Tag Archives: meeting minutes

Meeting Minutes: March 20, 2014

Highlights from the meeting:

Our meeting today included a presentation by Dr. Heller regarding her recent research on how teachers can more effectively manage situations where a student has a terminal illness and/or when a student death occurs. Her presentation highlighted information about the grieving process, and how many people grieve differently, as well as the stages of grief that many experience.

She also discussed how teachers can manage communication with their terminally ill students, and their peers within the school setting. We learned that there are various ways of going about this while maintaining a positive and encouraging environment for the student while they are school. We also discussed how other family members, especially siblings may need support if their sibling is experiencing a terminal illness. These siblings will need a support system as well in the school setting.

Dr. Heller’s research determined that while teachers are feeling much more supported regarding students’ terminal illnesses and death than they were more than twenty years ago, there is room to grow. It is Dr. Heller’s wish that teachers, students, and school staff are well supported in order to deal with these sensitive topics in the school setting, well before and after a student has died from a terminal illness. The presentation was very informative and prompted an engaging conversation among the group.


We are pleased to announce that Renee Dawson, itinerant OI teacher in Cherokee County, is going to join the consortium leadership team. She brings a great deal of knowledge to the table as well as a great deal of experience in professional development.

Here is a link to access the Medicaid Fair flyer that is being held on April 2nd in Fulton County, please share this information with your students and their parents.

Resource Fair 2014 P2P flyer

The consortium also discussed the possibility of hosting an OI symposium next year. This would allow OI teachers and other related professionals the opportunity to meet other OI teachers, and to share information and resources related to out field. If you are interested in assisting with the planning of this event, please contact Judy Bytheway at: bytheway@fultonschools.org.

Other announcements included the possibility that we are going to gain permission to receive Professional Learning Units for our meetings, as well as any other activities that we organize, such as a symposium. I will keep you posted on any developments regarding our PLU status.

Available OI Positions:

There are currently 1-2 OI positions available in the Gwinnett County School System. Please contact Eva Parks at: eva_parks@gwinnett.k12.ga.us if you are interested if you are seeking an OI position. There are also 1-2 OI positions open in the Columbia County School System in Evans, Georgia, located near Augusta. Please contact go to this web address to view and apply for the positions:


Lastly, the blog has been recently updated to include a list of helpful apps for our students and teachers. Please take a look at these apps under the “Useful Apps” tab at the top of the blog. Please feel free to share the blog with other teachers so that they can access this resource. Also, please share additional apps that you find helpful.

We are so appreciative that so many people were able to attend the meeting yesterday. We had 19 members attend from several counties in the metro area. Thank you!

The next meeting on May 15th, 2014 will be held at the Tools for Life Facility at Georgia Tech University. I will provide more information regarding directions and parking in the next few days.

If you have any questions, please contact me at bytheway@fultonschools.org, or use the “Contact Us” tab at the top of the blog.

Thank you,

Judy Bytheway

Meeting Minutes: November 2013

There was a presentation by the Spina Bifida Association of GA.

The presentation was given by, Kristen DiCarlo, Exec. Director and Ginny Posid, Nurse Consult.

An overview of the Spina Bifida Association services and support were presented.

If you would like a packet of the presentation contact the Spina Bifida Association of GA


Meeting Minutes: October 11, 2012

Meeting Minutes from OI Consortium Meeting: October, 11 2012

Gwinnett Instructional Center, Duluth, Georgia

The meeting today centered on the topic of utilizing organizational strategies as well as various types of AT that will further increase a student’s overall organization.

Mrs. Bytheway presented a powerpoint presentation discussing the various realms of organization, and how students with physical and health impairments are more directly affected by a lack of organization resulting in failing grades, lack of confidence, etc.

The group also discussed options for students who are medically fragile and require multiple breaks throughout the day to prevent fatigue. One teacher discussed how a student would use Skype within the school in order to participate in her classes in another part of the school building that was more comfortable for her. This accommodation allows the student to attend school without causing extreme fatigue during the day, offering a creative solution to the problem of prolonged and frequent absences.

The group offered many suggestions as well regarding other organization strategies as well as AT that will further enable organization skills.

–         Teacher websites are useful for students to keep up with their homework assignments as well as long-term planning for upcoming tests and quizzes. It was also recommended that students use a regular hanging calendar to write their long-term or short-term assignments on as a visual reminder that can be displayed at home.

–         AT solutions that were offered were:

–         Scanning wands (Less than 50 dollars at Wal-Mart)

–         Web Based version of Kurzweil

–         Microsoft 7 version of their on screen keyboard (useful for students with Muscular Dystrophy or other degenerative conditions)

–         Utilize the hover feature instead of requiring mouse clicks.

–         Speech to text on Microsoft 7

–         Dragon on Iphone

–         Swiftpoint 300 Mouse

–         Having someone from CATEA come out again to offer another presentation on their research at Georgia Tech, or even going there to tour the facilities.

–         Attending another tour of the AT department at the ShephardCenter

–         The group also wanted to discuss how a planning tool could be developed for determining service hours for a student.

–         Lastly, the group wanted to discuss how to write IEP objectives for students who are served on a consultative basis. It was recommended that the each person brought a copy of their Present Levels of Performance in order to discuss possible service times for that student, and how the OI teacher should effectively serve that student. There may be differences among the counties regarding how students are served, and this would be a helpful exercise in comparing service models for OI Itinerants across the Metro Area. Lastly, the group discussed future topics for upcoming meetings.

Meeting Minutes: February 2011: The Role of an OI Teacher

OI Consortium

Dr. Kathy Heller: The
Role of the OI Teacher

What makes an OI teacher different than other teachers?

How are our students different than other teachers?

