My name is Debbie Tschida and I am the Significant Support Needs teacher here at Cotton Creek Elementary. I have been teaching students with a variety of severe to profound needs for 27 years; the last 15 years here at Cotton Creek.
A little bit about me; I grew up in Colorado and attended school in Adams District 50. I have a wonderful husband who is retired from the army with 21 years in, a 16 year old son, two adult step children, and three grandchildren. I love to country dance and recently I’ve gotten into beading – making earnings, zipper pulls, etc…
I received my BA in psychology from Colorado State University. Upon graduation I worked for several years in a residential treatment facility with boys having significant emotional problems. From there I moved to working as a special needs paraeducator here in Adams 12. During that time I worked on my master’s degree and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a MA in Special Education: Profound Need. I started my teaching career in Adams District 50 starting a new significant needs program. After 5 years, I took a break and went to work for the Community College of Denver North Campus teaching in and eventually running their paraeducator certificate program. I was able to bring our certificate program to Adams12 and prepared several paraeducators for an associate’s degree. In 2004, the SSN teacher at Cotton Creek retired and I was excited to get the position.
Through the significant needs program, I am able to work with students on life skills, behavior, communication, academics, and anything else they may need. In the area of communication I have been trained to use PECS, some sign language, and a variety of assistive tech devices. Most recently I’m learning a communication system on the ipad. The student’s I work with always have a variety of behaviors, so I have training in Crisis Prevention Intervention, deep pressure, reward systems, relaxation techniques, and many other strategies. I believe life skills are learned best in the natural environment, so we use every opportunity provided to teach and reinforce those skills. We cover everything from eating and toilet training, to how to order off a menu at McDonalds. As far as functional academics, I provide individualized, direct instruction in reading, writing, and math. We do our best to make sure students participate in class projects at their level, and that they spend as much time learning in the general education classroom as is appropriate for them. Other areas I have received training are English Language Learners, T.E.A.C.C.H., which is a specific structured teaching method, sensory integration techniques, and the use of fine and gross motor adaptive devices.
Independence is our focus. Everything we do is to make each student an independent learner however that looks for that child. I believe all kids can learn and have something to offer. We all come in contact with a variety of people with a variety of needs throughout our lives; school is the best time for everyone to learn how to find and use their strengths and be contributing members of society to the best of their abilities.