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 Association for Special Education

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Vision Students Dedicate a Day to the Expanded Core Curriculum

Students from the SWCCCASE Vision Department joined forces with students from the SOWIC districts to participate in a day dedicated to the expanded core curriculum. In preparation for the day, students collaborated with their Vision Teachers, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and fellow students.

They determined session topics, menu items, grocery and supply lists, as well as set up shopping trips. The sessions included sewing, home maintenance, outdoor maintenance, meal preparation, and labeling/organizing clothing and accessories.

Each student chose one course of the meal to prepare. Everyone feasted on an appetizer, side dishes, an entree, and desserts. 
Students attended from all of our high school districts. The day was a great success!

Braun Book Fair

The Braun Book Fair is Friday, November 6th thru Tuesday, November 10th in the Braun Educational Center located at 6020 W. 151st Street. The fair is hosted in Room 16 so please sign-in at the Front Desk and come visit us! Visit the Book Fair homepage at for scheduled times.

If you are unable to attend, you can still purchase Scholastic books and support our fair online by visiting thru November 20th.  Click the SHOP NOW button in the center of the page. Your purchases will be shipped for free to Braun in time for the holidays, and you will be notified when we receive them.

Last year, SWCOOP staff and families helped us place 166 books in the hands of children. Help us reach our goal to increase this number of books by 10%, placing 183 new books in our students’ homes, classrooms and Library. Visit the Book Fair homepage at to track our goal progress.

If you have any further questions, please contact Ms. Kmetty at 708-687-4971 ext. 301 or  

Help us make this year’s Braun Book Fair another READING success! 

Way to Go, Johnny Harris!

We are so incredibly proud of our Braun High School Student Johnny Harris!!! He showed such bravery and intelligence  when he did a presentation in front of Illinois State University staff and students! Along with his fantastic Illinois State Student Teacher,
Ms. Jillian Hickey, Johnny explained how
Ms. Hickey's interventions helped him to have successful school days! Johnny answered questions from Illinois Staff and Students after the presentation! Johnny is supported in POD 3 by Ms. DeBiasio, Ms. Mayo, Ms. Hickey, and Ms. Ruggio!

Walk4Hearing A Great Success!

The SWCCCASE Deaf/Hard of Hearing program recently participated in the Hearing Loss Association of America's (HLAA) annual Walk 4 Hearing.  The Walk4Hearing is the largest walk of its kind taking place in multiple cities across the country. Every spring and fall thousands of walkers - children and their families, young adults, young at heart and everyone in between - form teams and walk in their communities to increase public awareness about hearing loss, help eradicate the stigma associated with it and raise funds for programs and services.  

SWCCCASE formed of a team of over 50 participants (staff, students, and families) and became the top fundraising team in Chicago!  A grand total of $12, 055.00 was raised by this very awesome group of people!  Kudos to staff member Carole Altmann who was the fearless captain of the team, she rallied the team to beating its own goal repeatedly! 60% of the proceeds go to HLAA for National and Local Programs and Services for people with hearing loss and their families.  40% of the proceeds from the SWCCASE team goes directly to the program for the same purpose. Congratulations SWCCCASE  DHH program!  

Braun Staff Takes a
Stand Against Bullying

On Saturday October 3rd, members of the Braun staff took a stand against bullying and walked in the Bullying Ends Here Community Walk in Orland Park. 10 staff people and 1 student helped raise $1,500 to support the Bridge Teen Center where free after school programs and events are available to students in 7-12th grade from the surrounding areas. This is the third year of the event, and the second year that Braun has been the highest fundraising team. Thanks to those who have chosen to give local, and support the students not only in the classroom but out in the community as well.

**Update** - Transition Supports the Troops 

This summer Amy Lendy's ESY class prepared care packages and hand painted them red, white, and blue.

All their well wishes had not gone unnoticed!  They recently received a thank you gift!  They received a thank you card, certificate, and flag.  The flag was flown aboard a U.S. Army helicopter over the skies of Afghanistan during a combat mission!

Ms. Lendy and the Transition Program students are so proud and thankful to receive this token of appreciation!



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

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.

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!


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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