Spotlight on Model Site Schools

During the 2008-2009 school year, the training site project began in Jefferson County Schools under the guidance and partnership with the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum.  The following year the KATC began to expand the project into other areas of the state.  Last year the KATC worked in all of the special education cooperatives throughout the state. Again, this year we have continued to work in counties throughout the entire state. Our work in the classroom involves monthly visits to support the local educational team in planning, implementing, and evaluating instruction. We work with the school team to select objectives and instructional plans for specified students as well as classrooms. Through the project our goal is to increase the school’s capacity for serving children with autism spectrum disorders by supporting their implementation of research-based strategies.


Laura Ferguson, M.Ed., BCBA

One classroom that has demonstrated exemplary practices is Ms. Joyanna Phelps class at Lakewood Elementary School in Hardin County. I started working with Ms. Phelps classroom in August 2014. During the initial observation you felt the devotion and passion for teaching among the entire staff. During our observation the use of evidence-based practices was evident. The staff consistently implemented evidence-based practices in the areas of visual supports, systematic instruction, and behavior analytic practices. With great support from the district staff; Denise Emberton and Jessica Purchis, we were able to work collaboratively with the classroom staff to improve on already evident practices. Ms. Phelps and the staff were always willing to listen and implement suggestions and practices that were discussed and modeled. During the monthly visits the staff consistently implemented practices and materials that were discussed and continued to make improvements based on analysis of data. I look forward to continuing to work with the staff at Lakewood for the remainder of the school year and to continue further collaboration with Hardin County Schools.


Michelle Antle, Ed.S.

Lone Oak Middle School in McCracken County has been one of the participants in the KATC’s Training Site project this school year.  Mrs. Elaine Farris is the collaborating teacher with an awesome autism cadre and support team working closely with her students and behind the scenes.  Mrs. Farris is an exemplary teacher who puts her students first in every aspect.  This school year one of the areas she has focused on is improving her students’ social skills as well as their independent functioning skills both in and out of her classroom.  One amazing intervention strategy she has implemented is creating a "Super Skills” curriculum of her own. She polled the teachers she collaborates with and they decided upon a core group of skills that they felt the students needed assistance with. They decided to address personal space and appropriate peer physical interaction as well as transitions within the school day and following routines.   Many of her students had difficulty understanding these concepts so they used story boarding activities to think out and problem solve possible solutions.  Mrs. Farris is reinforcing these skills by using video modeling, social narratives, role playing, and the use of a punch system for reinforcement when they are “caught” using their positive, new skills.

The team recognizes that the generalization of these skills to other environments are crucial which is why the team has made such as effort to include regular education staff, administration, and peers.  Mrs. Farris is also fortunate to have a flourishing peer tutoring program.  She has spent lots of time and effort teaching these peer tutors how to provide academic and social support to her students while strengthening their independent functioning across all school settings.  The friendships that have developed between the peer tutors and her students will no doubt be remembered for the rest of their lives!   Hats off to a great team at Lone Oak Middle School!


Kim Howard, M.Ed.

Great things are happening for students with disabilities at Straub Elementary School in Mason County! This school year I have had the pleasure of working with Amanda Truesdell, teacher of the classroom for students with significant disabilities.  Amanda has taught the FMD unit at Straub since 1999! When we started out the school year Amanda’s Classroom already had many evidence based practices in place.

She and her staff work hard to maximize student’s outcomes to help them reach their full potential.   This school year I have been in many classrooms throughout Eastern Kentucky and have seen numerous classrooms actively engaged in teaching but Amanda’s classroom stands out among the crowd. Amanda’s lunchtime calendar lesson is what I think of when I reflect on her dedication to making every minute count for her students. Lunch time is a hard time of the day for most FMD classrooms with different staff members trying to take their lunches as well as going with students out to the lunch room to assist them. This is a time of day that many FMD units turn to watching movies or various non-instructional activities. But not Amanda Truesdell’s classroom!  During this time of day in her classroom she does not take the easy way out. Instead she uses this time to teach a small group calendar by herself with several students whom all have different needs and abilities. She has worked hard to modify calendar activities for all of her students taking their specific needs into consideration when she develops her lessons.   This is why she wins a Gold Star in my opinion!


Laura Ferguson, Michelle Antle and Kim Howard are School Field Training Coordinators for KATC.  They provide direct training and technical assistance to education staff, social and community personnel, counselors, job coaches and families.

KY Autism Training Center Spring 2015 Newsletter (April 2015)