Community Events, Activities, and Resources- 9/19/18

Good afternoon!  Please see below for a list of community events and resources that you and your family my find relevant:

  • Worried about your young child’s development?  Goochland Schools and the Goochland-Powhatan Community Services Parent Infant Education Program partner every year to offer free developmental screenings for Goochland residents.  On these dates, families can bring their children to our facility to find out more about their children’s development and school readiness. Our screening staff include preschool teachers, speech language pathologists, school psychologists, and other specialists.  These developmental screenings are free for all Goochland residents between the ages of 0 and 5.  Screenings will take place on 9/20/18 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. and on 9/21/18 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Goochland Tech (next to Goochland Elementary School).  The address for Goochland Tech is 3140 River Road West.  See flyer for more details.
  • Looking for a way to give back to our community?  Byrd Elementary school is looking to recruit “Byrd Ambassadors” to work with some of our students at Byrd Elementary.  Ambassadors will do a variety of things, including leading a group of readers, helping with science experiments, or assist with instruction.  If you have a few hours of time each month, please consider helping Byrd out!  See this flyer for more information!
  • Have a teenager with autism?  The Autism Society of Central Virginia is hosting a workshop called “Autism, Puberty, and Sexuality: What You Need to Know and How to Teach It” on 10/5/18.  If interested, you can get more information and sign up through this link.
  • Have a college bound student?  VA Tech is offering interactive sessions for students, families, counselors, and educators to introduce the Coalition platform, Virginia Tech’s new undergraduate admissions application. These sessions will offer guidance on completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), an introduction to the RaiseMe micro-scholarship that allows students to earn college dollars during high school.  The Richmond session will occur on 10/29.  See flyer for more details.
  • Save the Date!  The VA Department of Education is hosting a “Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities” workshop for the central VA area on 12/10/18.  The purpose of the training is to ensure that parents have the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions by assisting families in understanding four things: (i) what are the keys to their child’s academic success; (ii) what decisions will they need to make regarding their child’s educational path; (iii) at what point will they be making these decisions; and (iv) what information will they need so that they can make the most well informed decisions possible for their child?  Registration for this training is not available quite yet but I wanted you all to save the date as I think the training will be well worth your time!

I hope you all enjoy this mild weather!

Community Events, Activities, & Resources- 9/13/18

  • The Byrd Theatre is hosting a sensory friendly viewing of Jurassic World on 9/15/18 at 2:00.  Click here for more information.
  • The Greater Richmond SCAN is hosting a free screening of the documentary Resilience on 9/26/18 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  If you are interested in the impact of childhood trauma on the brain and you haven’t had a chance to see Resilience, I guarantee you that it’s worth your time.  This is a powerful documentary that discusses the impact of trauma on health and how we can build resilience in youngsters to stave off some of those negative health outcomes.  Click here to reserve your seat.
  • VCU ACE-IT is hosting a fall open house on 10/6/18 from 10:00 a.m. to noon.  VCU ACE-IT is an inclusive college certificate program for young adults with intellectual disabilities in the greater Richmond area.  RSVP to the open house using this link.
  • Our first Special Education Advisory Committee meeting will occur on Monday, 9/17 at 6:00 at the School Board Office.  Come join us!
  • While recent weather reports suggest that we are missing the brunt of Hurricane Florence, it’s never too early to make sure that everyone in the family is prepared!  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has created a Family Preparedness Wallet Card template to help families compile all important information (doctors, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) in one place.  Once printed, this information can be stored in students’ wallets or book bag pockets.
  • If you live in or will be in an area where Xfinity wifi hot spots are available, Xfinity and Comcast are making their wifi hotspots available to everyone (regardless of whether you are a Xfinity or Comcast customer) throughout the duration of Hurricane Florence.  To find the nearest Xfinity wifi hotspot, click here.
  • This week is suicide prevention week.  We can all prevent suicide by familiarizing ourselves with the signs of suicide, helping others in crisis, and connecting others with resources.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is here to help.  Caring individuals willing to connect others with counselors can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.  Individuals can also chat online with a caring professional to connect with counselors this link.

