Director of Special Programs
August 1, 2020
On behalf of the North Polk Community School District, I would like to introduce myself as the new Director of Special Programs. My name is Matthew Blackmore and I’m excited to partner with you and your family on their educational journey through the amazing schools that make up the NPCSD.
Serving as the Director of Special Programs, my goal is to build a bridge of communication and resources that will allow all students to learn and excel at high levels throughout their educational journey.
As a former student served in special education with a learning disability, I understand first hand the struggles that learning can have on a student and their academic success. As a public school educator in both Illinois & Iowa, I have served school districts as a Special Education Teacher, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal, Activities Director, and Principal. I’m confident that my experiences in educational leadership along with the programming that we offer within the NPCSD will allow all students to have a great learning experience and allow them a successful transition from grade level to grade level and overtime to post-secondary success.
NPCSD is committed to learning for all by learning from all. Our leadership team has researched, surveyed and developed what we feel is the elite state of learning given the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Listed below are more defined categories as they relate to our return to open plan for Special Programs:
- Section 504: (students in needs of academic/physical accommodations) All Section 504 support and meeting protocols have been developed for both onsite and remote continuous learning options. Decisions around meeting participation and communication will be made on an individual basis. Section 504 teams are encouraged to discuss accommodation needs for students in both learning environments—in person and remote continuous learning.
- School Counseling: (in school and out of school resources) School Counselors will work with their teams and administrator(s) to determine when their services will be provided on site or remotely. Additionally, the district collaborates with Lifeworks and Employee & Family Resources for additional student and staff support.
- Extended Learning Program: (talented & gifted) The Extended Learning Program will continue to support schools, talented & gifted learners, and their families in either a hybrid or remote continuous learning environment. Each school’s ELP Resource Teacher (RT) will be available to support families, staff and students, in both hybrid and remote continuous learning environments. North Polk’s Talented & Gifted Program will coordinate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the needs of gifted learners and their families are met. To maximize students’ face to face time with teachers, ELP Services will continue to be provided remotely to the greatest extent possible in either a hybrid or full remote continuous learning environment.
- Special Education: (students served with an Individual Education Plan) The Special Education Department is committed to providing free and appropriate educational opportunities for students with disabilities, to the greatest extent possible in alignment with public health guidelines. For more detailed information regarding special education please visit the Iowa IDEA Information (i3) website. Collaboration with families has always been an integral part of the special education process and continues to be essential during this time. To address the unique needs of students with disabilities, special education providers will continue the work with families to collaboratively identify the most essential services for each student that can be provided both directly and indirectly in remote continuous learning and onsite learning environments. Service plans will be adjusted as needed for the circumstances of the learning environment. We recognize that each student will have an individual plan based on the learning model selected by the district. When this happens, we will be working diligently to set detailed plans for the delivery of special education services.
- At-Risk: (students who may be academically deficient than their grade level peers) students that will learn in an alternative setting with additional support and resources that allow students to achieve at their grade level.
- Social Emotional Behavior Mental Health: (providing resources and support with the Heartland AEA) North Polk Schools along with the support of the Heartland Area Education Agency will continue to offer resources and support to meet the needs of all students.
Lastly, through transparent communication and systems that build high levels of learning, together we can make every Comet experience in the North Polk Community Schools one that every student will treasure for a lifetime.