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