K-12 Education

HDC Spotlight: Nicky Gillies, MS, NIC

DeafBlindness affects more than 10,000 children between birth and 21 years of age in the United States, and has over 70 known causes, including Usher’s syndrome, CHARGE syndrome, meningitis, and rubella. Nicky Gillies, MS, NIC and the Louisiana DeafBlind Project (LADBP) work with families and school districts to ensure that they are providing the best supports for children and youth that address deafblindness as a unique disability as well as any other disabilities that may be present.

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Orleans Parish School Guides for Parents

At the start of the school year, NOLA Public Schools posted three guides for parents of children with special health care needs on programs, resources, and transitions services for their children. HDC was made aware of the guides through an interview aired on WWNO the morning of December 20th with Jennifer Coco, Local Policy Manager for the Center for Learner Equity. The guide is also mentioned in Jennifer Coco’s open letter to the Advocate on December 9th, 2021.

About NOLA Public Schools

We are a community of public schools devoted to educating and preparing all our students to thrive in life. For 180 years, public education in New Orleans has been a part of this vibrant and multicultural city’s complicated history.

HDC’s LASARD project extends reach across Louisiana

Julie Riley gives presentation to a group of 20 educators.

This article was written in collaboration with HDC’s K-12 Initiatives Director Julie Riley, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA, and HDC Director Philip Wilson, Ph.D.

Human Development Center’s Louisiana Autism Spectrum and Related Disabilities (LASARD) project has nearly tripled the number of school districts it collaborates with over the past two-years; going from about 10 districts to over 25 school systems across the state this 2021-22 school year. The HDC LASARD project is proud to serve “traditional” districts and charter systems from Webster and Morehouse in the northern part of the state, to Concordia in the east, to Jeff Davis in the southwest, and to Tangipahoa and ReNEW charters in the southeast.

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HDC Spotlight: Ali Kowitz, M.Ed., ET/P

Ms. Ali Kowitz recently joined the staff of HDC’s K-12 Educational Initiatives as an educational facilitator.  Ali coaches special educators and regular education teachers to better serve students, including those with disabilities in several school districts across South Louisiana (i.e., Iberville, East Baton Rouge, ReNEW-New Orleans, and Belle Chasse Academy). According to Ms. Julie Riley, HDC’s K-12 Education Initiatives director, “Ali may have only been in this role for three-months, but her expertise in instructional strategies and transition has added greatly to our team.” In fact, Ali has already developed professional development materials focusing on instructional strategies and accommodations/modifications to assist students with disabilities function within school-wide and classroom norms. Happily, these strategies work for students of all abilities!

Ali Kowitz
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LADBP Celebrates DeafBlind Awareness Week

The Louisiana DeafBlind Project for Children and Youth (LADBP) is featured in Helen Keller National Center’s 2021 DeafBlind Awareness video campaign.

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Feeling Through at the Oscars

Feeling Through, nominated for the 2021 Academy Awards, is the first film to cast a DeafBlind actor in the lead role. The film has now connected thousands of people to the missions of DeafBlind communities around the world. Watch their journey to the Oscars here:

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Summer 2021 Guide for Families

An African American father and his three daughters smiling outdoors.

As part of the Family Mentoring Experience, LEND trainee Olivia Price created this New Orleans guide full of summer camps and activities for her host family. The guide includes information about COVID-19 precautions as well as supports and accommodations for children with disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Any family with elementary school-age children in the Greater New Orleans may find it useful!

View the 2021 Summer Guide for Families here:

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