Sept. 21 Dept. of Teaching & Learning Update: Services for Students with Disabilities, English Learners, and Gifted Students

We are two weeks into the new school year and our students and staff are settling in to instructional routines.  Here is some information about ongoing services, supports and opportunities for our students with disabilities, English Learners and Gifted students:

Special Education

Phase 1 updates-
Students who are unable to access distance learning without significant adult support will be the first group of students to return to APS school buildings. This group of students will have the opportunity to continue virtual learning with the support of APS staff members in our school building. Schools are in the process of identifying students for this phase. Communication to parents will follow. An additional working group has been formed to plan on phasing in the second group of students with disabilities into our building in a hybrid model.

The Office of Special Education will be providing the opportunity for parents to participate in Crisis Intervention and Prevention Training (CPI). This course is designed to build strategies to safely manage and prevent difficult behavior. More information will be made available through the Parent Resource Center (PRC).

English Learners (ELs)

As students have returned to learning, we wanted you to be aware of some of the supports in place to make learning even better.

Bilingual Family Liaisons  – The Bilingual Family Liaisons are bilingual/bicultural parent liaisons who work closely with other school staff, including administrators, teachers (including English Learner department staff), special education and gifted staff, counselors, social workers and other school staff, in order to provide supports to students and families. The Bilingual Family Liaison serves as a liaison between families and the school. They will welcome you into the school and help connect you to the staff in the school who can answer your questions. Please see the list of the Bilingual Family Liaisons for more information for your school.

English Learner (EL) Counselors – The EL Counselors, who are at each of the middle and high schools and sites, support English learners in many different ways. They can provide direct services to ELs which include, but are not limited to, individual counseling, group counseling, crisis intervention, family reunification, acculturation and trauma support. Students may be referred by teachers, administrators, school counselors, nurses, school staff, parents and/or self. The EL Counselors are bilingual and collaborate with other professionals to ensure appropriate and meaningful support. If your student is in need of social-emotional support, please reach out to the school and ask for the EL counselor. Or, using the Bilingual Family Liaison (BFL) list above, contact the BFL at your middle or high school.

Having issues with connectivity and getting online? APS has a phone line that can help you. Call the Family Technology Call Center at 703-228-2570 for technical support. They can be reached:

    • 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday
    • 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Friday

Gifted Services 

One of the ways RTGs are supporting virtual teaching and learning is to model how to use the different APPS available to teachers to nurture student discussion, gather feedback and/or raise the level of engagement for all students. Each RTG created a short Flipgrid video to introduce themselves to their communities and welcome everyone back to the new school year. For easy access for the community, these Flipgrid videos have been added to the Gifted Services webpage and can be directly found using the following links:  Meet the Elementary RTGs and Meet the Secondary RTGs. You will also see a list of all RTGs by school and their email addresses.

In anticipation of distance learning and the need for on-demand virtual professional learning for teachers, the Gifted Services office offered over 30 online webinars and self-paced sessions for teachers and staff this summer and during pre-service week. In addition, these sessions are available for teachers to access anytime for just-in-time learning. These sessions were organized around the following categories: Equity in the Screening and Identification for Gifted Services, Virtual Teaching and Learning for Gifted Learners, Social Emotional Development and Needs of Gifted Learners, Differentiation and Purposefully Planning for Diverse Gifted Learners, and Problem-Based and Project-Based Learning. Over 480 webinars and reflections were completed by teachers from across the county during the pre-service phase of our professional learning.

One way to see Gifted Services in action in APS is to follow us on Twitter @APSGifted. You will also see articles about current best practices in education and resources to support families. Here are just a few examples from RTGs in a high school, middle school and elementary school: At W-L, Liz Burgos, the RTG at W-L, worked with the 9th grade teachers and students on the QFT strategy. (Question Formulation Technique) Kat Partington, RTG at Dorothy Hamm, shared her enthusiasm for class discussions in two social studies classrooms. At Randolph ES, Jacqui Greene, RTG, shares how teachers and students are focusing on building a learning community. Eileen Wagner, RTG at Yorktown @YHSGifted, also shared a great resource for families as we all navigate the virtual teaching and learning world: “Navigating Uncharted Waters: Supporting Students’ Engagement During Virtual Learning” presented September 2020 by Dr. Jennifer Pease, UVa Associate Professor, Dept. of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education. Dr. Pease emphasizes the structures needed at home and addresses organizational management ideas, motivation and mindsets during virtual learning given current research.

screenshot from twitter    screenshot from twitter

screenshot from twitter    screenshot from twitter