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CCSD IMPLEMENTS CHANGES TO BETTER SERVE STUDENTS & FAMILIES

The goal of the Clarke County School District is always to ensure we provide our students with opportunities and support that will allow them to be successful both academically and behaviorally. As we undertake the critical work of planning for the 2019-20 school year, we are implementing some changes to help us better serve our students and families. 

Clarke County School District's Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HH) program will move from Cleveland Road Elementary School to Winterville Elementary School. This program will continue to be supported by Sara Tabb, Coordinator of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services, through NE GA RESA. The school district will also provide a Special Education Coordinator, Amanda Barham, to support the students assigned to this program. As a result of this location change, the middle school Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program will be moved from Burney Harris Lyons Middle School to Coile Middle School. This will allow the designated elementary and middle schools for our Regional Deaf/Hard of Hearing program to be in closer proximity to each other, allowing students to maintain critical social connections in the transition from elementary to middle school.

An additional program change for the 2019-20 school year involves district RISE and COMPASS classrooms.  The RISE program provides an opportunity for elementary-age children to receive short term, individualized behavioral support while accessing grade-level standards in a smaller classroom setting.   This classroom is offered as an intervention through the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) process with the goal of students returning to their home school with strong transitional plans. 

 The COMPASS program is part of the continuum of services for students who are eligible for special education.  Students are assigned to this specialized program when their emotional needs cannot be met in a regular classroom setting.  Placement decisions are made as a result of Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings.   

Both the RISE and COMPASS programs will be housed at Cleveland Road Elementary School and supported by Utevia Tolbert, the newly assigned Coordinator of Elementary Behavior and Support Services. She will support teachers with instructional and behavioral strategies while serving as an internal liaison for our families. Her office will be at Cleveland Road Elementary School to provide onsite support to staff, students, and families.

"It is my pleasure to come on board with a phenomenal group of educators that are committed to providing equitable learning opportunities for all of our students," says Utevia Tolbert, Coordinator of Elementary Behavior and Support Services. "My new role will allow me to combine my experience as a building administrator, behavior specialist, and self-contained EBD teacher.  I look forward to collaborating with all of our stakeholders to build and sustain partnerships that will offer our students and teachers the support that they need to remove the barriers for learning while reducing the achievement gap. I am excited about the new opportunity and look forward to continuing the work of ensuring our students are better every day."    

An educator since 2001, Ms. Tolbert has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the State University of West Georgia and a Master's Degree in special education from Piedmont College. She also earned a specialist degree in educational leadership from Cambridge College in Augusta. Ms. Tolbert's rich background in education makes her an ideal candidate for her new role. Her time working directly with students as both a behavior specialist and special education teacher gave her experience writing individual behavior plans and developing IEP goals. Ms. Tolbert’s experience assistant principal and principal will be of benefit to the students and families served by the RISE and COMPASS programs. 

"We are fortunate to have Ms. Tolbert's expertise on our team of coordinators. The relocation of the RISE and Compass programs allows the district to leverage resources in one location to best meet our students' individual needs," says Heidi Hill, Executive Director of Special Education and Behavior Supports. "We are using this opportunity to ensure our staff is well prepared to implement these programs when students return on August 5. Ms. Tolbert brings with her 18 years of experience, 10 of which were specific to serving students with disabilities. I believe her building-level experience as a principal will allow her to provide a level of support to students and teachers in these programs that the district has not been able to provide thus far."

For more information about Clarke County School District, please contact Mary Wickwire at 706-546-7721 or wickwirem@clarke.k12.ga.us.