Student Achievement Services and Special Education

  • The mission of the Cherry Creek School District Student Achievement Services Department is to prepare our students with special needs for positive post-secondary outcomes by ensuring access, alignment, achievement, advocacy and accountability. Excellence and Equity is at the forefront of our decision-making.

  • Adaptive Programs

    Please visit our Adaptive Programs site

  • Assistive Technology

    What is Assistive Technology?

    Assistive Technology (AT) is any tool that helps people function more effectively at home, school, work or play. For some students, AT is the lifeline that provides them with equal access to information and learning in the class room and the world.

    How do I access my assistive technology team?

    Any member of an Individual Education Plan team may initiate a referral to the Assistive Technology team. A referral form that documents the concerns of the team must be completed. Please contact your special education team for copies of this form. An evaluation will be scheduled by the Assistive Technology team, including some or all of the following: students, parents, special educators, general educators, speech/language pathologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, and/or school nurse. There is no specific test for evaluating the need for AT. The assessment will be tailored to the unique needs of each student.

    Assistive Technology Team:

    • Tracy Little, SWAAAC Team Leader, Speech Language Pathologist
      Sagebrush Elementary: 720-886-8311
    • Connie Lane, Occupational Therapist
    • Jennifer Goodson, Special Education Teacher
    • Lynae Trabant, Speech Language Pathologist
    • Jenny Lippold, Speech Language Pathologist

  • Audiology

    The Cherry Creek School District will identify students with hearing loss or an auditory processing disorder, and then provide the opportunity for these students to pursue and develop to their full educational and emotional potential. Each child with an educationally significant hearing loss or auditory processing disorder is unique and receives an individual educational plan annually to determine needs and subsequent programming.

    The Cherry Creek School District audiological services are provided by our district audiologists. A variety of clinical audiological services are available.
    Comprehensive hearing evaluations:
    • Pure tone air and bone conduction testing.
    • Soundfield testing.
    • Speech audiometry.
    • Auditory processing testing.
    • Audiometry Otoacoustic Emissions screening.
    • Hearing testing and screening for difficult to test populations. 

    Educational Programs (Preschool to High School)

    • Consultative services.
    • Itinerant direct services at home school.
    • Resource center-based classrooms.
    • Self-contained classrooms.
    • Oral, American Sign Language, and total communication available.
    • Counseling for transition to college, trade school, etc.

    • Rachel Wormer and Susan Engel
      720 554 4338
      720 886 7025


    Audiology Department at Eastridge Elementary
    11777 E. Wesley Ave. Aurora, CO 80014

    • Dr. Debbie Gwinner, Audiologist
    • Dr. Holly Rice, Audiologist
    • Staci Wilson, Assistant
    • Laurel Thorburn, Audiologist

    Audiology Department at Red Hawk Ridge Elementary
    16251 E. Geddes Ave, Centennial, CO 80016

    • Dr. Shelly Miller, Audiologist
    • Dr. Heather Guy, Audiologist
    • Mary Ellen (Meg) Garbrecht, Audiologist
    • Stephanie Carter, Assistant

  • Autism

    Approach to Programming for Students with Autism

    In Cherry Creek, programs designed to meet the educational needs of children with autism provide a structured teaching approach to learning. As with any student qualifying for special education services, the Individual Education Plan (IEP) will direct the program. Long term goals for our students with autism include the development of functional skills, communication and independence. Special attention is paid to skills in the following domains: communication, social, academic, daily living, independence, sensory motor and vocational.

    Services are provided in a continuum of environments ranging from self-contained to full inclusion settings, based upon the needs of each student.

    Intensive early intervention is a priority. Programming for preschool age children reflects the research regarding the need for intensity at this age. School staff and parents combine efforts to deliver increased hours of service consistent with recommended practices.

    Continued staff development is necessary to provide staff with the skills needed to provide quality programming for children with autism. Cherry Creek will continue to examine all in-service opportunities that focus on autism and keep staff trained in methodologies and/or strategies found successful for children with autism.

    Autism Team

    The Cherry Creek Schools Autism and Severe Needs Support Team is a group of professionals, employed by the school district, who have special training and expertise in assessments and programming for children with autism and severe needs.

    The team acts as an internal consultant to special education teams within the district. The team provides a range of services to home school staff, including team intake, record review, play based assessment or interview if appropriate of students suspected of having an autism-spectrum disorder, development of teaching plans to meet the child's IEP goals and objectives, and collaborative problem solving of difficult behavioral and instructional issues.

