April 19, 2002

Editor : Karin Tomervik

Enjoy Spring!

President's Message

Over the past two years, my frame of reference as a work coordinator has expanded beyond my students and Anoka-Hennepin District #11 to include statewide issues. Serving as the MnACTE/SNP president has forced me to consider concerns and initiatives that involve the betterment of my profession. As the climate surrounding education in Minnesota has taken on a progressive decline, a struggle to maintain adequate funding has left districts with painful decisions. Teachers are being cut, and the effects of underfunded education have begun to strike at our programs. Many coordinators have been asking advice and searching for solutions to prospective cuts. As a professional organization, MnACTE/SNP has been proactive with this issue in getting the state standards and measures to membership with the intent that they be used to support quality programs. It is our hope that their use as a self-assessment tool with administrators will provide a resource through which your programs will be improved and/or preserved. The following are some suggestions/ideas that you may find helpful if faced with proposed cuts.

  1. Use the state standards and measures to provide evidence of quality programming and what is expected by the state of Minnesota.
  2. Get support from parents and employers you work with, and document time spent developing and maintaining job sites. Many administrators do not understand our position, and we need to inform them.
  3. Express the importance of the IEP as a legal document. If needs are stated in the Transition areas of Jobs and Job Training or Post Secondary Education and Training, a qualified person must be available to provide services.
  4. The purpose of the Vocational Seminar is to relate experiences students have on the job to classroom instruction. Adequate time must be available to coordinate sites so quality instruction can occur.
  5. While this is more of a long term solution, market your program within your community. Publish articles featuring student successes and employer contributions to these successes. Hold employer banquets and awards ceremonies. It's difficult to cut something that is valued and in demand.
  6. Contact Tom Strom at CFL and inform him of your district's intentions if cuts are on the table. He has heard from several coordinators already and is collecting data for building a case to strengthen state requirements for Work Experience Programs.
    tom.strom@state.mn.us or phone at (651) 582-8448

Administrators must be informed that a decision to increase caseloads and/or decrease coordination time is counterproductive. As cuts are made, we move toward establishing work release programs. This would leave your district vulnerable to potential lawsuits. Sites will go unvisited, and dangerous situations will go unnoticed. If you would like to talk further about issues surrounding contraction of your program, please feel free to contact me.

Steve Czech
MnACTE/SNP President
Transition Plus
403 Jackson St., Suite 206
Anoka, MN 55303

(763) 506-7621



The NAVESNP Executive Board met December 11-12, 2001 in New Orleans at the ACTE Convention. President Dennis Moore submitted a written report summarizing the board's activities since July 1, 2001. Results of these activities include:

  • development of the 2001-2002 program of work;
  • appointing an acting secretary;
  • collecting information from focus group sessions;
  • soliciting nominations for and selecting award recipients;
  • coordinating the conference program with the ACTE Special Needs Division;
  • soliciting, reviewing, editing and publishing submissions to Newsnotes and the NAVESNP Journal;
  • developing a new process for creating covers for the NAVESNP Journal; and
  • preparing for the upcoming legislative session and legislative reauthorizations.

President-Elect, Terry Bohannon, announced candidates for vacancies on the 2002-3 board:

  • Region III VP Elect: Melanie Fagert, Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Technology Education at Indian State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.
  • Secretary: John Hodge, Principal for KY Tech &endash; Harrison County Area Technology Center in Cynthiana, Kentucky.
  • President-Elect: Carol Wagner Williams, Commission on Certification of Work Adjustment and Vocational Evaluation Specialists (CCWAVES)

Treasurer, Charlotte Tulloch, passed out two reports--a net worth report and an itemized categories report. As of 12/11/01, our overall net worth stands at $26,946.29. This is similar to where we were last year. Library subscriptions are up while membership is down slightly.

Legislative Committee Chair, Ellie Bicanich, reported that as reauthorization comes up for Perkins, we would need to become more active in the legislative process to assure that special populations are included in the law. With the current reauthorization, the inclusion of special populations within the accountability section has not been there in most states. On page 42 of the Journal, there is an article about the Perkins definition of special populations. We need to make sure that as an organization, we understand who all the special populations are and address concerns for each of those populations. Our focus has been too narrow on students with disabilities.

