“Heaven.” That’s how Leander ISD special education teacher Aline Crompton has come to describe her job working with six students enrolled in the district’s SELF 30 program located at Concordia University. This year LISD inaugurated a new and exciting era in our partnership with Concordia, one that speaks to our community’s commitment to bring down the silos in education and pave pathways to student success, while maintaining our focus on student achievement.
SELF (Skills for Encouraging Life-long Fulfillment) 30 is an integral part of LISD’s special education transition services. It is a program that is designed to meet the needs of students ages 18 – 21 and their families by supporting students as they achieve fulfilling futures. While SELF 30 has been an effective program consistently meeting its goals and objectives, one barrier had become apparent — these students needed additional opportunities to be around young people their own age. LISD believed that we could better serve our SELF 30 students by holding their classes at a university where they could interact with their peers, while simultaneously gaining the skills they needed for a successful transition beyond high school.
Concordia University has been an active partner with LISD since they moved to their new location off of RR 620 two years ago. Already well known as a strong supporter of LISD’s mission and goals, Concordia’s college-age atmosphere, as well as their renowned education program, made the local university an ideal location for LISD’s SELF 30 program. With the full support of Concordia University leadership, including President Dr. Thomas Cedel, and after several months of coordinating logistics, such as transportation, meals and classroom space, Concordia University and LISD were ready to launch SELF 30 this past August. Without a doubt, this program has exceeded the expectations of everyone involved.
As with every program in LISD, our focus is serving the best interests of our students, and the SELF 30 program is a shining example of how our community can enhance our efforts. Our teachers can’t say enough about how much our SELF 30 students are benefitting from this program and its location.
Our six SELF 30 students begin their day at the Concordia student union where, like any college-age student, they can enjoy a cup of coffee and games with their friends. At 9 a.m. the students have class and cover different topics before breaking to make their own lunch. After joining in other campus-wide activities, the students take their lunches and join their peers in the cafeteria. This time to socialize with each other and with the Concordia student body is a highlight for our students. The afternoons keep them busy with volunteer opportunities and other engaging activities.
Throughout the day, our students are joined by Concordia students who are excited to work and interact with these new friends. Our students love being a part of the college experience and are getting the most out of the supportive learning environment Concordia has so generously provided. We are very pleased to see that more and more opportunities are presenting themselves to our students at every turn, reinforcing our students’ abilities to lead fulfilling lives.
The Concordia community has embraced our presence on their campus with open arms, engaging with our students and staff whenever they can. Dr. Cedel, who is known to spend time with our students, says, “We are very happy to host this program at Concordia. We are very impressed with the students and staff who make this program so successful.”
I concur with Dr. Cedel’s statement and add that the heart and soul of the SELF 30 program are the LISD staffers who pour their efforts into making a difference in the lives of these students. They are building relationships and teaching the skills so that our students may have purposeful futures. They are truly exemplifying what “doing right and good all” means in LISD. I sincerely thank Sandy Kelly-Kahn, Denise Geiger, Aline Crompton, Tia Banks, Maria Ramirez and Isaac Cruz for everything they are doing to meet the needs of our special education students.
I also thank the students and staff at Concordia for all that they’ve done to make our students’ experiences so meaningful. I am proud to be part of a partnership that is impacting our community in such a positive way. Concordia University’s collaboration with Leander ISD embodies the synergy that comes when the community joins together to support our students. It’s another way we are paving pathways to student success!