    Members of the Autism and Severe Needs Support Team are: 

    Andrea Ketterlin, Elementary Integrated Learning Center/Significant Needs Program Liaison
    720 554-4256

    Blake Orzak, Secondary Integrated Learning Center/Significant Support Needs Program Liaision

    Julia Cooper, Severe Affective Needs Support Liaision
    720 886-7024

    Sara Rode, Speech Language Pathology Liaision

    Jim Baroffio, Mental Health Services

  • Child Find

    Please visit our Child Find webpage

  • Cognitive, Multiple Disabilities

    In the Cherry Creek School District, students with significant support needs are served through Integrated Learning Center (ILC) programs and attend their neighborhood school as much as possible. Out of 44 elementary schools, we have 34 ILC programs with specialized staff; and all of our middle and high schools have a severe needs (ILC) program.  Long-term goals for our students supported through ILC include the development of functional skills, communication and independence.   Special attention is paid to skills in the following domains: communication, social, academic, daily living, independence, sensory motor, and vocational. 

    At the elementary level, students are included in general education with support as needed and as appropriate based on the student's strengths and needs.  General education curriculum is adapted and used as the foundation for these programs.  As with any student qualifying for special education services, the Individual Education Plan (IEP) will direct the program. 

    Para-educator support is present at all elementary levels and fades as the students gain more independence.  There are transition plans created for students transitioning to the next level. 

    At the secondary level, inclusion focuses on electives, after-school activities, and the general school community. Core subjects are often taught in the resource room and applied within the community as the students move into their high school and transition years. Community-based instruction is gradually increased during the student's secondary school years. 

    Purposeful Inclusion is our district philosophy from preschool to age 21. Special education is a service, not a location, so individual needs should be carefully considered when determining the amount of inclusion for each student.

    • Blake Orzak, Special Education Coordinator, Significant Support Needs
    • Andrea Ketterlin Special Education Coordinator, Significant Support Needs


  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing

    The Cherry Creek School District will identify students with hearing loss, and provide opportunities for these students to utilize their strengths while addressing their individual needs.
    Services are provided in a continuum of environments ranging from self-contained to full inclusion settings, based upon the needs of the student.
    Integrated programming is available to maximize students' abilities to communicate and interact successfully. The students' needs will direct the methods used to develop a well-rounded individualized program. The focus involves strengthening each student's ability in the areas of hearing, listening, language, academics, and social-emotional development.
    Individualized instruction specifically focuses on the areas of language, speech, auditory skills, lip-reading, academics and social-emotional development.
    • Susan Engel, Coordinator
    • Rachel Wormer, Coordinator

  • Early Childhood Education

    Please visit our Early Childhood Education website

  • Health Services

    Please visit our Health Services website

  • Learning Disabilities

    Colorado state law defines the eligibility criteria for Specific Learning Disability. Current law uses a response to intervention model for identification. This model contains two major criteria a child must meet in order to be identified:

    1. The child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet state-approved grade-level standards … when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child’s age or state-approved grade-level standards, and
    2. The child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or state-approved grade-level standards … when using a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention as determined by a body of evidence
    3. These criteria can apply to each of the eight areas of SLD identification:
      • Oral Expression
      • Listening Comprehension
      • Written Expression
      • Basic Reading Skill
      • Reading Fluency Skills
      • Reading Comprehension
      • Mathematical Computation
      • Mathematical Problem Solving  
    • Alissa Beck,
      Elementary, Coordinator of Special Education
    • Michael Carver,
      Secondary, Coordinator of Special Education
      720 886-7048

  • Sensorimotor OT PT

    Occupational and Physical Therapies in Cherry Creek Schools

    Both occupational and physical therapy are legally considered a “related service” to special education and are governed by federal laws and state and local mandates.  Occupational and physical therapists provide specialized services and supports to students with motor issues that significantly limit the student’s ability to access or participate in typical school activities and routines.  Services are focused on helping the student benefit from their specific educational plan. Occupational and physical therapists are part of student teams that include parents or guardians, classroom teachers, and special education professionals.  These teams make decisions about assessment and services based on the specific needs of each student.    

    Occupational and physical therapists work in every school in the district. Assessment services are provided to infants and toddlers up to age three. For children age 3-5 both evaluation and intervention services through early childhood education programs. Information about services for children from birth to age 5 is available through Cherry Creek's Child Find office. 

    Occupational and Physical therapy staff includes occupational therapists, physical therapists, and occupational and physical therapist assistants.  Therapists and assistants are fully credentialed in their fields and are licensed through the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

    • Amy Barr,
      PT Program Specialist
    • Kristen Reaves,
      OT Program Specialist

