Specialized Education Staff

Special education teachers and related service providers in the school district work with children who have a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Our dedicated, knowledgeable, and caring staff teach strategies and skills in a supportive environment which challenges all students and promotes learning. Strong collaboration with regular education staff is a concerted effort to provide services to students in the most inclusive manner, which benefits all students within the class setting. Providing consultation, collaboration, and direct instruction special education staff across the district provides students with special education services in their least restrictive environment.

Review the roles and responsibilities of licensed staff who teach students with special education needs in the district. To locate or reach one of our professionals, please see role descriptions and contact information below. View the organizational chart showing key roles within the special education process.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology must be considered for all children with an Individualize Education Program and be provided for students who require it.  This is to provide access to appropriate tools and in order to receive a free, appropriate public education. Assistive technology can be as simple as a pencil grip or as complex as a voice-activated computer.  An assistive technology consultant can provide support to IEP teams by evaluating, acquiring, training, and implementing technology strategies for students with disabilities. IEP team members will contact the AT team when consultation is needed to explore technology options that will promote student progress towards IEP goals and objectives.

Services and supports may include providing an overview of information or training related to Assistive technology to IEP team members, evaluate Assistive technology needs for students both informal or formal, acquire Assistive technology and devices, support Assistive technology trials of devices or equipment, and train students in the use and care of the device.

Steven Kangas
AT Specialist
(952) 556-6120
Amber Middendorf
AT Support Specialist
(952) 556-6213
Shelli Sutherland
AT Specialist
(952) 556-6181
Behavior Specialists

A district behavior specialist works primarily with students receiving specialized educational services who have significant behavioral needs.  Students are referred by their building special education team. The behavior specialist works with the student and their teachers to assess their needs and develop a behavior intervention plan.

Katie Firman
Behavior Specialist
(952) 556-7136
Brooke Moehrle
Behavior Specialist
(952) 556-3681


Specialized Services coordinators support and coach special education staff in acquiring due process skills necessary to be in full compliance with state and federal law related to IEP’s and Evaluations. This includes receiving and processing referrals for initial comprehensive educational evaluations. They provide on-site support for special teachers and paraprofessionals and support staff in making appropriate referrals to related service providers. The coordinator serves as a liaison to the Intervention Planning Process (iTeam) and facilitate special education team meetings, including Child Study Discussions. They also guide the scheduling process for team teaching and resource models providing a full continuum of services. This is in collaboration with parents, administration, teachers, and support staff regarding due process and programming options.

Ryan Bellmont
Family Learning Center, LaAcademia, Kinder Academy
(952) 556-7233
Jennifer Cordes
Chaska HS, Bluff Creek
(952) 556-7111
Jo Dunham
Chaska MS East, Jonathan
(952) 556-8886
Jen Hayes
(952) 556-6178
Lynne Patterson
CHN, District-wide
(952) 556-6177
Patricia Lange
Chaska MS West, Clover Ridge
(952) 556-7443
Erin Valenta
STAR, East Union, Victoria
(952) 556-6156

Teachers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HH) students, who are integrated full time into a general education classroom, are served by Itinerant D/HH Teachers.  “Deaf and hard of hearing” means a diminished sensitivity to sound, or hearing loss, that is expressed in terms of standard audiological measures. Hearing loss has the potential to affect educational, communicative, or social functioning that may result in the need for special education instruction and related services.

Three licensed Itinerant D/HH Teachers provide service to students from Kindergarten to age 21 years in Eastern Carver County Schools. Upon referral, these teachers administer assessments and evaluations to determine if the student meets the Minnesota state criteria for D/HH specialized services. They work collaboratively with students, parents, instructional, and support staff to develop individual family service plans (IFSP) for students under the age of three years old and individual education plans (IEP) for students who are three years of age and above. D/HH Itinerant Teachers provide instruction, educational guidance and information on the impact of hearing loss as it relates to communication, academics, and social development.

An Educational Audiologist is on staff to provide comprehensive audiology services to students who are deaf or hard of hearing and is an integral part of the D/HH team. The Educational Audiologist is trained and experienced in providing hearing and acoustic assistance for students in an educational setting. The focus of the Educational Audiologist is on hearing, listening, and auditory processing deficits that could affect a child’s academic success.