CEC Division Position Statement: Started in 1996. Dr. Heller
has written an article describing the critical role of the OI Teacher, as well as discussing the history of OI certification.
Dr. Heller’s article delineates the Specialized Skills in
Physical/Health Disabilities such as Legal Foundations, Characteristics,
Assessment, Instruction, Curriculum, and Learning Environment.  Students with physical and health disabilities are the most at risk of all the groups of students with disabilities if the teacher does not have the required knowledge and
skills.  They are not only at risk of not having an appropriate education with the needed modifications and adaptations, but the student’s well being may be at risk.
The student’s well being may hinge on the teachers’ knowledge and
ability to:  provide a safe environment to accommodate the student’s unique medical and health needs; recognize and report critical observations concerning changes in health status; recognize and respond quickly to emergency situations.

Study in 2001: It is frightening what teachers of students with Orthopedic Impairments did NOT know regarding their students’ needs. When a specialized certification is required, there is a demand for a specialized certification program at the university level.

However, when the certification is no longer required by the state agency, then there is no delivery of knowledge and specialized skills instruction for OI teachers. This knowledge is critical for students with physical disabilities.

2009: A National Panel was formed to determine what an OI Teacher does differently from other educators, and what unique skills are required to provide appropriate service to students with physical/health disabilities.  These skills are outlined in

“What Every Special Educator Must Know: The International Standards for thePreparation and Certification of Special Education Teachers” (The Council for Exceptional Children, 1996).  Dr. Heller provided handouts and review.

The initial certification in GA for OI is either an add-on
certification program, or a masters in OI.

Dr. Heller reviews the Standards for Teachers of Students
with Physical and Health Disabilities.

Standard 1: There are key differences in the skills and
knowledge that are specific to OI teachers, i.e. medical procedures (tube
feeding, CIC, etc.) as well as having the knowledge base regarding the
different disabilities (etiology, characteristics, impact on learning,
instructional strategies for specific disabilities);  for example: How Spina Bifida effects abstract reasoning skills in Math, inferential comprehension, etc.)

Standard 2: Secondary conditions are also highly possible in
students with orthopedic impairments, such as asthma, seizure disorders and
shunt malfunctioning.  It is important to know how these conditions interact with the primary orthopedic impairment and how these conditions further impact the student’s learning.

Standard 3: Individual Learning Differences- As OI teachers,
we must effectively determine how the orthopedic impairment affects our
students’ ability to learn and respond (communicate) with others. Students with
orthopedic impairments have varying means of response (eye gaze, foot
movements, etc.) that may not be traditionally looked upon as a reliable means
of response.  However, for our OI students it is necessary to systematically determine the most efficient means of response for the student so that the student may be able to interact effectively with their learning environment, teachers, peers, etc. Also, students with degenerative diseases have further psychosocial effects and emotional effects. It may be good to have a discussion regarding how to handle the emotional component of degenerative disorders with staff members, and how we can best support our students during this time. Additionally, students with medical conditions (seizures, ADHD) and post-surgery will have interactive affects from medication and pain management. Students who are nonverbal have to have specialized interventions regarding reading instruction, i.e. additional rehearsal for decoding using the Non-Verbal Reading Approach. Experiential deficits and processing issues are also a huge concern for our students.

Overall, we have to explore the interactive effects of all
factors that students must deal with (functional effects, health effects,
psychosocial, developmental, etc.) and how these factors impact the student’s
learning in all realms.

We have to separate the motor from the cognitive in our
approach to working with students with Orthopedic Impairments. Specialized
instructional strategies will alleviate motor errors and frustration for
students with severe physical disabilities.

It is also necessary for students with physical disabilities
to be involved and knowledgeable about their health care procedures in order
for them to be as independent as possible.

Students should also benefit from adapted curriculums and
assistive technology that will maximize their educational performance according
to their unique needs.

Standard 5: Learning Environments/Social Interactions

It is necessary for teachers to accommodate their student’s
needs within the classroom environment so that the student can more fully
access their instructional materials.

OI teachers should walk the emergency evacuation route to
make sure that students with physical disabilities are able to quickly and
safely leave the building. If the suggested route is not appropriate, then it
may be necessary to create alternative plans and procedures.

Positioning techniques are also necessary to ensure the most
functional use of the students’ limbs that are functional. Correct
re-positioning and movement in and out of the wheelchair are also extremely
important in order to prevent pressure sores that may become infected, thus
leading to other possible conditions, some of which can be fatal.

Mrs. Seals (DeKalb) asked about recommendations for physical
therapists regarding older students who are often dismissed from services
regarding decreased range of motion issues over time. Recommendation: “Are
there strategies that I can use as a teacher during the extra time that we have
during the day to assist with increasing range of motion that may be impacted
by contractures?”

Also, in order to prevent teacher injury, proper lifting and
handling techniques are important to know when lifting and handling students.

Spread:  Sometimes when people see a student with physical disabilities they assume there are other disabilities as well, i.e. a student with CP is intellectually disabled.

Making sure that paraprofessionals are not over stepping their boundaries which further enables learned helplessness.

Standard 6: Language

Making sure that students with disabilities are able to
communicate effectively through the use of an AT device or other assistive
technologies or strategies, always having a secondary form of communication
available when the primary system is inoperable.

Standard 7: Scheduling and Programming

OI students will often require an individualized approach
when determining what activities and classes may require accommodations and

OI teachers will often be called upon when a student is
being initially assessed for special education services.

Standard 8: Assessment

Assessment is a continuing and frustrating issue.

Standard 9: Professional and Ethical Practice

Attending consortium meetings are a wonderful example of
professional and ethical practice.

The physical and health and multiple disabilities division
is our CEC division for OI.

Standard 10: Collaboration

OI teachers must collaborate with an array of professionals
in order to most effectively serve the needs of our students with physical