U.S. education official lauds LPS special education, early childhood programs
A high-ranking U.S. Department of Education official visited a special education program and an early childhood program at Lincoln Public Schools last week, afterwards lauding the school district for the “phenomenal” job it’s doing in these areas.
Laurie VanderPloeg, director of the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education, was in Lincoln to speak at a Nebraska Department of Education conference Feb. 6. That morning, she took time out of her packed schedule to visit the early childhood program at Kooser Elementary School and the Independence Academy, a special education program that prepares students with disabilities, primarily ages 18 to 21, to gain the skills and connections they need to facilitate a positive transition into adult living.
Independence Academy students gain community-based work and life experience at various sites throughout Lincoln, including the site that VanderPloeg visited at Southeast Community College.
She offered high praise for LPS after visiting with students and staff at the Independence Academy.
“I'll be honest with you, the Lincoln schools have done a phenomenal job in relationship to allocating resources, providing professional development opportunities, as well as really good coaching models for mentorship, to build and develop the knowledge, skills and abilities of staff to meet the unique individual needs of students with disabilities within their programming,” VanderPloeg said.
Mentioning the early childhood program, she also commended LPS for the extensive services and support offered to its “whole continuum” of students, from birth all the way to 21 years of age.
“It was very impressive to be able to be an observer within the Lincoln programs,” she said. “You're doing an exceptional job. I commend you for the work that you're doing - the dedication of your staff, dedication of your administration, and the hard-working commitment to making a difference in the lives of all of your students within the Lincoln public schools. So we really appreciate that.”
LPS serves more than 7,000 students through its special education programs and more than 2,000 children across the city through its early childhood program.
Published: February 11, 2020, Updated: February 20, 2020