Success Stories

Philanthropy in Action

Interview with Laurie Kincade, School Psychologist Intern at The Learning Center at Groves Academy

Johnson Scholarship FoundationWith generous support from the Johnson Scholarship Foundation (JSF), Groves Academy is expanding access to comprehensive diagnostic services.

Groves’ vision is to redefine the way our nation is taught, one student, one teacher, and one school at a time. It is a vision that acts as our compass as we work towards bringing true equity to the education of children with learning disabilities. Equity that brings the best of what research is telling us and applies it individually to each child so that they recognize their strengths in being successful in the classroom and beyond.

During the 2019-20 school year, Groves Literacy Partnerships (GLP) is working with 30 K-3 schools, some of which serve low-income students. An essential component of the partnerships is to ensure that all students receive the instruction and intervention needed to reach their overall academic potential.

JSF awarded Groves Academy a three-year grant to identify children who may benefit from receiving a complete educational evaluation. With cost being a consistent barrier to accessing full and comprehensive diagnostic services, the Groves Learning Center will partner with several GLP schools to provide diagnostic assessments at no cost to identified K-3 children in need of early intervention services.

Student school-wide screening data will identify the children performing below benchmark. Laurie Kincade, Groves Academy School Psychologist Intern, will review screening data, meet with school leaders, and make recommendations for students who need additional interventions or a comprehensive evaluation. When possible, Laurie will also observe students in the classroom. Students who demonstrate a lack of progress with two evidence-based targeted interventions will be eligible to receive a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation from The Learning Center at Groves Academy. Following the evaluation, if the student qualifies for services, Groves will work with the school to streamline the special education or accommodations process.

We interviewed Laurie to learn more about the program launch:

Could you share more about this new exciting initiative?

We have met with three partner schools so far (Prodeo – Minneapolis, St. Paul City School and St. Peter Claver). An aspect of this initiative is to review the students in the high-risk category and identify those students who should get on a list for interventions and to recommend interventions. After the students are identified, we would consult with the school to get these students proper interventions. I am also reviewing screening data from each partner school that fits within the JSF grant guidelines. We are paying close attention to the group of students in the high-risk category who also have lack of progress after receiving targeted interventions.

Removing Barriers to Access and Creating Equity

The diagnostic evaluation is done at the child’s school to help decrease access barriers. Barriers to access could include cost of the evaluation, transportation, language, cultural differences, stigma and not understanding learning disabilities. Our partner schools provide Groves access to testing space at the school, access to interpreters, and the school reaches out to the eligible families. Groves provides all testing materials including access to our library of comprehensive assessments, protocols, rating scales, snacks, etc.

Value and Road Map

After the evaluation is completed, I schedule a follow-up meeting with the family to go through the testing results. This meeting could include whomever the family would like to invite, including a school psychologist or teacher. Specific recommendations for instruction and accommodations will be given to the school and the family. This comprehensive, private evaluation completed by Groves Academy will also likely inform additional educational testing completed at the school to determine if the student qualifies for special education services.

I have offered to continue to advocate for the families involved and to become a resource to the partner schools. I want to have continuous collaboration with our partner schools. If families need additional assistance accessing or understanding services provided at their school, I am willing to offer that support. If teachers or school leaders have questions about how to best support the overall well-being of the student, I am also excited to continue to collaborate with educational professionals to ultimately support the student.

What are your future hopes for this program?

We would like this grant to continue to expand financially so we can reach more partner schools, and ultimately, impact the lives of more students.

I would love the opportunity to provide learning sessions for families at their home school to continue to explain learning disabilities and educate about services available (IEP/504, etc.).

Looking forward, Groves sees opportunities to deepen our partnership with the JSF to include funding that would support GLP schools that are not able to offer special education services.

Why did you select to do your internship with Groves?

I am passionate about providing welcoming, inclusive, and beneficial learning environments for all students. I have a deep passion for diversity and equity within all of my work. Because of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation grant, the Groves internship provided the best of both worlds. This grant allows me the opportunity to lead and develop a new program that provides high-quality services and support to families and students who may not typically have access.

What do you like best about your role at Groves?

Designing this program from the ground up and the impact it is going to have for students and their families.

Anything else you want to share with our readers?

Thanks to the JSF, we are on track to complete 20 comprehensive evaluations through the 2019-20 school year. Next year, the grant will expand to reach 30 students, with the final year reaching 40 students. We hope to continue to expand this grant to continue to bring Groves’ evidence-based assessments and literacy recommendations to our greater community.

What do you like to do outside of Groves?

I enjoy marathon running, gardening, and hanging with my husband and two Persian cats.

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