become the new superintendent. I have a very supportive school board and administrative team.  My school board president thinks my work with CEC is a great service, not only to the field of special education but to my school district.  I'm lucky to have such a great support system and I'm blessed to have such a supportive team of administrators.

How will your role as superintendent inform your leadership of CEC?

I'm right on the front line with my teachers, so I'll bring not only an administrator's perspective, but the perspective of all of the teachers I'm fortunate enough to work with.  I understand first-hand the importance of high quality professional development.  My teachers are facing numerous challenges and we do whatever we can to help them overcome problems and improve their skills.  To me, the best professional development is the kind that teachers select themselves.  When a teacher comes to me with a new app that works great with his students, and asks to learn more about it or do a webinar, then I know it's valuable to him and worth exploring.  My teachers don't wait to be asked to do professional development, they seek it out and I'm proud of that.  And they share whatever they learn with their peers, which is great. 

How did you get into special education?

Finished my first year of college, and spent the summer trying to find my way.  I applied for a job at the Bethesda Lutheran home in Watertown, Wis., a residential facility for people with disabilities.  I spent that summer my first three months there working on a unit with folks with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. Some of them were very violent and I realized early on that it wasn't the right job for me.  It got me back to college, and when I took my first education class, something just clicked.  And I saw early on that special education was going to be my future.  There was something about working at Bethesda that first summer that made special education make sense.

Wasn't there another great thing that happened when you went back to college that year?

Yes, I proposed to Sue, the love of my life.  We've been married for 30 years.

Was there a resident at Bethesda who made an impression on you?

After I started my education courses, I worked at Bethesda in the summers as a seasonal worker.  I was originally assigned to a children's unit, where I worked with a young man named Paul who had autism and was cognitively disabled.  I worked with him on speech production and actually got him to the point where he could communicate verbally.  For me, and I was just a 19-year-old kid at the time, I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I eventually became Paul's guardian, and worked with him for a couple of years until he passed away.  He was one of those people who have a profound effect on your life when you least expect it.

What's your definition of leadership?

Being the leader of CEC is a huge time commitment, and it can get a little crazy when you add it to the other pieces of your life.  We have a lot going on at CEC - a new strategic plan, some issues that we need to tackle to build our membership.  But, that's when true leadership comes forward, and it's time to step it up.  I'm not one to shy away from a challenge, and I think that will work well for me during my year as president.  I've been fortunate to work with other leaders at CEC who are committed and ready to do whatever it takes for CEC to be around for another 93 years. 

What are you hoping to accomplish in the coming year at CEC?

First off, I want to make sure we stay completely focused on our members and bring as many new special educators as possible into CEC. I can't say strongly enough how important I think it is to belong to CEC.  You may have resources available to you on the internet, but how do you know if it's quality information? CEC is the source of quality information for special educators. CEC is the standard bearer for the field of special education. When I'm hiring special education teachers, I say, "Tell me about your professional organizations."  Even though we do our best to provide professional development, most districts have limited budgets for it.  If I want my special education teachers to stay current, they have to belong to CEC. That also gives me an indication of how involved someone is in their field.  Are they checking out the latest resources?  Do they know the most current practices?  These are all things you get from being a member of CEC.  I want to make sure we're reaching as many special educators as possible with those messages. 

You'll be at the helm during the first year of CEC's new 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.

Yes, and I'm really excited about what's ahead for CEC.  This plan is just right in that it is simple and doable and was created using data and a huge amount of input from a variety of stakeholders.  It's a plan that has the needs of our field and our members at its core.  We'll be working on ways to recruit more special educators into our organization, strengthen the relationship between general education and special education, and work harder to pull all of CEC's state and provincial units and 17 special interest divisions together to provide a wide variety of resources for our members on the national level, the local/state level and within a special interest division. 

Jim Heiden can be reached at

This information is provided by CEC Special Education Today at https://www.cec.sped.org.

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Editor - Christine Van Duyne, Newsletter Editor, Secretary NJCEC 
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