TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Pima County School Superintendent’s Office recently started a program called EDvance aimed at special education teachers. The program is centered around helping teachers set and achieve goals while also creating connections with each other.
“One of the areas that I noticed the biggest need for was students that had special needs,” Superintendent Dustin Williams said.
Williams says the program is something his team developed when he took the job as superintendent in 2017. The woman leading that development is Diane Kent, the Director of Special Education for the superintendent’s office.
“We build relationships with the districts one school at a time, ask them what they’d like to do for their professional development, what their focus might be. The most important thing is that they have a vision and we help them set and find that vision,” Kent said.
The program has been officially underway the past few months and just this week Kent worked with teachers in the Sunnyside Unified School District, giving speech pathologists training through EDvance.
“We want people to feel supported by having this available to them,” she said.
Kent says the thought behind EDvance comes from her desire to create a space for staff to focus on professional development, encouragement, and coaching. Out of that, and her previous career as a speech pathologist, came EDvance.
To get the program going at different schools Kent and the superintendent’s office reach out the different districts and ask what they can to do to support them. Then, they see what sort of vision the teachers have, and that helps them give teachers the training to help them achieve that vision.
For Kent, the program is personal. EDvance is something that pulls on her heartstrings and her own personal passions.
“One of my passions is to empower people so that staff can feel like they can go back energized, having learned some new things. And again it’s the power of connection. When people have the opportunity to connect with each other they go back to their schools energized and just feel that they can provide stronger services for their students,” she said.
While the program is geared towards educators who work with kids that have disabilities, Kent says EDvance is available to all educators to help them achieve their goals, create connections, and grow.
If you have any questions about the program you can email Diane.Kent@schools.pima.gov.