Community Events, Activities, and Resources (8/24/18)

Happy Friday to everyone!  It’s hard to believe that the first week of the 2018-2019 school year is almost in the books!  I’ve spent a lot of time in classrooms at all five of our schools this week and have so very much enjoyed watching students learn and build relationships with each other as well as staff!  Here are some upcoming community events, resources, and activities:

Community Events:

  • The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) through the Family Engagement Network is sponsoring a ParentCamp Saturday, September 22, 2018, for parents and school division personnel, in Roanoke, Virginia.  The VDOE encourages school division staff to take advantage of this unique opportunity and to encourage their community members to do the same.  ParentCamp is an unconference to build family, school, and community partnerships.  It is called an unconference because the event relies upon the expertise and perspective of the entire room, not just the presenter like the typical stand and deliver conference.  Every individual within the session brings an important and unique perspective to contribute to sharing strategies and ideas to benefit student learning, teaching, and parenting.  See flyer for details.
  • The Virginia Association of Community Rehabilitation Programs (VA ACCSES) is hosting a training (“Get Rid of the Myths! SSI/SSDI & Work Incentives: Understand the Myriad of Rules Governing SSI/SSDI, Medicaid, Medicare, & Related Work Incentives for Individuals with Disabilities”).  For more information and to register, please click here.
  • We have scheduled some of our Special Education Advisory Committee meetings for the 2018-2019 school year.  Meetings are scheduled to be held on 9/17/18, 11/5/18, 2/11/19, and 4/15/19.  All meetings will be held at the School Board Office and will start at 6:00 p.m.
  • Region IV’s REACH is hosting a Lunch & Learn on the “ABC’s of Behavior” on 9/17/18 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Chester Library The training will cover basic concepts of behavior, its purposes, and the benefits of collecting data with students with intellectual disabilities or developmental disabilities.  If interested, please click here to see more information and to register.
  • There will be a “sensory friendly” viewing of The Wizard of Oz at the Byrd Theatre on 9/15/18 at 2:00 pm.  Tickets are $3 each.  The event is sponsored by the Autism Society of Central Virginia.  Email for more information.
  • The Autism Society of Central Virginia is hosting a free“Accessing Services and Supports at Home and in the Community with Medicaid Waivers” workshop on 9/7/18 from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.  Navigating Medicaid waiver eligibility requirements can be difficult so if you’re interested in finding out whether your child may qualify, you may want to consider attending!  You can register for the workshop through this link.
  • Hallmark Youthcare (a Goochland County mental health provider) is offering training to educate community members on the issue of sexual exploitation of youth.  The event will be held on 9/12/18 from 9:30 am-1:30 pm and will be held at the Central High Cultural Arts and Education Complex.  See flyer for more details.


  • Do you know about Pre-ETS (Pre-Employment Transition Services)?  Students with documented disabilities can start receiving Pre-ETS services at age 14.  This video provides a brief introduction to Pre-ETS.  Services can include job exploration, work-based learning experiences, counseling on educational and training options, workplace readiness training, and instruction on self-advocacy.  If you have a child with a disability who is at least 14 years old and are interested in Pre-ETS, please reach out to Bridget Parker (Transition Specialist) at
  • If your child receives special education services through Goochland Schools, please consider completing this survey through the VA Department of Education.  Paper copies of surveys will also be sent home through your son or daughter’s book bags once school starts!
  • If you have a child who will be four years old by 9/30/18, please consider registering your child for one of our preschool programs at Randolph Elementary or Goochland Elementary School.  We have preschool spots available for students who meet criteria for our Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) program as well as tuition slots available as well.  Please follow this link for the preschool application.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions related to preschool enrollment/recruitment as well.
  • The Science Museum of VA offers discounted rates for families who need financial assistance.  (A family membership is only $20 for families who qualify!)  Please see flyer for more details if you’re interested.

I hope you all have a GREAT weekend!

