Braun Students Help Raise Funds for
St. Jude's Children's Hospital
The freshman & sophomore
students of classroom 201 participated in a service
project to help raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s
Hospital. During the winter holiday season, they created
Reindeer Grams and sold them to the Braun/Project
Challenge/Maintenance population. During the month of
December, they worked hard creating an assortment of
these grams, consisting of hot cocoa, various chocolate
chips, and marshmallows. This was a huge hit! We had
more demand than supplies and time. Families of students
were sending in money to purchase these adorable grams
and help raise money.
Advertising, team work, sales, money management,
empathy, leadership, and emotional intelligence are some
of the skills that were developed through this project.
In total, we raised $134.00. We are so proud of all the
hard work these students & staff exhibited!
Success In DHH
Many exciting achievements and activities have been
happening in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at
Lemont High School. Students are preparing for the
annual Deaf Volleyball Tournament which is held at
Harper Community College in April. They enjoy the
practices as much as the event. Other students are
enjoying their participation in other sports such as
swimming and track.
Yoga club is favorite amongst our students. Practically
100% of students in the DHH program at Lemont High
A huge congratulations to DHH Senior, Ryan G. for
winning first place in his weight class at the South
Suburban Wrestling Conference. Since he placed at
regionals, he was able to attend the IHSAA State
Wrestling Tournament. He was pleased with his
performance and had a great experience. Ryan was also
accepted in the National
Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and received the
President’s Scholarship. Last but certainly not least,
Ryan is also the proud recipient of the Illinois
Teachers of Deaf / Hard of Hearing Individuals (ITHI)
Jacki Marcus Scholarship award which is designed to
offset tuition in post-secondary opportunities.
Lemont HS Senior, Ryan G.
We are proud to announce that Senior, Justin S. was also
accepted into the National Technical Institute for the
Deaf (NTID) for next year. Various staff members have
been helpful throughout the application process and are
proud of their students’ successes.
DHH Junior, Greg S. was chosen to be a student
representative on the Student Advisory Committee with
Lemont High School. Principal Eric Michaelson said that
Eric is a “valuable member of the committee and has made
a positive contribution to the group.”
Freshman, Jasmine D. received the Student Technology
Achievement Award from Infinitec for using every
technology resource available. She is an advocate for
her needs and works diligently to succeed in her
Lemont HS Freshman, Jasmine D.
Congratulations to all of our students on these fabulous
DHH Student Performs at Talent Show
DHH Program 8th grader, Faith, performed a solo at the
Old Quarry Middle School talent show. She did a
beautiful job and was cheered on by her friends and
Faith expressed how brave and proud she felt about her
performance in this essay:
Dawn Mayerak Presents at ISHA
Dawn Mayerak, MHS, SLP for the DHH program recently
presented at the 55th Annual ISHA (Illinois
Speech-Language-Hearing Association) conference. The
topic of her presentation was "Alphabet Soup: From Early
Intervention (EI) to Early Childhood (EC) with the
deaf/hard of hearing child. She discussed how hearing
loss requires children to have a structured intervention
to build the necessary language foundation to succeed
academically. She reviewed and discussed skills that
improve speaking, listening and language skills for
children with hearing loss.
Ms. Mayerak is a valued member of the DHH team and kudos
to her for sharing her expertise with others!
DESTINY Beats Winter Blues
DESTINY High School Para-educators
beat the Winter Blues with a fun and collaborative
team-building project with a Mardi Gras flare. The
staff members had a great time working together during
this activity led by Theresa McCoy, School Social
Front Row: Karin Murrin, Stacy
DeCoster, Christina Kulinski, Diana Knaack,
Christine Hanley Back row: Vivian Gonzalez, Melissa
Castillo, Kristin Huie, Mallory Lyall,
Dawn Doherty, Lizzie Koneizny, Bonnie Everett, Angela
Roser, Larissa Vanderleest, Linda Seeber and Connie
Transition Spreads Love!
Thanks to Rosanne Calahan
and Eileen Griffiths who headed a successful 3E Love
fundraiser, which helped raise money for student
activities while spreading the 3E Love message.
January 20th has been deemed International Day of
Acceptance and Transition will be wearing the 3E Love
clothing to celebrate. To learn more about the movement
and company, please visit
Educate your community. Empower each other. Love life."
- 3E Love Founder, Annie Hopkins (1984-2009)
Please join us in celebrating
some of our staff members who have demonstrated one
extra degree of effort to achieve results:
A big DESTINY Plus 1 goes out to
Kelsey Broughton who was able to secure a very nice toy
shelf for her classroom with a little extra effort.
Broughton posted a request for such toy shelf on the
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.
Another topic of the presentation was the educational
track they took to become special education teachers and
what materials and technology they used daily in their
jobs. Brianna Gerhard said that the most common pieces
of technology she uses daily in his classroom is an iPad.
Students use an app on the iPad that allows students who
have difficulty verbalizing answers because they can
press a button.
Also, Gerhard and Wegner discussed opportunities with
the special education career field and related careers.
Gerhard Takes on Homebound Student
A big "Plus 1" recognition goes out
to the DESTINY Program's newest special education
teacher, Ms. Brianna Gerhard. Ms. Gerhard has taken on
the Homebound Teacher role for one of our students
throughout the Winter months.
Because of Ms. Gerhard's dedication
to the success of our DESTINY students, this student
will receive high quality instruction even though the
weather prevents her from attending school. Thank you
Ms. Gerhard for your care, commitment and willingness to
give of your afterschool time!
Hazelett Helps Blind Student
Participate in Sign Language Club
Matthew Hazelett, an interpreter for
the Transition Program was recognized for going the
extra degree. Matthew runs the sign language club on
Friday afternoons for students. He took great strides
and really thought outside the box to make sure a
student that is blind was able to participate.
Matthew ensured the student was included in the
activities planned and even had adapted materials
created for her. He even reached out to Melissa
Ferriter, the Cooperative's art therapist, and
commissioned a student to make hand sculptures out of
clay representing the common hand positions in sign
language for the student to feel.
DESTINY Staff Dashes for Gigi's Playhouse
On October 5th, 16 members of team DESTINY Dashers
participated in the 1st Annual Gigi's Playhouse Dash for
Down Syndrome. The team was made up of Southwest
Cooperative employees, friends and family. Together we
raised $1,090.00 for Gigi's Playhouse Oak Forest (soon
to be Gigi's Playhouse Tinley Park). In total, all
walkers earned $50,973.00 to support Gigi's!! Gigi's
educational and therapeutic programs free of charge to
individuals with Down Syndrome and their families who
live in the south suburbs of Chicago.
DESTINY Dashers (Southwest Cooperative employees) to be
Karyn Kempke (Team Coach), Cathy Pekoz, Claudia Cuzco,
Kelsey Broughton, Erin McKee, Donna Ebbens, Kristin Huie,
Debbie Swalec, Sharon Thoma, Lynn Knight-Cody and Brandon Wigboldy.