The Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WESP-DHH), which includes the Outreach Program and the Wisconsin School for the Deaf (WSD), has completed a major “long range planning” process with the help of consultants Tom Mickelson and Dr. Dean Ryerson of ALG, Inc.
This Long Range Planning process began in the Spring of 2012, when administrative staff from the Outreach Program and WSD, along with ALG, Inc. conducted numerous planning meetings to discuss both what we were doing to support and serve students who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, their families, and the professionals that serve them, and how we can support the future needs of this ever-changing population. It was decided that a thorough review of all aspects of our program, including gaining information from the community, was critical.
Together, we carried out a multi-phased process, beginning in the Spring of 2013, which included surveys, focus groups, small group discussions and interview sessions with members of the WESP-DHH staff, community, educational programs, partnering agencies, parents, service providers and other stakeholders. Our goal was to gather information, perspective, and guidance about WESP-DHH’s core principles; daily operations; goals of each program; organizational structure; instructional issues; communication issues; partnerships; sustainable funding (and models) for the school; and, use of technology. This process was extremely helpful in gaining an understanding of present and future needs of the population we serve, and had a significant impact on the final product: The WESP-DHH Long Range Plan.
1. Center: To establish a comprehensive program, providing resources and services by highly skilled professionals to all people involved with the education of children who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind in Wisconsin.
2. Technology: To use contemporary and emerging technologies to access and facilitate communication and as a teaching tool for students, families, and professionals.
3. Vocational/Post-secondary readiness: To develop, expand upon or enhance current transition programs for children who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind in Wisconsin by providing vocational and post-secondary readiness training.
4. Diversity: To address the diverse cultural, ethnic, communication modality, and disability needs of Wisconsin’s children who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind.
5. Internal/External communications: To increase an understanding (both within and outside of WESP) of the WESP-DHH programs and goals.
6. Birth to 3: To strive to provide Birth to 3 service providers with the information they need to help address the linguistic milestones of the students they serve.
7. Whole Child: To increase knowledge and awareness of the academic, social, and emotional needs of students who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind.
8. Deaf Adult Role Models: To foster and provide opportunities for children who are deaf or hard of hearing to interact with deaf or hard of hearing adults who serve as mentors and role models.
9. Professional Development: Adapt WSD specialized resources to support Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and provide targeted professional development in order to enhance the skills and abilities of individuals serving students who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind.
10. Parent/Parent Education: To foster family involvement in the education of their child who is deaf, hard of hearing, and/or deafblind.
ALG President Thomas P. Mickelson has more than 20 years of experience working with governmental agencies, advisory boards, land use task forces and associations including duties as chief facilitator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, strategic planning efforts for Deerfield and Germantown School Districts and numerous public participation processes. Dean Ryerson, a school improvement consultant and strategic planner, spent 11 years as the Superintendent of the Wisconsin Rapids School district and has served as a public school administrator in Beaver Dam, Port Edwards and Middleton. He currently serves as a teacher and advisor in the Education Leadership Doctoral Program at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.