CD and DESTINY Host Annual Holiday Program
The Destiny and CD programs hosted
their annual holiday program at Kerkstra Elementary
School. It was special afternoon for our students. The
Destiny and CD children sang and danced to various
holiday songs, like Jingle Bell Rock and The Reindeer
We had great turn out. Many families and community
members were able to join in our festivities. We are
grateful for all the efforts from the Cooperative staff
members in their planning and preparations for today’s
event. We wish everyone a happy holiday season and a
DESTINY Holiday Drive 2014
The DESTINY Holiday Drive has been another great success
this school year! 12 families are benefitting from the
generosity of the DESTINY staff members and the UCP
Holiday Drive. Staff members purchased clothing, toys
and food items to assist these families during the
Grocery gift cards were also distributed to several
families. A big THANK YOU goes out to Theresa McCoy and
Debby Tengerstrom for their extra efforts in organizing
and facilitating this exciting endeavor!
Braun Staff and Students Observe
Braun students and staff are observing Anti-bullying
Week by participating in several activities. The theme
for anti-bullying week is: "Don't stand by! Stand up.
Stand strong. Stand together." As a school, we will all
“stand up to bullying” by wearing orange on Wednesday,
All students and staff will receive orange shoe pins to
wear during the week. Each student and staff member will
also decorate a shoe to represent their stance against
bullying. We will then create an all-school mural which
will include our theme and shoes. Throughout the week,
students will view lessons that illustrate various
situations and strategies to “Stand up against
Mission Possible = A Model Classroom
The Illinois Service Resource Center has initiated a
Model Classroom program that provides an opportunity for
educators to be recognized for their implementation of
effective strategies. Recognition is awarded to
classrooms that exhibit exemplary use of evidence based
behavioral support practices for students who are deaf
and hard of hearing. Educators who meet the criteria for
Model Classroom Status are more likely to be prepared
and effective teachers and are more likely to
competently implement effective interventions.
Recognition of Model Classroom Status is available in
seven categories: 1) Classroom Expectations, 2)
Structure and Routine, 3) Active Engagement, 4) Response
to Behavior, 5) Positive Reinforcement Practices, 6)
Data for Decision Making, and 7) Teacher and Support
Staff Supervision of Environment.
Congratulations to our very own educational team,
Kathleen Durkin-Mirabella (teacher)Maureen
Dawn Mayerak (SLP).
The team has achieved Model Classroom Status in four
categories: Classroom Expectations, Response to
Behavior, Teacher and Support Staff Supervision of
Environment, and Structure and Routine.
Dawn Mayerak, Kathleen
Durkin-Mirabella, and Maureen
Southwest Cooperative achieved ISRC Model Classroom
status in four categories.
Braun Staff Brave Weather to Participate in Bullying
Stops Here Walk
Braun staff braved the cold weather and flurries to Stop
Bullying Here! On October 4th, Julie Beasland, Colleen
Rhonda O'Connor, and Laura Lesniak participated in the
Bullying Stops Here Community Walk in Orland Park,
sponsored by Whole Foods in support of the Bridge Teen
The Bridge Teen Center is proactively combating everyday
acts of bullying by offering a safe and supportive space
for students not just to be, but to become. As part of
the Expressive Arts programing the Bridge provides, Art
Therapist, Melissa Ferriter hosted an interactive art
installation as part of the walk experience which was
inspired by a project completed by Julie Beasland's
Junior class last year.
The art piece helped walkers to identify how a person
who is bullied feels alone and empty inside. Each walk
participant had the opportunity to fill up empty human
sculptures with colorful words of encouragement.
Braun Students' Art on Display in CA
Braun's 4th and 5th grade art therapy work is currently
on display in Los Angeles, California at UglyCon
2014! Inspired by a student's love for Ugly Dolls, Ms.
Ferriter helped students make a their own version of an
ugly-buddy to teach lessons on self acceptance, bullying
awareness, and noticing that it's what's on the inside
of friends that counts. Each student in Ms. Mitchell's
class hand stitched a plush buddy to take home back in
Then in May the class answered an open call to make fan
art for UglyCon 2014 by sewing a second Ugly Doll to
send off the the convention to celebrate IceBat's 10th
birthday. With help from Ms. Mazan, Ms. Mitchell and Ms.
Ferriter, the students again demonstrated their sewing
skills and shipped their creations off to California for
the grand opening on June 21, 2014. Braun's photos were
posted in the UglyCon Facebook fan page and generated a
number of positive comments from all over the U.S. Even
David Horvath, creator of the UglyDoll commented, "IceBat
x 1000, made my day!" The display is at Giant Robot
Gallery and runs through July 9th. Congratulations
Braun's 4th and 5th grade students!
Please join us in celebrating
some of our staff members who have demonstrated one
extra degree of effort to achieve results:
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.
McKee Adds Degree of Effort by Providing Homebound
The first DESTINY Plus 1 of this
school year goes out to Erin McKee. Erin has agreed to
take on the extra duty of homebound instruction for a
student who will soon be a new student in the DESTINY
Although this student is not yet
medically able to attend school, Ms. McKee has offered
her services of homebound instruction after her school
day until he is able to come to school. Thank you, Ms.
McKee for going above and beyond! Your student is going
to benefit from your extra efforts before he even rolls
through your classroom door!!
Nurse Debby Goes The Extra Dial!
Nurse Debby Tengerstrom
worked a full summer day calling the parents of all 22
new DESTINY ESY students. Not only did she reach most of
them. She took the rest home with her to try again
later. Thank you, Nurse Debby!
DESTINY Elementary Staff Present at
A big Plus One goes out to a few
DESTINY Elementary staff members who gave of their time
to present an evening "Toilet Training Panel" to parents
at Gigi's Playhouse on Wednesday, May 7th. Thank you to
Beth Sullivan, Kelsey Broughton,
Erin McKee, and Nurse Debby Tengerstrom! Each
participant brought in resources, stories and "tips n
tricks" to share with the parents in attendance.
The evening was very successful with many parents
gaining some new ideas or things to think about related
to toilet training their children with special needs.
Gigi's Playhouse is a Down Syndrome achievement center,
and it offers both recreational and skills-development
opportunities for children with Down Syndrome and their
families. Gigi's Playhouse is located at 5400 W. 159th
Street, Oak Forest in the lower level of a former church
building. The website is