Direct D/HH Services might include: act as IEP manager for D/HH students and provide instruction in the following areas that are directly impacted by a hearing loss: auditory, communication, language, vocabulary, reading readiness skill development, and compensatory skill development in the learning environment.

Indirect D/HH Services might include: training staff and students about necessary classroom accommodations and assistive technology; teaching staff and students how to maximize the use of listening technology; teaching staff and students strategies that would improve the classroom listening environment as they relate to individual D/HH student needs. Providing community resources related to hearing loss to students and family.

Michelle Foss
(952) 556-6223
Darla Huaman
(952) 556-6224
Joan Klinger
(952) 556-6222
Amy Maisch
(952) 556-6225

Homebound  Instruction

The purpose of Homebound Instruction is to provide K-12 students, who are unable to attend classes at a school building for health reasons, with educational services. These services allow the students to maintain academic progress and to facilitate a successful transition back to a school building as quickly as possible.

Homebound Instructional Services are educational services provided to a student in the home or other non-school building site.  It is expected that homebound instructional services will be short-term and unless there are exceptional circumstances, homebound services shall not exceed 172 school days, i.e. the normal school year.  While a student is receiving homebound instructional services that student remains enrolled in and the responsibility of the school site the student attended immediately before receiving homebound instructional services.


Terri Cain
Homebound Instructor
(952) 556-6275

Occupational Therapists

Occupational Therapy in the school environment is a support service to assist in specialized education. It’s called a related service because we relate to the individualized education plan for students. We give general suggestions and support to teachers in the general education environment. In order to be eligible to receive OT services, students must have an educational need identified on the IEP that requires the specialized service of the OT in order to make progress. We work with people from birth to 21 years of age. Our service can be direct, indirect or a burst of service. We work with the IEP team and special education staff to promote student independence and success.

Our expertise is in the areas of:

  • Fine motor skills, hand development, scissors skills, handwriting, pencil grasp, coloring, keyboarding positioning
  • Sensory strategies and equipment, sensory regulation skills
  • Oral motor needs
  • Positioning and accessing the environment
  • Self help, buttoning, zipping, feeding skills
  • Adaptive equipment, pencil grips, Disco sits, slant boards, adapted scissors and paper
Shelly Brooks
Occupational Therapist
(952) 556-8964
Janet Holler
Occupational Therapist
(952) 556-6738
Nancy Jackley
Occupational Therapist
(952) 556-7216
Ruth Knutson
Occupational Therapist
(555) 555-5555
Amy Rochford
Occupational Therapist
(952) 556-6590

Physical Therapists

Physical Therapists in the school district provide the following services to any qualifying students in the district from birth to age 21:
Gross Motor Evaluation
Assess developmental abilities in the areas of mobility such as rolling, crawling, walking, balance and other skills.
Provide written documentation and data on evaluation reports
Evaluations completed every three years in conjunction with comprehensive assessments
Assess environmental accessibility and equipment needs for classroom and education goals

Develop and implement service plans to meet student’s IFSP/IEP goals.
Attend Individual Education Planning meetings
Provide direct and indirect service minutes to students
Provide progress reports per students IEP

Consult with staff and family to address student’s needs.
Provide informal resources and suggestions as requested to student’s team
Assist in training staff to work with students in their daily environment
Assist in development and modification of evacuation plans as needed

Trisha Rinzel
Physical Therapist
(952) 556-7206
Nicole Jesse
Physical Therapist
(952) 556-7215

School Psychologists

School psychologists help children and youth succeed academically, socially and emotionally. They have specialized training in both education and mental health to identify and minimize barriers to learning. These barriers may include: developmental or learning disabilities, social/emotional/behavior difficulties, learning styles, social challenges, chemical dependence, health and safety needs, and mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. School psychologist’s collaborate with parents, educators, and other professionals to promote safe, healthy and supportive learning environments.

School psychologist’s engage in a variety of activities to promote learning for all students. School psychologists:
Assist in designing individual programs for students who are facing specific school challenges
Collaborate with staff, parents, and students to identify effective solutions to learning and behavioral challenges
Evaluate and assess academic, cognitive, social, emotional, behavioral and functional skills
Assist families and staff in crisis management such as death, illness or community trauma
Utilize evidenced-based research to develop and/or recommend effective interventions and services
Work directly with students to overcome struggles in learning and/or overall development
Promote understanding and enhance programming to meet the needs of diverse learners
Evaluate and promote changes to enhance the learning environment

Information Adapted from: “What Is a School Psychologist”
Andrea Canter,  Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators, NASP, 2004.