Community Events and Resource for the Week of 5/7/18

Please see below for a list of community resources and events:

  • There are still spots available in preschool classrooms at Randolph, Goochland, and Byrd Elementary!  There are eligibility criteria for the programs (mostly involving income restrictions) but if you’re interested in seeing if your child qualifies for the program, please email me.  Click here for the preschool flyer and here for the preschool application.  Applications can be returned to me.
  • Goochland ParentNet is sponsoring an Addiction Uncuffed event at the Goochland Library on 6/16/18 at 1:00 p.m.  The presenter, Courtney Nunnally, will be speaking about her personal struggle with substance abuse and her recovery experience.  Other guest speakers will include members of the Chesterfield County jail’s Heroin Addict Recovery program and local law enforcement officers.  The event is free.  Please see flyer for more information.  For those who are unfamiliar with Goochland ParentNet, Goochland ParentNet is run by a Goochland resident, Renee Sottong, who has a vested interest in advocating for youth mental health.  Please see Goochland ParentNet’s website if you would like more information about this resource.
  • The Byrd Theatre, in partnership with the Autism Society of Central Virginia, is hosting a sensory friendly viewing of Peter Rabbit on Saturday, May 19th at 2:00.  The sensory friendly movie experience provides an accepting and safe environment for families to enjoy a movie.  (The lights are turned up and the sound is turned down.)  Tickets are $3 each.  For more information, email
  • The Goochland-Powhatan Community Services Board and Rural Substance Abuse Awareness Coalition are also hosting another Revive Training on 6/5/18 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Goochland Library.  During this training, participants will learn how to use a nasal spray, Naloxone, which has been shown to save lives for people who have overdosed on opioids.  See flyer for more details.

Community Events and Resources for the Week of April 30


  • GCPS is hosting a summer STEM camp June 18-22 at Goochland Middle School.  This opportunity is available for all students in kindergarten through fifth grade.  For additional information, please see attached flyer.
  • The Autism Society of Central VA is hosting a Special Needs Trust and Future Planning workshop on 5/4.  See flyer for more details and to sign up.
  • The Future Farmers of America (FFA) are hosting a plant sale on 5/5/18 at 9:00 a.m. at Goochland High School.  Hanging plants are $15 each or two for $25.  Plan to get there early as the flowers sell out quickly!


  • A parent shared this inspirational video of a Les Brown speech.  Les Brown is a motivational speaker who overcame struggles with academics and self-confidence.  The video highlights the importance of high expectations, perseverance, and self-determination.  “Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality”—Les Brown.
  • I really like this article from Child Mind Institute that’s geared towards parents and is about helping children with social skills weaknesses to improve their interactions with other children.  Check it out if time permits!

While it doesn’t necessarily fit within the template of the weekly blog, I just need to share some photos of one of my favorite spring time events- a Champions Together track meet. Today, Goochland High School students (and some of our middle school students) competed in a Champions Together meet.  Champions Together is a unified sports track and field event that allows students with disabilities to compete and play alongside students without disabilities.  Today, Goochland High School students competed against Monocan High School students.  The camaraderie, sportsmanship, and genuine care that all athletes showed during this event was truly heartwarming.  I super proud of our students and thankful to all of the staff, students, and administrators who helped to make the event a huge success!

Champions Together Team

Champions Together Athletes

Champions Together Athletes

Community Events for the Week of 4/23/18

  • The Autism Society of Central Virginia is hosting a Teaching Social Competencies with Social Thinking workshop for parents.  Michelle Garcia Winner is the presenter for this workshop.  She is amazing!  A few spots have opened up and I highly recommend that you all sign up!  The event is free and will be held on 4/26 from 7-8:30.
  • The Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a prescription drug take back on 4/28/18.  This is an excellent opportunity to get rid of any unused prescription medications!  See flyer for more details!
  • Naloxone is a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.  Attend a FREE training session on 6/5/18 at the Goochland Library.  If you have loved ones suffering from potential opioid abuse, you will not want to miss this training.  See flyer for more details.
  • The Next Move Program is hosting a special exhibition at the VA Museum of History and Culture on 6/14/18 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  The exhibition will include portraits and stories of adults with disabilities who are thriving in Richmond.  See this website for more information.