Membership Committee Chair, Ellie Bicanich, reported a concern with the decreasing membership in NAVESNP. Membership has decreased by 135 people. We only have 800+ members.

Webmaster, Ellie Bicanich, reported that the website was updated before the conference. It includes the homepage, a page with the officers and their picture, membership benefits, awards, past presidents, history, and links to Minnesota's site, Joanne Cashman's site, Piney Mountain Press, and CCWAVES.

Journal Liaison, Ellie Bicanich, reported that the Journal looks good. However, we need articles. The cover has been updated to include some graphics and some color. Each officer has a responsibility to solicit articles for the Journal. Suggestions for articles include best practices and model programs, presentation abstracts from conference sessions, etc.

Revision of NAVESNP By-Laws&emdash;Dennis Moore distributed copies of the NAVESNP Constitution and By-Laws for board members to review. Revisions will basically involve replacing AVA citations with ACTE.

2002 Convention Planning--Phyllis Eschenmann volunteered to serve as convention chair for the 2002 ACTE Convention in Las Vegas.

National Policy Leadership Conference--Terry Bohannon will represent NAVESNP during the Policy Seminar.

Spring Conference Call--The Spring Conference Call for the NAVESNP Executive Board will be on April 15, 2002 at 5:00 p.m. CDT.

If you would like to read the full text of the board meeting including all reports, please email me at tomervik@ties.k12.mn.us

Submitted by:

Karin Tomervik
NAVESNP Past President
Transition Plus Services
St. Paul, MN

Jim Brown, NAVESNP Past President, 1982-83
Karin Tomervik, NAVESNP Past President 2000-01,
Dennis Moore, NAVESNP President 2001-02


Paraprofessional Spotlight on Don Orr
Transition Plus Educational Assistant

I am an educational assistant for Saint Paul Public Schools. I am employed in the Transition Plus program working with students with disabilities. The primary disability for most of the students is learning disabilities. I am also blind, and one of my responsibilities is to assist students in obtaining employment.

In assisting me in my job, I have several adaptive computers. The first computer I work with is a PC computer with a talking software program. The computer will speak anything that I write. This computer is used to document students' progress if they are either working in the community, or if they are in a training program such as construction trades through Goodwill. I have another computer that has both speech and Braille display.

Since I am required to go into the community to monitor the students, I also have a laptop computer with a global positioning system (GPS). That is how I can find specific addresses. I also have a voice recognition handheld computer for appointments. Because of the advancement of computer technology, it is very possible for blind and visually impaired students to be successful in obtaining employment. Because of computer technology, students with multiple disabilities are able to access the Internet. With my computer, I am able to go online and assist students in finding a job. Five years ago, this would be impossible because at that time computers used by blind persons could not go online using a Windows environment.

Within the last two years, computer technology has come a long way. They now have a computer with speech and Braille that you can hook up to the Internet and basically find information that a sighted person is able to do. If there is a blind student in a class looking for employment, there are training programs available in every state. State Services for the Blind is similar to vocational rehabilitation services with the exception that they only work with blind students. It is possible for a blind student to complete applications by using the computer. There are scanners available that will read typed printed materials, and with this scanning program, it is possible to fill out applications etc. If it weren't for adaptive computer technology, I would have a harder time serving students.

I have one more assistant that I have to recognize. He is a male German Shepherd. Without him, again, it would be difficult to get from point a to point b. If you are a work coordinator and you have a blind student or if you have a student who has difficulty reading or writing, there is technology available. It is my understanding that in the near feature they will be coming out with a Palm handheld with speech and a GPS system. It has been my experience that students who come into my office for assistance want a computer like the one I have so they can hear what they read or write.

