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Column: Education district enhancing opportunites

For more than 20 years, the Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Red Wing and Zumbrota-Mazeppa school districts have collaborated through the Goodhue County Education District to customize unique services for their most challenging students and complex service needs so that all students get the best education possible.

Our goal has been to enhance education opportunities through inter-district and interagency cooperation.

The Goodhue County Education DistricT serves students with low incidence special education needs throughout Goodhue County and serves as the administrative support structure for special education and English Language Learner programming in the five member districts.

Goodhue County Education District complements and supports the efforts of member districts by providing unique special education program options and individualized instruction for children and young adults from birth to 21 years of age through a co-funded and collaborative effort with Goodhue County Health and Human Services.

Through this work we are able to keep students enrolled in their community while maintaining their educational opportunities. The programs and educational opportunities we offer are the outgrowth of needs identified by our member districts.

GCED is committed to the continuous development of highly specialized programs that allow students with low-incidence impairments to receive a quality education and to achieve their full potential. These special education programs and services include three programs that serve students with behavioral needs. These programs serve students ranging in age from 6-18 and are known throughout the County as Deer View, Riverside and Wastedo.

Program components include differentiated academic instruction, related services, community and experiential based instruction, volunteer opportunities, and transition skill development.

A second site-based offering is a customized program that serves students ages 6-21 with developmental cognitive disabilities and autism spectrum disorder, known as Upwards. The students in this special education program have been diagnosed with a variety of neurobiological disabilities that require a highly customized environment and a low student to staff ratio.

The final site-based program is the transition program, known as STEP which serves 18-21 year old students with low incidence disabilities. This program includes academic or functional skills instruction, vocational skill development, community-based learning, and training in personal responsibility and self-advocacy. The STEP

program seeks to provide services for young adults as they progress from an educational setting toward living and working as independently as possible in the community.

Goodhue County Education District would like to take this opportunity to thank some of our many community partners who have so willingly worked with us to create volunteer and paid work sites. These partners include: Art Reach, Brickhouse Pub and Grille, Red Wing Health Center, Hope Coalition, Humane Society of Goodhue County, Meals on Wheels, Angel's Care Center, Zumbrota Care Center, Red Wing Pottery and Shops, ProAct Inc., Red Wing Food Shelf, Riverbend Market Cooperative, Red Wing Visitors Center, and Youth Outreach.

GCED also provides itinerant and program services to students attending school in our member districts. These services include occupational, physical, and speech therapy, blind and visual impairment and deaf and hard of hearing instructional and program support, audiology services, nursing services, physical and health disability services, school psychology, autism consultation, and literacy support. We have two parent groups currently meeting. The first is our Special Education Advisory Council which meets four times a year to provide input into our processes and programs and to provide a communication link with parents and special educators.

The second is our Autism Parent Group which meets monthly as a support network and strategy session.

If you are interested in learning more about our services and programs please do not hesitate to contact