Will We See You at These Events?

CLC Network teacher consultant Pam Maat speaks to a group of educators about neurodevelopment.

Teacher consultant Pam Maat speaks to a group of educators about neurodevelopment.

Throughout the year, our team of teacher consultants, school psychologists, and church consultants travel across North America to equip educators and churches to welcome individuals at all levels of ability in their faith community. This fall, we are presenting at conferences and events around the Midwest and Southern United States.

We invite you to listen in on a presentation or stop by our exhibit booth at one of the events below!

Note: Some conferences require registration and are only open to specific audiences; check each event website for more information.

October 2-3:
Heartland Christian Educators’ Convention(Sioux Center, IA)


  • “Academically Talented Programming: Is Your School Ready?” with Becci Zwiers
  • “Techie Trends: Good & Cheap” with Becci Zwiers
  • “Blended & Flipped Learning: What’s the Buzz All About?” with Becci Zwiers
  • “Inclusion: A Service Not a Place” with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Behavior Management Techniques for Classroom Teachers and Paraprofessionals” with Barbara J. Newman
  • Anxiety and depression in the Classroom” with Sherri Rozema, Ph.D.

October 11:
Local Church Representatives Training for Flat Rock Homes (Flat Rock, OH)

Learn tools and resources to strengthen, develop and/or establish special needs ministry in your church!

Presenting: Barbara J. Newman

October 23-24:
Christian Educators’ Association Convention (Holland, MI)


  • “Behavior Management Techniques for Classroom Teachers and Paraprofessionals” with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Techie Trends – Good & Cheap” with Becci Zwiers
  • “Creating Individual Goals for Special Needs Learners” with Becky Tubergen
  • “Bullying: Creating a Safe School Community for ALL God’s Children” with Beth Harmon, S.Psy.S.
  • “40 Quick Ways to Assess & Engage your Student” with Mary Ashby
  • “Strategies for Effective Teaching – Applying a Neurodevelopmental Framework to Learning” with Pam Maat

October 23-24:
Indiana Non-Public Education Conference (Indianapolis, IN)

Visit our exhibit booth for inclusive education resources!

November 7-8:
The Accessible Kingdom Conference (Birmingham, Alabama)


  • “Accessible Gospel: Introducing People With Disabilities to Jesus”
    with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Christian Perspective”
    with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Inclusion in Practice: How Belonging Happens in Christian Education Environments” with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Inclusion Toolbox for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Communicating Without Opening Your Mouth” with Barbara J. Newman

November 13-14:
Strengthening Christian Schools Conference (Dyer, IN)

Presenting: “Learning Communities for All Kinds of Students” with Phil Stegink

Schedule Your Training

Invite a member of our team to speak at your upcoming conference or event by calling 616-245-8388. Visit our website for a list of potential topics for educators and churches.

Six Tips for a Smooth Back-to-School Transition

Boys at lockerAs a new school and ministry year gets underway, our school and church consultants know there is a lot on your mind. But no need to fret! We have six steps you can take to ease the transition into school and church programs so all students feel more comfortable starting out the new year.

  • Set the routine.

    Start getting into the routine of going to bed earlier and getting up earlier before school actually begins.

  • Take a tour.

    Each school year can be full of new places and people, whether it is at school, church, or after-school activities. Try to visit these new places (outside of an open house) a few weeks ahead of time if your son or daughter seems anxious.

  • Meet the key people.

    When you visit the new places, arrange to meet the teachers, principal, and/or ministry leaders for a one-on-one time. This meeting is a great time to share your child’s strengths and areas of need, and any concerns for the upcoming year.

  • Go over the schedule.

    If your student is in middle or high school, go over their school schedule at home, preferably with pictures. Be sure to emphasize that schedules can change, so use words like “typically” and “usually”. When you take a tour of the school, walk through the classrooms to help your son or daughter see where their classes will be.

  • Write a social story.

    Creating a social story with your son or daughter can help them preview an activity before it actually takes place. You can easily create a social story on PowerPoint or with a photo book. Some examples of back-to-school social stories you can write include:

  1. Introduction to the first day of school
  2. Introduction to children’s church
  3. How to put materials away in art class
  4. How to go through the lunch line

Read the social story every day before the actual activity starts.

Need some examples? Barbara J. Newman shares tips for creating a social story in this blog post. We’ve also created two customizable work books you can use to introduce a child to a new church or school. You can purchase both the “School Welcome Story” and “Church Welcome Story” on the CLC Network website.

  • Meet friends.

    If your son or daughter is nervous socially, schedule a play date or time to meet other students from their school or church. If they’re new to the school or church, work with their teacher, pastor, or ministry leaders to introduce friends that might connect well with your son or daughter.

How about you? What tips do you have for easing into this new school and ministry year?

Katie Barkley ImageKatie Barkley is the marketing communications manager at CLC Network.

Four Schools Choose Inclusion for Upcoming School Year

Friends in a circleAt CLC Network, we are pleased to announce that we are partnering with four additional non-public schools this upcoming school year! This partnership will ensure students at all levels of ability and disability are included and accepted in general education classrooms at these schools.

