Meet Our New Staff Members!

We are pleased to welcome five new staff members to our team this year, who bring years of expertise and a commitment to creating inclusive communities. Please join us in welcoming:

Tim Annema

Tim Annema photoOnline Courses Instructor, Algebra and Geometry

I am excited to begin working at CLC Network as it combines many passions in my life. These include working with middle school students, the use of technology in education, mathematics, and the exploration and revelation of Christ’s redemptive work in creation.

Kristin Contant

Kristin Contant photoOnline Courses Instructor, 6th and 7th Grade Honors English

I am looking forward to sharing my love of literature, writing, and my faith with my students through teaching 7th grade honors English.

Elaine Kappers

Elaine Kappers photoTeacher Consultant serving Central Wisconsin Christian School (WI)

Looking at my role with CLC Network, I’m looking forward to working with the CLC Network team and learning from their knowledge and expertise. I also look forward to working at other schools and helping them with the challenges they face.

Jacki Sikkema

Jacki Sikkema photoChurch Services Consultant and Coordinator

As I delve into my work here at CLC Network, I look forward to equipping churches and communities with tools to better include those who have disabilities. I’m also excited to see how God works in these communities, displaying His love through each and every member as they grow in Him.

Linda Weemhoff

Linda WeemhoffTeacher Consultant serving Hull Christian (IA), Netherlands Reformed Christian (IA), Orange City Christian (IA), Rock Valley Christian (IA), and Western Christian (IA) schools

I am very thankful that God is opening a new door for me. God has uniquely created all of us and I am excited that He is giving me the opportunity to continue to work with students and teachers as we all discover more about how God has gifted each of us to work in His Kingdom.

Encourage these individuals as they begin their work by sharing a note of welcome in the comment section below!

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.

Acceleration

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.

Enrichment

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

Key Ministry…When kids and families are impacted by less visible disabilities

We are always looking for partners who inspire us and push us to think outside of our own experience, and it’s a pleasure to introduce Key Ministry as one of those partners. We encourage you to check them out!

Key Ministry logoWhen our team launched Key Ministry in 2002, we did so to help churches serve families of children with  “hidden disabilities”… significant emotional, behavioral, developmental or neurologic conditions that posed major barriers to families connecting with a local church.

Flash forward ten years…the disability ministry movement has grown by leaps and bounds in its’ capacity to help kids with “special needs” to attend church. Churches made great progress including families of kids with intellectual disabilities, genetic syndromes and cognitive impairment. We have successful strategies for inclusion (buddy ministries, self-contained classrooms) and outreach (respite, “proms” or other special event ministries). But kids with “special needs” represent only a small portion of the disabled population struggling to connect through the local church. Most kids and families impacted by disability would NEVER think of themselves as candidates to be served by a “special needs” ministry…they’re reluctant to self-identify and will flee ministry interventions that draw attention to their differences because they desperately want to fit in with everyone else.

Our team pondered this… What need has God uniquely called and positioned us to meet that other ministry organizations haven’t been able to address? We concluded…

Key Ministry provides knowledge, innovation and experience to the worldwide church as it ministers to and with families of children impacted by mental illness, trauma and developmental disabilities.

Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in North America. On any given weekend, the number of Americans attending a worship service is roughly equal to those with a serious mental health condition. Church leaders struggle to develop strategies for ministry to people who are disabled in some environments, but not others. We’re called to come alongside ministry leaders and like-minded organizations seeking to break down the barriers that keep kids and families impacted by mental illness, trauma and developmental disabilities from fully participating in the life of the local church.

Our team is currently pursuing four initiatives to advance disability inclusion in the church…

Large door imageFront Door Church logo Online ministry: We’ve developed an online platform to deliver free, interactive ministry training to any church with access to high-speed internet service. We host Inclusion Fusion, a free, worldwide disability ministry Web Summit scheduled for November 12th-13th. We’re experimenting with online church as a strategy to help churches connect with families impacted by disability in their local communities.

FREE Consultation: Churches need not just resources, but relationships to effectively minister to families with disability. Key Ministry offers a FREE consultation service to churches of all sizes seeking to minister to families with disabilities, staffed by highly qualified and seasoned ministry leaders.

Inclusion Fusion logoInfluencing church leaders: We’re seeking opportunities to influence influence senior pastors and other church leaders to become champions of disability ministry and reaching out to seminaries for opportunities to train future pastors and church leaders.

Building institutional relationships: We’re seeking collaborations with like-minded ministry organizations (like CLC Network!) with complementary gift sets and interests, publishers, conference organizers, parachurch organizations, foundations and sponsors to optimize our capacity for casting influence with churches.

To reach people no one else is reaching, we have to try stuff no one else is trying. Key Ministry is honored to serve alongside other like-minded Christians and organizations in a disability movement leading to a future when there will be a church for every child.

 

Steve GrcevichStephen Grcevich, MD is Director of Strategic Initiatives for Key Ministry, after having served as the ministry’s Board Chairman from 2002-2014. He is a physician specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry. Dr. Grcevich is a faculty member at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Northeast Ohio Medical University, and has been involved with research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medication used to treat children and teens with depression, anxiety, ADHD and schizophrenia. He blogs at Church4EveryChild.

 

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!

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Here at CLC Network, we are always looking for ways to engage in conversations that advance our mission to create inclusive communities for people at all levels of ability and disability.  We are thrilled to be launching a new blog that we hope will be a resource for you, as well as provide support, inspiration, tips, and connections that strengthen our online community.

It takes many passionate people to grow the Kingdom through inclusive practices.  Our blog will feature posts by our staff of clinical psychologists and teacher and church consultants, friends who are transforming their communities, and contributions from other experts and blogs in the field of inclusion.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact Katie Barkley, marketing communications manager, at kbarkley@clcnetwork.org or 616-855-3106.

Thank you for your efforts and interest in recognizing God’s image in each of our brothers and sisters.  We want to help, and we pray for your success!