Submitted by:

Don Orr
Educational Assistant
Transition Plus Services
St. Paul, MN

Saint Paul Connections

Have you ever heard of Saint Paul Connections? It's a great program for kids with disabilities in the Transition Plus program. Last Xmas vacation, I went to the Savannah Street music studio as part of the Connections program and I did a R&B music CD over there. I also made some friends over there once you join a class in the Connections Program.

If you join the Saint Paul Connections program, you get a free T-Shirt and a pizza party on the last day of the class schedule. And the best part of the program, it's one dollar in fee when you join a class in the Connections program. That's right, one dollar fee per class! So come on in and get a career at the Saint Paul Connections.

Submitted by Benjamin Groetsch
Transition Plus Student
Saint Paul Public Schools

Saint Paul Connections is a production of Saint Paul Public Schools, Area Learning Center, City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce in partnership with local colleges, universities, community agencies, and businesses. Any high school student in grades 9 through 12 living in the Saint Paul metropolitan area can participate. Students can earn both college and high school credit by taking Saint Paul Connections classes.

For more information on the wide variety of career classes, please contact Steve Wojta at 651-221-1446 or email Steve at stephen.woijta@spps.org


Our Journal Needs Your Help

John Gugerty, editor of the Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education, is seeking manuscripts, media reviews, practitioner stories, and student-designed cover art for upcoming issues of the journal. We need your assistance to keep the journal alive and well.

On the journal's website, you can view the table of contents from previous issues of the journal to generate ideas for submissions. We can offer technical assistance in pulling your work together for publication.

For more information on the journal, please contact:

John Gugerty, Co-Editor
The Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education
Center for Education and Work
University of Wisconsin
1025 W. Johnson Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1796

E-mail: jgugerty@education.wisc.edu
Fax: (608) 262-3050
Phone: (608) 263-2724

Bookmark the home page for the journal:


Upcoming Events

  • ACTE Region III Leadership Conference
    June 19-21, 2002
    Doubletree Hotel
    Minneapolis Airport at the Mall
    Bloomington, Minnesota
  • MnACTE/SNP Statewide Conference March 6 & 7, 2003. The location will be the Earl Brown Center in Brooklyn Center.

Amy Jacobson, DRS Counselor Serving St. Paul Transition Plus Receives Award

Amy Jacobson, Rehab Counselor at the downtown St. Paul Work Force Center, is the winner of this year's "Public Partner of the Year" award from Goodwill/Easter Seals. The award is given each year to one person who has made significant contributions in helping people with disabilities or disadvantages gain greater independence. Goodwill/Easter Seals CEO Michael Wirth-Davis announced that Jacobson earned the award "because of the positive support and advocacy you offer your clients. You are creative and persistent in finding solutions to reduce barriers that may hinder a client's success." Joanne Ciccarelli, RS Supervisor at the St. Paul WFC, said Jacobson is one of the 12 counselors who make up the great team in St. Paul. "When people come to our office they are treated as individuals, and they are given a good opportunity to look at the labor market and how their disability might limit them, so that we can do as much as we can to help them find work. Amy really digs into all of the pieces of the puzzle in terms of getting a complete picture of what the person needs to be successful."

Jacobson was nominated by a group of five people who have worked with her over the past several years. In a statement nominating Jacobson for the award, a case manager wrote, "After many years serving clients Amy retains a positive, supportive approach with every client that is reminiscent of someone just entering the field."

Permission to reprint from "Lite Bytes," a weekly electronic newsletter for MDES and WorkForce Center staff. To subscribe to "Lite Bytes," please contact Irene Connors at: ICONNORS@ngwmail.des.state.mn.us

Submitted by:

Karin Tomervik
Transition Plus Services
St. Paul, MN




Work Skills Day

Saint Paul Public Schools and Roseville Area Schools

The Saint Paul Public Schools, the Roseville Area Schools, Center for Employment and Training, Rehabilitation Services Division, and the Saint Paul Schools' Community Transition Interagency Committee, will host their sixth annual "Work Skills Day" on Thursday, May 2, 2002 at the West Conference Center of the State Department of Children, Families & Learning, 1500 West Highway 36, Roseville, Minnesota from 8:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

New this year will be a presentation by CLIMB Theatre (Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body). CLIMB is a "theatre on wheels," traveling to classrooms to bring its unique drama programming to people with and without disabilities. "Goal Setting" will be the theme of CLIMB's presentation at this year's Work Skills Day.

