Assistive Technology for Shawnee Middle School Students

In September 2018, the CACEASF donated $500 in funding to Shawnee Middle School to purchase two Chromebooks that will supply students with special needs the assistive technology they need in order to complete written assignments. Many students with fine motor skill challenges and Dysgraphia, a specific learning disability that causes trouble with written expression, find the writing process much harder and slower. Children with Dysgraphia experience difficulty in six areas:  visual-spatial, fine motor, language processing, spelling/handwriting, grammar, and organization of language. Writing requires not only a complex set of fine motor skills, but also language processing skills, similar to those needed for learning to read. Without early intervention, school accommodations, structured teaching, and assistive technology solutions, a child with dysgraphia becomes increasingly at risk academically and emotionally. Children with writing disabilities may fall behind one or many grade levels  in school and ultimately spiral deeper each year into an abys of frustration, sadness, and isolation. This is unnecessary as structured teaching approaches can be made available to teach children with writing disabilities as well as assistive technology tools and software to mitigate, and even provide a solution to address these challenges and emotional distress. Unfortunately, many children are not identified with these challenges in our public school systems and early interventions not provided until it is too late, or ever unless the child has been provided an Individualized Education Plan or IEP. Assistive technology is a proven intervention shown to improve academic and social outcomes for children with writing disabilities and the CACEASF is grateful for the courage and leadership that Shawnee Middle School demonstrates in providing assistive technology services for its students.

These interventions are critical in closing the reading gap in America and Celia or Mrs. “C” would be extremely happy that her hometown middle school proactively seeks solutions to help students in need. The CACEASF tracks public school system data in Oklahoma and Maryland related to the achievement of children with disabilities on standardized assessments. The achievement gap for children with disabilities is clearly significant and even more so for minorities and children from low income households. Racial and economic disparities are notable as compared to all children, as well as those with disabilities. The CACEASF is also fully aware that illiteracy among the prison population is overwhelming. Therefore, again, early intervention is not only critical to individual student success, but also to that of a community, where individual educational achievement is the single most important factor affecting economic and societal outcomes.


Dyslexia Simulation for 30 Elementary Reading Specialists, Carroll County Public Schools, Maryland

On March 16, 2018 Mom’s fund supported the delivery of the first modern event in Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS) focused on Dyslexia. CACEASF collaborated with the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Educational Center, Decoding Dyslexia Maryland, and CCPS to present the challenges of what students with Dyslexia experience to 30 dedicated CCPS Elementary Reading Specialists through simulation. Reading Specialists work directly with struggling readers and support general education elementary teachers with accommodations in the classroom. This was an especially meaningful project because mom was a Reading Specialist and one of her granddaughters is also Dyslexic. The simulation is effective in not only bringing home these students’ struggles but their emotion. It takes the teacher (or parent) through trials in reading and writing and causes one to feel the anxiety, frustration, fear, and disappointment in oneself from being unable to read and write on grade level with peer students. ASDEC is one of only two training providers in the country accredited by the International Dyslexia Association, which states, “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.” (  The simulation also provided classroom accommodations and intervention ideas for teachers who gained a deeper understanding of this condition on that day. They can now provide further support to general education teachers at their schools and to their students. While there is no cure for Dyslexia, students with this condition can learn coping strategies and parents whom have children with Dyslexia are encouraged to seek out reading instruction that is based upon a systemic and explicit understanding of language structure, including phonics. This reading instruction goes by many names, Structured Literacy, Orton-Gillingham, Simultaneous Multisensory, Explicit Phonics, and others. ( CACEASF was so heartened by the opportunity to bring this simulation to CCPS Elementary Reading Specialists. Their  love and passion for helping struggling students is as strong as our mother’s was and they offered many creative ideas to support CCPS  students. CACEASF is grateful to its partner ASDEC and to CCPS for the opportunity to share this information with its teachers. We look forward to continued partnership to support struggling readers in Carroll County Public Schools.



Support for Prague Middle School Leadership Team

The Prague Middle School Student Leadership Team in Prague, Oklahoma received financial support from the CACEASF to support school and community initiatives, including tutoring students and assisting teachers during the day and after school.

Angela and I  are so glad that this donation can benefit not only the community of Prague, but also the social and emotional growth of Prague Middle School students. Our mother loved teaching middle school and retired from teaching at Prague Middle School. Like most children, we don’t know everything about our mother’s life’s work or her numerous contributions, but we can speak to her commitment to the communities and students where she worked. She taught in three very different communities in Oklahoma; Shawnee, Oklahoma City, and Prague. Mom  was an incredible teacher and mentor because she made an effort to know the communities and populations where she taught and to try to understand the challenges where her students lived and breathed daily. She took time to provide social and emotional supports to her students that are still very much needed today, but provided less and less due to rules, rigor, and expectations placed on our teachers and students. She participated as Student Council Sponsor throughout her teaching career supporting similar school and community initiatives to this grant’s purpose. She provided countless hours of free tutoring and devoted herself as a avid fan of her school’s sports.  Many, many student’s remember the time and effort “Mrs. C” made to listen and encourage them in their academics and to be themselves! This donation honors her life’s work, her humanity, and her “school spirit”.