The four non-public schools are located across the country and include:

  • Alma Heights Christian School (Pacifica, CA)
  • Calvin Christian School (South Holland, IL)
  • Crown Point Christian School (St. John, IN)
  • Netherlands Reformed Christian School (Rock Valley, IA)

In total, we now work with more than sixty non-public schools across Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and California, to help them create inclusive communities. Praise God!

“Our team is excited to work with each of these schools – their teachers and their staff – to better serve students with varying abilities,” said R.H. “Bear” Berends, executive director of CLC Network. “In each school, we will look to develop and integrate custom education plans that build on each student’s gifts, while still maintaining the integrity of the school’s educational standards.”

Each new school shared what they’re looking forward to this upcoming year:

Alma Heights Christian School (Pacifica, California)

“CLC Network provides the training and expertise that our school needs to move into stronger support for more students and for their teachers and families,” explained David Gross, principal at Alma Heights Christian School. “I am excited and challenged by the good that a positive emphasis on inclusion will do for all of our students, faculty, and families. We can focus on the good of loving neighbor as self in order to proactively combat the evils of gossip, bullying, and self harm.”

Calvin Christian School (South Holland, Illinois)

“We chose to partner with CLC Network because we wanted something more,” explained Randy Moes, principal at Calvin Christian School. “We recognized that we could be more effective in how we intervened with students who struggled. This partnership will allow us to further enhance and improve what we do here, to the glory of God.”

Crown Point Christian School (St. John, Indiana)

“Partnering with CLC Network will allow us to better meet the needs of a diverse learning community,” explained Carol Moxey, principal at Crown Point Christian School. “As our school continues to grow, we realized this is an area that needed improvement. We’re excited about the training opportunities that CLC Network provides.”

Netherlands Reformed Christian School (Rock Valley, Iowa)

“Our school has an effective, experienced, and well-educated special needs staff in place,” continued Daniel Breuer, principal at Netherlands Reformed Christian School. “But this partnership will advance our program’s procedures and processes as we look to better serve our students with equity and as we equip our general education teachers with the confidence they need to serve all students, regardless of ability or disability.”

A teacher consultant will be assigned to each of these four new schools to assist with creating individualized student plans, curriculum assistance, transition plans, behavioral intervention plans, and general academic and social inclusion within the school. These new schools will also have access to our best-practice online professional development sessions on Autism Spectrum Disorder, Behavior Management, Neurodevelopment, Bullying Prevention, Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom, as well as our team of school psychologists to help understand and create strategies for struggling learners.

If you want to make inclusive education a reality at your non-public school, contact us to see how we can help!

Acceleration vs. Enrichment for Students with Academic Talents

There often seems to be two conflicting views when we think about academic planning for students with academic talents.


Young girl with backpackThe acceleration view has advanced learners jumping ahead to content that is academically at their level.  This is the group that would send an 8 year old to college.  It also appears in schools as having a student skip a grade in a certain subject.  For example, a 4th grade student would go to the 6th grade math class because the 4th grade math is too easy for them.

For some students this is an ideal situation.  For others they are uncomfortable emotionally at the more advanced level. It’s not uncommon for advanced students to struggle with emotional issues such as anxiety and depression.  Though a 3rd grader might be able to academically read the materials at a middle school level, they may not be emotionally ready to handle the materials.


The enrichment view has advanced learners working on materials at their academic level within the classroom, alongside their typically developing peers.  This is the group that believes a teacher can provide materials/instruction to challenge and enhance the high-ability students’ learning.  This method takes an instructor trained and able to provide materials at different levels for different learners.

Motivation is key to enrichment. Motivation is needed on the part of the instructor to create lessons and materials for all the learners in his or her classroom.  It is also needed on the part of the student to work hard at materials that may be different than their peers.

A Combined View

Students working on computerThere seems to be a way to combine the two views through online learning, which has shown to be a successful delivery for advanced learners.  Students can remain with chronological age peers but have content delivered to their academic age. It’s also helpful for classroom teachers, as they do not need to prepare the learning material at the advanced student’s level.

Online Learning: How It Works

Some online learning content deliverers (such as CLC Network) have developed materials for students with academic talents that fit the needs of both the gifted student and align with best practices in academically talented instruction.

These types of online courses employ teachers who are trained in teaching academically talented students by providing instruction and content at their intellectual and emotional level.  Because of the teacher’s training, they are able to focus on the unique strengths and difficulties of their gifted students and modify the curriculum, instruction methods, and course discussions to best suit their students.  Because handling stress and working well with others is often difficult for advanced learners, teachers can weave training on these items into the course.

Including Everyone in the Classroom

In most situations, students are placed in online courses for 1-2 subjects and then in the general education class alongside their typically developing peers for the remainder of the school day.   That seems to me to be a best fit for everyone… the student is happy because he or she is being challenged, their parents are happy because their student is being challenged, the classroom teacher is happy because he or she can now focus on the other needs within the classroom, and the principal is happy because the parents and the teacher are happy!

Our Solution: Academically Talented Middle School Online Courses

Boy Participating in Middle School Online CoursesIf this type of online learning environment sounds like a good fit for your student, I invite you to enroll them in CLC Network’s middle school online courses for students with academic talents. Courses available this Fall include:

Visit the CLC Network website to learn more about these offerings.


Becci Zwiers photoBecci Zwiers is an online educator and academically talented teacher consultant for CLC Network