Southwest Cook County Cooperative
 Association for Special Education

Opening the World Through Education
to Children and Young Adults with Diverse Abilities for over 50 years




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DESTINY High School Students Learn Restaurant Job Skills

Liz Wegner’s students at Oak Forest High School spent part of second semester learning about jobs in a restaurant. They finished the unit by hosting other DESTINY classroom staff and students at their own cowboy themed classroom restaurant. Students practiced jobs such as hosting, taking orders, preparing food, delivering orders, and bussing tables.

DHH Students Learn to Make Bank!!

During the 2015-2016 school year, the deaf and hard of hearing high school program based at Lemont High School has been part of an outreach program offered thru First Midwest Bank. Catherine Schneider who is a Bank Manager for First Midwest has been out to the site to present information to the students about basic banking skills. Ms. Schneider came prepared with Backpacks from First Midwest filled with presentation materials and practice materials ( checks, deposit slips, withdrawal slips). Each presentation included instruction, role play and practice time with the concepts.


The DHH students enjoyed the presentations since they were being challenged to learn real life skills. First Midwest offers nine different topic presentations. Each presentation lasted for about an hour. Ms. Schneider was able to fine tune her presentation to her audience and worked closely with the educators 
to assure that the materials were being presented in a manner that the students can understand. The DHH program would like to thank Ms. Schneider and First Midwest Bank corporation for supporting 
students in their local regions.

Transition Update

Transition staff celebrated International Day of Acceptance in a very colorful way by wearing our 3E Love gear!  

Join the movement with us and learn more about it from the excerpt below from 3E Love's website:  What is Acceptance? Acceptance is created from an Empowered movement that Educates others to Embrace diversity and Love Life by seeing beyond abilities.

Friends, tell the world you embrace who you are; a person with social rights, who has an opinion, who has interests, who has goals, who loves life, and who will not be without a voice in society. You are not living disabled, you are living. Supporters, join us in telling the world that you are accepting of people with disabilities – you also have a role in our culture and life. You can have an impact on the future by wearing your heart on your sleeve and proudly demonstrating acceptance.

3E Love's website:

Transition College Students Hard at Work

Transition is very proud of its students who attend the Program and college  courses. With a new semester brings a new syllabus, coursework, professors, and, of course, homework!  In the photo below, college students Jaania Ball and Jordan Fisher are studying new material and completing their homework. 


Jaania is taking online courses through Prairie State and Jordan is attending classes on campus at South Suburban College.  Both are interested in an occupation that allows them to explore their love for animals.  We are excited to see how far these young ladies will go with the support of the Transition staff and peers. 

Transition Holds Annual International Fest

On January 21st Transition staff and students held their annual International Fest.  Every pod was assigned a continent and homerooms different countries.  Pod 1 researched North and Central America, Pod 2 researched Europe, Pod 3 researched Africa, and lastly, Pod 4 researched Asia.  Once the homerooms got their assignments they quickly began working very hard on their research.  They investigated everything from the country's flag to it's climate, landmarks, traditions, art, culture and much more! 


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Please join us in celebrating some of our staff members who have demonstrated one extra degree of effort to achieve results:

Getting Fit for Autism: CD Moms Going the Extra Degree!

CD program parents, Tricia Butcher and Katie Larocca, hosted "Get Fit for Autism." This event was held earlier this month on November 7th at H-F Racquet & Fitness Club.

The Communication Development program was excited to be the beneficiaries of their annual fundraiser. Participants made a donation to join yoga or cycling classes. Our afternoon was filled with stretches, spinning and sweating! Others cheered on and enjoyed the fitness fun! We are grateful for the energy and efforts of Tricia, Katie, their volunteers, and all participants. This event raised nearly $3,000! 

It takes a community to raise a community. Our program is honored to be supported by so many. It is through their care and generosity that we can provide greater opportunites and resources for our learners. Thanks you, Tricia and Katie!

Celebrating a Year of Achievement

On May 6th, the Communication Development Program at Victor J. Andrew High School held our annual Student Achievement Night. This program recognizes our students accomplishments over the course of the school year. Our students were honored for their participation in various clubs, sports, and general education classes. Our CD staff members shared about our students’ success within their academic class work, exhibiting strong character, and leadership amongst their peers. Our graduates gave their Senior Speeches to the crowd. They gave heartfelt accounts of their growth within the Communication Development Program and expressed their gratitude for those that have helped them on their journey.

Mrs. Granato Wagner presented the first annual Sharron Santefort Student Award. Mrs. Santefort is a beloved CD teacher who demonstrated grit, perseverance, and held herself and her students to high expectations. Mrs. Santefort passed away earlier this school year, but her influence and memory lives on. This award is a tribute to her memory and recognizes students who embody her spirit.

Mr. Janzon and Mr. Deacy gave a music and movie presentation highlighting our students’ learning experience and encouraging our graduates to “Change the World.” We expect they will! Congratulations to the Class of 2015.

Thank you to our CD volunteers and sponsors, Mrs. Kellermann and Mrs. GranatoWagner, for hosting this special event for our students and their families.

Let's Play!

A big DESTINY Plus 1 goes out to
Ms. Kelsey Broughton who was able to secure a very nice toy shelf for her classroom with a little extra effort. 
Ms. Broughton posted a request for such toy shelf on the website 

She had to submit a justification outlining why her students would greatly benefit from the shelf and how it would allow a more accessible environment for her learners. 

Ms. Broughtons proposal was sponsored with just two weeks left in its publication.  Great job Ms. Broughton!

Kempke is DESTINY's +1

A big PLUS ONE goes out to
Karyn Kempke for accompanying the parent of one of her 8th grade students to visit potential high school placements.  Karyn's willingness to accompany the parent has helped to reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with a child transitioning from middle to high school and into a completely new program. 

Thank you, Karyn, for going above and beyond for our students and their families!

Gerhardt and Wegner Inspire Future Educators
Oak Forest High School Project Manager Mallory Platt announced today that the OFHS Guidance Department sponsored a presentation about teaching special education.

Featured speakers were Southwest Cook County Cooperative DESTINY program special education teachers Brianna Gerhard and Elizabeth Wegner, who teach in a special wing at Oak Forest High School.

Gerhard and Wegner told students what a typical day looks like in the special education program classroom.  Also, they discussed their likes and dislikes and challenges they faced in their profession.

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Click the links below to visit a program web page:

Braun Educational Center
Communication Development
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)
Project Challenge
Transitional Employment Program
Vision and O&M Services


A Message from the Director


Southwest Cooperative provides services for eleven public school districts:

113a Lemont

117 North Palos

118 Palos

142 Forest Ridge

145 Arbor Park

146 Tinley Park

159 Matteson

160 Country Club Hills

210 Lemont High School

228 Bremen Community High School

230 Consolidated High School


Southwest Cook County Cooperative Association for Special Education
6020 W. 151st Street  | Oak Forest, IL 60452
(Telephone) 708-687-0900 | (TTY) 708-687-2151
(Fax) 708-687-5695

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