  • Serious Emotional Disability

    The Social, Emotional, Behavior team assists building level teams and IEP teams with the IEP programming and behavior planning for students with significant emotional and behavioral difficulties in the schools. As will all disability categories, programming options for students with a significant emotional disability are spread across a continuum of services.
    At the elementary level, students with relatively mild to moderate needs in this disability area receive services from the special education team at their neighborhood school. The school’s mental health team member(s) may provide consultation and/or direct services in conjunction with special education teachers as indicated on the student’s IEP.
    Elementary students with more intensive needs may be referred to and, if necessary, placed in one of Cherry Creek School District’s center-based severe affective needs programs. These programs are located in elementary schools where there is a teacher on staff certified to teach students with such needs derived from their disabilities. This referral and placement occurs through the IEP process of IDEA.
    Elementary referrals to severe affective needs  programs are facilitated by at least one member of the SEB team. The SEB team will assist building level special education teams and parents with the program referral process at the elementary level. The length of placement in center programs is determined by each student’s individual needs and progress. If placed in a severe affective needs program, the student’s homeschool remains in close contact with and involved in the IEP process with  the service school throughout the student’s placement in that program.
    Programming options for students with emotional disabilities at the secondary level generally occurs primarily in the student’s neighborhood middle school or high school. Every secondary school has a certified teacher on staff that is qualified to work with students with emotional disabilities.
    Services at the secondary level range from consultation with general education staff members to direct instructional support provided in a separate classroom. Mental health team members at this level provide a range of support services for students with an emotional disability including direct instruction and behavior planning.
    The Colorado Department of Education has guidelines to which staffing teams adhere during the disability identification process. If you have questions regarding SED criteria or services that are provided in Cherry Creek School District, please contact the mental health team professional at your neighborhood school. Additional information may be available by contacting the respective Director of Elementary or Secondary Special Education.
    • Kara Peterson
      Severe Affective Needs Liaision  (Elementary)
    • Julia Cooper
    • Severe Affective Needs Liaison  (Secondary)

  • Speech Language

    Speech-Language Pathologists provide a wide variety of services to students (Pre-K through 12th grade).  The full spectrum of speech-language services might include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Provide speech-language screenings and evaluations to determine an educational identification of disabilities, including a Specific Language Impairment (SLI)
    • Provide community awareness about communication disorders
    • Provide assistance with and consultation of augmentative communication devices
    • Assist in planning for appropriate programming for students with various language-based disabilities
    • Provide research based intervention in the areas of: literacy, articulation, receptive language, expressive language, pragmatic social language, voice, and fluency
    • Participate in multidisciplinary team meetings and IEP meetings

    • Rachel Wormer, MA, CCC-SLP,
      Coordinator of Special Education, Speech-Language
      Elementary Schools and Early Childhood
    • Sara Rode, MA, CCC-SLP
      Coordinator of Special Education, Speech-Language
      Elementary & Secondary Schools

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

    What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?


    A child with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a child with an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment or both, which impairment adversely affects the child's ability to receive reasonable educational benefit from general education.  A qualifying Traumatic Brain Injury is an open or closed head injury resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech.  The term "traumatic brain injury" under this rule does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

    What is the CCSD's TBI team?

    The TBI team was formed as a support to students, staff and parents around effectively educating students with a TBI.  The team can provide consultation and information to building teams who service TBI students.

    The TBI team consists of Cherry Creek staff members from many disciplines including:  Special Education Teachers, Nurses, Speech/Language Specialists, School Social Workers and Psychologists, Vision Service Providers, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and various Student Achievement Services liaisons.

  • Twice Exceptional

     A twice-exceptional student is one who is formally identified as having:
    • a learning disability, emotional disorder, communication disorder, and/or physical disability
    • is also formally identified as gifted in one or more areas including intellectual ability, specific academic ability, or is recognized for extraordinary talent in creative and/or artistic areas or leadership

    How are they recognized?

    GT Identified First

    • Achievement noticed first
    • Strengths or "gifts" often fostered through GT programs
    • Often passed over for special ed. support because they may be achieving at grade level (Baum, 1991)

    Disability Identified First

    • Often failing in school
    • First noticed for what they cannot do
    • Most "at risk" because the special ed. label tends to have a focus on deficits
    • Often difficult for them to give themselves credit for abilities
    • Acquisition of basic skills emphasized over creative productive behavior (Baum, 1991)

    Neither GT nor Disability Identified

    • Disability masks "gifts"
    • "Gifts" mask disability
    • Intellectual ability masks disability
    • Often gifts emerge in specific content areas or particular learning environments where nontraditional methods are used (Baum, 1991)
    • Rebecca Lopez, M.A., Ed.S.
      Director of Advanced Academic and Gifted Services

  • Vision

    Vision Service Providers (VSP's) provide special education services to students with visual impairments, ages 3-21, as addressed under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). These services include direct instruction as well as consultation. Students with visual impairments may also be eligible for orientation and mobility training by an Orientation and Mobility Specialist (OMS).

    The Cherry Creek Vision Service Providers work with children who are totally blind or who have low vision. Listed below are the types of services provided based on individual needs as determined by the IEP (Individualized Education Program) team.

    • consultation services and in-service training for parents and staff
    • collaboration with the multi-disciplinary team at each school
    • functional vision assessments and instruction in the use of low vision aids
    • literacy plans and Braille instruction
    • orientation and mobility assessment and training
    • daily living skill assessments and instruction
    • compensatory skill evaluations and instruction
    • assistive technology evaluations and training
    • adaptation of instructional materials
    • procurement of special equipment, aids and modified textbooks/standardized tests

    • Mary Page
      Secondary Special Education Director

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Last Modified on September 16, 2022