Tina Daly
Megan Forgette
(952) 556-6485
Kathryn Gerber
Laura Gores
(952) 556-6937
Molly Jacobs
Linda Parsons
(952) 556-6684
Kathleen Petersen
(952) 556-6531
Christopher Walick
(952) 556-1449

School Social Workers

School social workers help link home, school and community. As members of the educational team school social workers enhance school success by supporting students’ personal, social, and emotional needs in home, school and community to assist in reducing social, emotional, economic and environmental barriers to learning. School social workers are trained in children’s mental health issues and the impact it has on learning and everyday functioning. School social workers provide direct and indirect services to students, families and school personnel to promote and support students’ academic and social success. School social workers support students through mental health support via individual and group skills training, problem solving, multi-tiered interventions, crisis prevention, conflict mediation, evaluation and progress monitoring. School social workers also support families by consulting and linking families to resources and community supports. School social workers are highly qualified to support positive social, emotional and behavioral development.


Erika Davis
Special Education Social Worker
(952) 556-7270
Erin Dickie
Special Education Social Worker
(952) 556-6830
Ashley Maxwell
Special Education Social Worker
(952) 556-8874
Brooke Davis
Special Education Social Worker
(952) 556-6683
Vickie Schaefer
Special Education Social Worker
(952) 556-7703
Josie Hoffman
Special Education County SSW
Jason Kosmatka
Special Education County SSW
Sarah Manthei
Special Education County SSW

Speech and Language Pathologists

A licensed Speech & Language pathologist provides service to students from birth to age 21 years in Eastern Carver County Schools. Upon referral, these teachers administer assessments and evaluations to determine if the student meets the Minnesota state criteria for Speech/Language specialized services. They work collaboratively with students, parents, instructional, and support staff.

Speech/Language Services might include: acting as the IEP manager, providing related services, consulting with general and specialized staff, or facilitating inclusion into the general education classroom and community settings for students affected by speech and/or language impairments.  They may provide instruction in the following areas that are directly impacted: fluency, communication, language, vocabulary, voice skill development, and articulation. Additional services might include: training staff and students about necessary classroom accommodations and assistive technology; teaching staff and students strategies that would improve the classroom speech & language environment as they relate to individual student needs and/or providing community resources related to speech & language to students and families.

Our staff includes: Lisa Baumann, Kristine Beer, Amber Bickel, Whitney Brauchla, Leslie Bubke, Christie Havlicek, Darcy Holter, Kathy Hurd, Ellen Liebe, Jane Matthesen, Bonnie Nunez, Salvador Nunez, Holly Paschke, Brittney Perlich, Michele Pulvermacher, Chris Schepers, Kate Schnettler, Connie Snow, Cheryl Street, Shelli Sutherland, Joan Synstelien, Julie Urban, Robyn Young.

Teachers of Developmental Adaptive Physical Education (DAPE)

Developmental Adapted Physical Education (or DAPE as it is also called) means specially designed physical education instruction and services for pupils with disabilities who have a substantial delay or disorder in physical development. Developmental adapted physical education: special education instruction for pupils age three through 21 may include development of physical fitness, motor fitness, fundamental motor skills and patterns, skills in aquatics, dance, individual and group games, and sports.

Students with conditions such as obesity, temporary injuries, and short-term or temporary illnesses or disabilities are termed special needs students. Special needs students are not eligible for developmental adapted physical education: special education. Provisions for these students must be made within regular physical education as described in Minnesota Statutes, section 126.02. (M.R.3525.1352, subp 1)

The National Consortium for Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPERID) defines adapted physical education as the following:

Developmental Adapted physical education (DAPE) is PE which may be adapted or modified to address the individualized needs of children and youth who have gross motor developmental delays. This service should include the following:

* Assessment and instruction by qualified personnel means that professionals are prepared to gather assessment date and provide adapted physical education instruction for adapted children and youth with disabilities and developmental delays.
* Accurate assessment data, including diagnostic and curriculum-based data collected by qualified personnel.
* Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goals and Objectives / Benchmarks and assessment are measurable and objective statements written by the adapted physical education instructor. The goals and objectives of assessment are reflective of the adapted physical education instructional content and monitored/evaluated according to district policy, to ensure that goals and objectives are being met in a timely manner.
* Instruction in a Least Restricted Environment (LRE) refers to adapting or modifying the physical education curriculum and/or instruction to address the individualized abilities of each child. Adaptations are made to ensure that each student will experience success in a safe environment for assessment. Placement is outlined in the IEP and may include one or more of the following options:

The general adapted PE setting for assessment
The general adapted PE setting with a teaching assistant or peers
A separate class setting with peers
A separate class setting with assistants for assessment
A one-to-one setting between students and the instructor

For all practical purposes, Adapted Physical Education IS developmentally appropriate physical education at its finest. It is adapting, modifying, and/or changing a physical activity so it is as appropriate for the person with a disability as it is for a person without a disability.

The DAPE teacher is a direct service provider, not a related service provider, because special physical education is a federally mandated component of special education services [U.S.C.A. 1402 (25)]. This means that adapted PE needs to be provided to the student with a disability as part of the child’s special education. This is contrasted with physical therapy and occupational therapy, which are related services. These therapies are provided to the child with disabilities only if he/she needs them to benefit from instruction.

Change the word “adapted” to “modified” and you have the idea of Adapted Physical Education. It is GOOD teaching which adapts (modifies) the curriculum, task, equipment, and/or environment so that ALL students can fully participate in physical education.

Tom Becker
East Union, Jonathan, CME
(952) 556-6853
Brad Miller
(952) 556-7128
Julie Running
BCE, CMW, CNS, FLC, IAA, LaAcademia
(952) 556-8959

Teacher of Students with Physical Impairment/Other Health Impaired

Work primarily with students that have a physical impairment from birth to age 21. Also work with students with health impairments and traumatic brain injuries. This teacher travels to wherever the students are in the district. Some of the services provided are: offering ideas and support for differential instruction, providing support for instruction in organizational and independent work skills; consulting on adaptations and modifications needed to access students’ environments and curriculum and provide resources to parents, teachers, and staff. Other responsibilities as an IEP team member include assisting with writing IEP goals, adaptations/modifications and completing evaluations.

Karen Talbert
Physical/Health Disability
(952) 556-6614
Teacher of Students with Vision Impairment

As a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI) the primary responsibility is to provide specialized instruction and services required to meet the unique educational needs of students with visual impairments. Following are some of the responsibilities as a TSVI.

*Assist the student, parents, special and regular education personnel, and the student’s sighted peers in understanding the unique educational needs and learning characteristics of visually impaired students. This is accomplished by maintaining connections to services and support available from local programs for visually impaired students, and acquiring information regarding local, state, and national resources for the education of visually impaired students.

  • Assure that large-type or braille texts, supplementary materials, educational, aids, and equipment needed by the visually impaired student, and the classroom teacher, are provided in a timely manner to ensure the student’s maximum participation in all classroom activities
  • Provide instruction in the development and maintenance of skills to meet the student’s unique educational needs in the following areas, as indicated in the IEP:

* Low vision & visual efficiency skills
* Concept development & academic skills
* Career & vocational education skills
* Communication skills (these skills include braille reading and writing as appropriate)
* Social/emotional skills and abilities, & sensory motor skills.

  • Prepare sequential and meaningful instruction geared to the student’s assessed needs, IEP goals and objectives, functioning, and motivational levels.
  • Provide assistance to the classroom teacher in academic subjects and activities of the classroom that, as a direct result of the student’s visual impairment, require adaptation for the student.
  • Provide initial and ongoing assessment: ?consults with assessment team to determine appropriate testing materials and modifications needed,
  • Conduct functional vision/learning media assessments and produces written reports.
  • Maintain ongoing contact with parents to assist them in the development of a realistic understanding of their child’s abilities, progress, and future goals.
  • Provides in-service training programs for school personnel and students and education for parents regarding the needs of visually impaired students and adaptations, programs, and services for these students.
  • Coordinate with other personnel, such as transcribers, readers, counselors, O&M specialists, career/vocational education staff, and rehabilitation counselors.
  • Maintain a current reference library of professional materials and resources.
  • Acquire information and training about current research, development, and technology.
  • Provide instruction in appropriate academic and non-academic content areas to the visually impaired student in the classroom.
Tim Greeley
Teacher for the Visually Impaired
(952) 556-8889