Donation to Lourie Center Early Head Start

This holiday season the CACEASF made a donation to the Lourie Center Early Head Start Adopt A Family Program to purchase educational/developmental toys for children to support their growth, development and ultimately school readiness. The Lourie Center for Children’s Social & Emotional Wellness is a private, non-profit agency located in Maryland with a mission to improve the social and emotional health of young children and their families through prevention, early intervention, education, research and training. The agency’s Early Head Start Program provides comprehensive, year-round, child and family development services to low-income families with children, prenatal to three years old.

Our mom grew up living and breathing Community Action and Head Start.  Her father, Leon H. Rogers, was the Executive Director (1965-1997) of the first Community Action Agency in Oklahoma, which also administered the first Head Start program in the state.  He and my grandmother instilled a deep love and appreciation for people, community, and education.  Mom was a staunch advocate for Head Start and Early Childhood Education and was the momma bear for all vulnerable children…you could hear her voice loud and clear when she championed the causes near and dear to her heart.  She always said if we could reach more children in the early years and provide them a comprehensive educational experience [like Head Start] then she would have students ready to learn and excel in middle school.  She was incredibly proud of Head Start’s mission and our family’s legacy.  She would be honored to support children and families in need this holiday season.

Adaptive Seating for Shawnee Middle School Students

Second gift in mom’s name given to Shawnee Middle School (SMS). The Special Education Team at SMS asked for funding to support the purchase of adaptive seating:  soft cushions, bean bag and bungee chairs, and wobble chairs. These seats help children feel secure and can diffuse an escalation of  behavior when they are overstimulated. They also allow for movement helping them to stay focused in class.  These tools are very useful in helping children with sensory disorders and those with mild disabilities, emotional disturbance, or severe profound intellectual disabilities.

Mom was a Reading Specialist who after 30+ years of teaching had helped many children learn to read. Her methods and philosophies about teaching and the school system were centered around children and families. As a grandma, she watched as my sister and I navigated through our own children’s struggles to grow and learn to read and write. A few years before her passing, my husband and I started the IEP process for our daughter, which proved much harder than we thought it would be… While I grew tired of her saying…”Well…when I was teaching it was done like this….,” I learned that common sense and conventional wisdom must have a place within an educational framework that expects so much from our children and families. I call it a “Children First Systems Second” approach, but she just called it common sense. Mom’s sense of justice was truly automatic and second nature to her, which is what made her such a wonderful champion for her students and others in her life. It was also an attribute that oftentimes isolated her. Much like my experiences, as she watched me painfully advocate for our daughter’s needs in school. Mom was my champion (as always) and stoic amidst a true personal struggle to accept systemic problems in our educational system for children with disabilities.  While these struggles are very real for many families today, I should say that not every family has the same challenges in obtaining services for their child, which is a wonderful thing! During this time together, we also learned about many new interventions being used to teach children learn how to read, like the Orton Gillingham method, and adaptive seating. Adaptive seating in fact was a very useful intervention used by special education teachers for our daughter in her school while mom was alive. Mom would be very happy to know that this gift will help children feel better and more ready to learn in the classroom. What a positive solution to help children in the classroom!

First Donation: Supporting Childhood Literacy, Phelps Luck Elementary School, Columbia, Maryland

The first donation made by the fund to honor mom purchased one new or gently used book for every child at Phelps Luck Elementary School in Columbia, Maryland. A designated Title I School, the books were given on Read Across America Day, March 29th, to support childhood literacy and build on every child’s love of reading. Anyone that knows mom, knows that she loved reading! She would spend hours in Hallmark reading cards and would stay up all night enjoying a good book. She valued education very much, and would give a book as a gift to share knowledge, inspiration, give hope, or just tell somehow how she felt. I am enjoying rereading the messages in numerous books she gave me.  This donation is also special because mom deeply valued diversity, culture, and inclusion. She would be so happy to know that Bilingual books were also purchased with these funds, making it possible for children to attain exposure to a new language and culture or feel accepted in their own. Making everyone feel included and accepted was something easy and unquestionable for mom. Books are a place of opportunity, and we are so happy that mom’s fund can make them more accessible to the students at Phelps Luck Elementary School in Howard County, Maryland.