Sixty high school students will be involved this year. The participating students are involved in either Occupational Internships and/or Career Seminar programs at their high schools or school programs. They will demonstrate how well they can perform in the following areas: job applications, job interviews, general job knowledge, and job problem solving.

Employers are volunteering to serve as judges for the day's events and competition. BestPrep is helping to provide the judges/employers. The "Work Skills Day" enables the students to showcase their skills to employers and exposes employers to the abilities these students possess. An award ceremony will take place at the conclusion of the competition.

Many metro area agencies and programs that provide services to students will have staff and informational booths present. Financial support for the "Work Skills Day" is provided by Perkins Vocational Funds.

This event is open to the public and the media. For additional information, please contact Tom Rein at Community Based PSD Program, 651-293-6644.

Submitted by:

Tom Rein
Work Experience Coordinator
Focus Beyond





New Transition Book

The Road Ahead
Transition to Adult Life for Persons with Disabilities

Keith Storey, Paul Bates, and Dawn Hunter edited a new book out this month from the Training Resource Network, Inc. on transition from school to adult life. Twenty national transition experts wrote ten chapters on a variety of topics including person-centered planning, instructional assessment, and supported living. Each chapter has discussion questions, best practices, and a list of references. You may want to add this book to your transition library and consider writing a review of it to be printed in the Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education. John Gugerty, journal editor, is actively seeking media reviews. To find out more information about this book and to order it, please go to their website at: http://www.trninc.com/roadahead.htm

Submitted by:

Karin Tomervik
Transition Plus Services
St. Paul, MN


An Internship Program Connecting Minnesota Students with a Disability to Employers

Breakthrough is an internship program for post secondary students with a disability. The program offers successful students a chance to gain real world career experience. Students will have a chance to jump-start their careers. Breakthrough provides paid internships to both 2- and 4-year students during the summer prior to their final year of school preparation. Breakthrough is an uncommon resource for major businesses. They will have an opportunity to identify outstanding candidates from a variety of fields.

Breakthrough sponsoring partners are:

  • The Disability Institute
  • Minnesota Business Leadership Network
  • Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
  • Minnesota Job Skills Partnership
  • Disability Services at the University of Minnesota
  • Minnesota Association of Higher Education and Disability
  • Minnesota State Council on Disability.

Colorful Breakthrough posters and brochures were delivered to post secondary education disability services offices earlier this year. Twenty-six students applied for the initial internship program. Applications were screened by the Breakthrough Advisory Committee, and Breakthrough employers are currently interviewing and hiring Breakthrough students.

The major sponsor of Breakthrough is The Disability Institute (TDI). The Disability Institute promotes independence, full participation and integration of people with disabilities into global communities by addressing political, economic, and social issues through education, research, and advocacy. It is located in the Twin Cities. For more information on Breakthrough and The Disability Institute, please contact:

Wendy S. Brower
Executive Director

Telephone 952-935-9343
Fax 952-912-0935

Address: 154 Meadowbrook Road, Hopkins, MN 55343
E-Mail: brower@wavefront.com

Visit The Disability Institute website at http://www.disabilityinstitute.org

Submitted by:

Karin Tomervik
Transition Plus Services
St. Paul, MN


Steve Widerski Transition Plus Student Earns Breakthrough Internship

Steve Widerski, Saint Paul Public Schools Transition Plus Services student, was awarded a summer internship through the Breakthrough program. He will be working for Northwest Airlines in their help desk area for employees needing assistance with accessing their computer accounts. It is a full-time 40 hour per week job at $12 per hour. In addition to the valuable experience Steve will have in this position, he will earn a free round trip flight every 30 days. Are we envious? For Steve, this is a well-deserved accomplishment in a long list of them.

