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Student Services (Special Education)
Dr. Bill Smith, Director of Student Services

The Alhambra Elementary School District and the Student Services Department supports inclusive practices for students with disabilities. We emphasize high expectations and standards for all students and educators and continually maintain that student achievement is of utmost importance. We are committed to inclusive practices where assistance for collaboration between general education and special education teachers is provided to meet the needs of all children.  The district strives to educate students within the least restrictive environment (LRE) while providing a free and appropriate education (FAPE).  The current Individuals with Disabilities Education and Improvement Act (IDEA) defines LRE as:

To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

Through the use of teacher assistance (Pre-Referral) teams; effective collaboration, consultation, and intervention; and the Child Study Team process, the district adheres to developing and implementing sound academic and behavioral interventions in general education settings prior to referral for special education consideration. As a district, we are committed to maintaining compliance with state and federal  regulations, while employing child-centered “best practices” in the identification for, and implementation of special education and other services.

TOP Happenings

Barbara and Ed Wilson Visit Alhambra
Barbara and Ed Wilson of Wilson Language Training visited Granada Primary and Montebello Schools to see their reading intervention programs in action. Students were excited to meet the real Ed as they are familiar with him from the large sound card that teaches the short vowel e. A special thanks to our special education teachers, Jessica Jensen, Donielle Rice, and Kathi Lemieux, and their students for welcoming these very important and influential visitors. These teachers and students showcased their knowledge of the Wilson concepts and the progress they have made towards learning how to read and spell.

September Staff Development: CHAMPS
On Wednesday September 16th all special education certified staff in the Alhambra School District participated in an all day training focusing on proactive and positive approaches to classroom management. This training, known as CHAMPS, is based on the work of Randy Sprick, Ph.D., of Safe and Civil Schools. In addition to helping all students feel and behave like champions, the CHAMPS acronym reflects behavior expectations that are clearly defined and directly taught to students depending on the activity in which students are engaged.

After attending this workshop, Donielle Rice, resource room teacher from Montebello School, immediately began to implement several strategies. One of the first strategies trainer Pat Somers introduced was developing an attention signal. Using an effective well-practiced attention signal allows the teacher to gain the attention of all students within 5 seconds. Instructional time is then not lost on repeating instructions, answering the same questions, and/or simply trying to gain the attention of all students at the same time. She did this by teaching her attention signal, allowing opportunities to practice, and then expecting all participants to use it throughout the training session. Mrs. Rice got to work teaching her students her own attention signal the very next day. Check out how they’ve mastered it:

img Mrs. Rice also created CHAMPS posters for her classroom based on her expectations of different types of activities. See the one below for independent activities:
The Student Services Department is excited to see these effective strategies being implemented!
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program at Sevilla West
Fourteen out of the fifteen Alhambra schools participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture. The purpose of this grant is to provide students an introduction to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, create healthier snack options, and to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables students eat.

Twice a week students in Mrs. Cox and Ms. Zimmerman’s special education classrooms at Sevilla West Middle School participate in the sorting and distribution of the fruits and vegetables. Students in Ms. Zimmerman’s class begin by sorting the fruits and vegetables. Each student has a job in the assembly line.
  • Two students act as counters and while wearing gloves, count the fruit according to class size and place it into each individual class bag.
  • Two students act as runners and once the bags are filled, take it the correct grade level table.
  • Another student puts a slip of paper containing information about the fruit into the bag and zips it up.
  • One student acts as a monitor to make sure that each bag is at the correct grade level, facing the correct way, has a slip and is zipped up.
  • Finally, two more students handle the trash and break down boxes, all while wearing gloves.
Ms. Zimmerman's Class
imgimgimg Once the sorting is complete, Ms. Coxs’ class takes over. Students are separated into groups to deliver the bags to each classroom at the various grade levels. Students must be able to match the correct bag to the correct room number in order to ensure each delivery is accurate.
Ms. Coxs' Class
imgimgimgimg This process allows our students with special needs to engage in a meaningful activity benefiting the entire school and gives each student a sense of pride and community while participating in important life skills. Thank you to Ms. Zimmerman and Mrs. Cox for giving our students this wonderful opportunity! We appreciate all you do.

Links and Web Pages


  • Supplemental Programs
    • Programs used by Special Education staff to support students with disabilities.
    • There are no links in this category.
    • Pre-made Boardmaker boards that do not require Boardmaker software.
    • Applicable information on Common Core instructional and teacher standards with connections to Special Education.
    • Information about Co-Writer including a 5 minute video demo.
    • Electronic IEP / Eval storage system used in AESD.
    • Supplemental program that reinforces the learning of Algebra.
    • Information about the Handwriting Without Tears Program including free "extras".
    • Information on Simon SIO that includes a 5 minute video demo.
    • Free, easy to read, and accessible books on a variety of topics and levels.
    • Information about the Wilson Reading Program.