This article was contributed by Gwen Baquiran, director of special education at Hollister School District.
The Hollister School District (HSD) Special Education department is committed to providing professional development opportunities. One of the district’s responses to improving special education is by providing staff workshops that are aligned with state mandates to improve instruction and supports in the classroom.
HSD has partnered with Chartwell School of the Central Coast to train resource specialists on the use of a highly specialized instructional approach for students who have learning disabilities. This structured approach to literacy includes early identification, intervention and assessment of student progress for those students who are struggling readers or those who have Dyslexia.
These teachers have participated in a 32-hour intensive course of training. Our teachers are certain that this training will better prepare them to deal with the challenges of overcoming reading difficulties of the students they serve. One of the districts’ educators, Mahalia Magabo said,
“As someone who is passionate about making a difference in students education and improving teachers ongoing education about reading, this will pave the way to better services and focused evidence based practices for all students,” said educator Mahalia Magabo.
Resource Specialist Megan Ward said, “This is very proactive of the district and the special education department to provide this training.”
A major motivation for providing this training to Hollister School District special educators is the need to address the California Dyslexia guidelines that were released in 2017. Special Education Director Gwen Baquiran said
“As a district, we have taken a proactive approach to utilize these California Dyslexia guidelines as a way of intervening to prevent students from falling through the cracks and strengthen student outcomes,” Special Education Director Gwen Baquiran said.
The Hollister School District has also taken an additional approach by including some of the general education teachers from RO Hardin, Hollister Dual Language Academy (HDLA) and Calaveras in the summer training program. The district plans to further train intervention teachers in the fall. Superintendent Diego Ochoa said,
“Strengthening special education and early intervention are some of my key priorities for the Hollister School District,” Superintendent Diego Ochoa said. “I believe that this type of training will improve reading levels across the district by changing the way students learn to read at an early age.”