Community Events/Announcements for the Week of April 16th

    • Goochland is also hosting our annual Goochland Transition fair on tomorrow from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Goochland High School.  If you’re available, please consider attending.  Bridget Parker (our transition specialist) has arranged for various organizations to talk with parents and students about services and supports that may be available to students after high school.  For more information, please see this flyer.
    • There will be a Youth Mental Health First Aid class at Longwood University on May 9th and May 10th.  Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches a 5-step action plan to offer initial help to young people showing signs of mental illness or in a crisis, and connect them with the appropriate professional, peer, social, or self-help care.  For more information, please see this flyer.
  • Caron’s Student Assistance Program, an advocacy group for substance abuse prevention, is hosting two workshops that may be of interest to you on May 8th from 9:30 to noon at the Tuckahoe library:
    • Peak Performance for the Student Athlete: Substance Use Prevention and Healthy Habits in a Competitive Environment
    • Clearing the Air About Vaping
See flyer for more details
  • The Parent Playbook is an online, self-paced course through VCU’s Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE).  This course is designed to introduce families to information about Autism Spectrum Disorder, including tips specifically for caregivers, information about the DSM-5, characteristics, interventions, and recommended programs and services.  The course is free and was created for parents and caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder.
Finally, staff members and students at all of our schools wore blue on Friday to raise awareness and understanding of students with autism.  Some of our students in Beth Ferguson’s and Suzanne Taylor’s fourth grade class created videos with inspiring messages of inclusion and acceptance.  The links to view some of these videos are below.  I’m so proud of our students and staff!

Community Events/Announcements for the Week of April 9, 2018

Community Events
  • Staff across all five schools will be wearing blue on Friday, 4/13 to help raise awareness and acceptance of students with autism.  Staff at each school have also planned additional activities focused on increasing inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities (including student-made videos, messages about inclusion during morning announcements, and resources for students and staff in libraries).  If you are a parent and will be volunteering at any of our schools on Friday, please consider joining us in wearing blue.
  • Goochland is also hosting our annual Goochland Transition fair on 4/17/18 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Goochland High School.  If you’re available, please consider attending.  Bridget Parker (our transition specialist) has arranged for various organizations to talk with parents and students about services and supports that may be available to students after high school.  For more information, please see this flyer.
  • Kindergarten and preschool registration day is 4/19.  You may now register your child for kindergarten (or apply for him/her to attend our preschool programs) at Randolph, Byrd, and Goochland Elementary Schools from 8:00am to 7:00 pm.  Additional information can be found here.
  • Goochland Education Foundation is hosting is annual gala on 4/28/18 from 6:00 p.m.- 10:00 p.m. at the Hermitage Country Club.  More details about the event can be found here.
  • Autism Speaks’ campaign to raise awareness of autism has a message of “What You See is Just a Piece of Who I Am” (with the idea being that autism is just one aspect of people and the importance of seeing the “whole” child or person).  Autism Speaks put together an amazing mosaic that really drives home this point.  Check it out or consider contributing to it when your family’s own story using #AutismIs.
  • The College Place- Richmond (TCP- Richmond) is located at VCU.  They provide free information and assistance for students of all ages throughout the state.  Through in-person, telephone and online support, the centers help students complete applications and financial aid forms, as well as locate scholarships that can decrease overall costs.  For more information, please click here.
  • GRAPLE is a grief support group for individuals who have lost loved ones to substance abuse or addiction.  Weekly support group meetings are held on Tuesdays in Richmond.  Click here for more details.

Community Events/Announcements for the Week of March 26th!

The events and resources below are sent out weekly to staff and families of students with disabilities via email.  If you would like to be added to the email list, please send me an email ( and I’ll add you to this list!