Steve completed 35 credits in the computer network engineering program at St. Paul Technical College and is finishing two short-term internships at St. Paul Technical College and at Harding High School in St. Paul. He works two jobs and developed a computer network serving six of his neighbors. Did I mention that he is also an Eagle Scout?

We wish Steve well in his new position and are proud of his achievements.

Submitted by:

Karin Tomervik, Ph.D.
Transition Plus Services
St. Paul, MN


CFL Partnerships/Guests 

Deb Johnson Attends March Board Meeting

Deb Johnson, Work Experience connection through CFL's Special Needs Division, attended our March board meeting. She presented materials on standards and measures, an employer's guide to work-based learning, the new Work-Based Learning endorsement, and the Minnesota State Transition Plan. Although the weather was horrible, 10 people attended the meeting. Thanks to Deb for the presentation and valuable information.

Steve Etheridge, PSEO Resource at CFL, Attends April Board Meeting

At our April board meeting, Steve Etheridge met with the Board of Directors to discuss ideas and issues regarding PSEO. It was brought to the board's attention that school districts can save money by contracting directly with post secondary schools as compared to accessing PSEO funds. It's too complicated to explain why in this short article, so call me or Steve Etheridge if you need to know. Steve shared that a total of around 7,000 high school students are accessing PSEO this year. This includes 236 students with disabilities. St. Paul Schools currently contracts for services with post secondary institutions and will share their process at a future board meeting. Watch for a notice on this topic.

Steve welcomed you to contact him with further questions. You may also check the CFL website where you will find participating colleges, policies and forms regarding PSEO.

website: http://cfl.state.mn.us/LOD/PSEO/index.html
phone: (651) 582-8771
email: steve.etheridge@state.mn.us

Division of Special Education, Lifework Development, and MnACE/SNP Work Together to Improve Work Experience Programs

Several MnACTE/SNP members have been working with CFL in an effort to strengthen WEH programs. This advisory group has met twice, and at our most recent meeting made recommendations to CFL which include:

  1. Use the law (IDEA) to gain advantage. It is documented in the law that coordinated activities for integrated and supported employment are required for transition aged students.
  2. Develop an educational component for helping administrators understand our programs.
  3. Use monitor and compliance rules as a tool to apply the transition area of Jobs and Training as it was intended.
  4. Use program approval to hold districts accountable for providing quality programs.
  5. Reestablish a Work Experience licensure for the area of special needs.

Thanks to Beverly Berger, Jim Brown, Inger Churchill, Mary Dupont, Coleen Haggar, Bonnie Holt, Lezlie Ingvalson, Bob Lindgren, Steve Schoenbauer, and Dean Shawbold for being a part of this important policy development. (if I didn't mention your name, I apologize - I relied on my memory, which isn't always so good). Deb Johnson of CFL's Division of Special Education has been facilitating the meetings.

Submitted by:

Steve Czech
Transition Plus
Anoka, MN 55303


NAVESNP to Partner with HEATH Resource Center

George Washington University was recently awarded funding for five years for the National Clearinghouse on Post secondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities. It is their hope that NAVESNP and the state affiliates (MnACTE/SNP included) will collaborate in channeling new and innovative resources through their clearinghouse. They are inviting us to:

  • Advise them on any post secondary education disability issue in need of addressing through their service, training, dissemination and delivery models.
  • Participate in their coordinated network of professional organizations, advocacy associations and disability support groups.
  • Utilize their linkages and support services to better serve our audiences.
  • Disseminate, forward and recommend their products, materials, technology and publications to our audiences.
  • Use resources and information channeled through their website to be accessible for individuals with disabilities, their families, advocates and all related service stakeholders.
  • Support their efforts in strengthening post secondary education and transition through our extensive resources and products.

If you have comments or suggestions in any of these areas, please contact the GW HEATH Resource Center at 800-544-3284 or email at help@HEATH.gwu.edu or visit their website at http://www.HEATH.gwu.edu.

Submitted by:

Karin Tomervik
Transition Plus Services
St. Paul, MN

Steve Czech
Date Last Modified: 4/19/02