  • The Autism Society of Central Virginia is hosting a “Say What You Need To Say: Helping Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Use Scripts Effectively” workshop for parents and educators.  For those of you who have children with autism or teach children with autism, you know that many students with autism have a tendency to repeat phrases over and over and/or “get stuck” on repeating certain information in which they may have restricted interests.  This workshop will inform parents and educators of strategies to help students with ASD communicate with others more effectively.  The event will be held on 4/13/18 at 7:00 p.m. and River Road United Methodist Church.  The event is free!
  • Michelle Garcia Winner is coming to Richmond!  For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, she’s an expert when it comes to teaching social skills to children with autism.
    • If you are a parent, she’ll be presenting on 4/26/18 at 7:00 p.m.  See the Autism Society of Central Virginia’s newsletter for more details.
    • If you are a teacher, she’ll be presenting on 4/27 from 7:30-3:45 on the Social Thinking curriculum and the Informal Dynamic Assessment.  Teachers can register for the event here.
    • Both events are free!
  • The Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) network will be hosting a screening of the documentary Resilience at the Byrd Theatre on 4/10/18 at 6:00 p.m.  This documentary focuses on the impact of trauma on children and how trauma can lead to greater risks for disease as well as other negative outcomes in adulthood.  The documentary focuses on building resilience in children to hopefully offset some of these potentially negative outcomes.  Our division leadership team has viewed this documentary.  I can personally attest to its powerful message.  It’s a must see!


  • The Center on Transition Innovations at VCU has a wealth of resources on their website!  Some of the highlights:
    • There’s a work-based learning course that is meant for students with disabilities as they transition to the working world.  Parents and teachers can also sign up to take this course.  Information and resources included in the course are applicable to teachers and parents as well.
    • There are also TONS of archived webinars that you all may find interested, including webinars focused on accessing accommodations in community college, promoting internet safety for children with disabilities, summer employment for children with disabilities, and transitioning to independent living for young adults with disabilities.
  • Autism Speaks has put together a Financial Planning Tool Kit for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.  Click here to download it for free.

Community Events/Announcements for the Week of March 19, 2018!

Community Events
  • Our Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) will be meeting on Tuesday, March 27th at 6:00 p.m. in the downstairs conference room at the School Board Office.  Dr. Fowler and Ms. Franklin-Murray will be discussing diploma options and credit accommodations for high school students with disabilities.
  • Goochland is looking to fill 71 preschool slots for the 2018-2019 school year!  We have 4-year old preschool classrooms at Randolph, Goochland, and Byrd Elementary Schools.  Additionally, we have a 3- and 4- year old classroom at Byrd Elementary School.  Student eligibility varies between classrooms.  Contact Wendy Travis (804-556-5321, x. 3209; or myself for more information.  Click here for the preschool application.  Completed applications may be returned to Wendy or myself.
  • Preschool and Kindergarten registration day is 4/19/18!  You may register your child for kindergarten at any of our three elementary schools.  Please remember to bring two proofs of residency, your child’s birth certificate, and a recent physical/immunization form (if you have these items available).
  • The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond (DSAGR) has rescheduled their World Down Syndrome Day celebrations for Friday, 3/23.  Events will be happening at Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Blue Toad Cidery, and Tap 900.  See flyer for more details.
Information Items
  • The Autism Society of Central Virginia offers scholarships to qualifying families/individuals.  More information about these scholarships can be found through this link.
  • The recent school shootings have weighed heavily on many of our hearts.  Talking to children about these events can be very difficult.  The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has published a tip sheet for parents and teachers re: talking to students about school violence.  I especially like how NASP has broken down advice to parents/teachers by the age of the student.  If you are looking to talk with your children about this topic, check out the “Suggested Talking Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children” section.
  • The Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute published an article about exercise and young adults with autism.  A summary of the research can be found here.  The article noted that young adults with autism tend to exercise less than young adults without autism.  Additionally, young adults with autism are at great risk for some health challenges, including obesity, diabetes, and depression.  Research has shown benefits to regular exercise of students with autism.  This FPG study looks at the effect of praise (in-person praise versus praise through a technology device) on student motivation to exercise.  Praised delivered through both means increased exercise.  Researchers found that young adults who received praise through a technology device tended to continue to exercise even when the praise became less frequent.  They were also able to generalize exercise to other settings.  I thought it was a cool study so I figured I’d pass it on 🙂