Making a Difference Award
Laura Snyder, Joan Saatkamp, and Randi Riemann, Transition Specialists serving Mid-State Special Education (MSSE) member districts in Bond, Christian, Fayette, Macoupin, and Montgomery counties, were honored with the You Make the Difference award during the Mid-State Special Education Executive Committee Board meeting on October 21, 2020. The transition specialists implement a variety of transition services utilizing funding through the Department of Human Services (DHS) Secondary Transition Experience Program (STEP) as well as provide the important supports and expertise as students plan and transition during the high school years. They partner with businesses in the many communities we serve which allows students to obtain work experiences with guidance and support while exploring possible future careers and obtaining employment skills. The collaboration of a transition specialist with high school teachers, guidance counselors, and families assists students in the transition after high school to either employment, group home living with supported employment, technical/trade school, community college, or university.
During this past spring when all schools were remote as well as throughout the summer and fall, the transition specialists took advantage of an additional program through DHS which encouraged continued direct supports and contacts with students which allowed for continued progression toward their transition goals. The one-on-one interaction with students via phone calls, Zoom or Google Meet, and even in-person was very important to many students’ well-being over several difficult months as it provided a check-in and connection with a caring adult. For our 2020 seniors, the contact and follow-up by the transition specialist provided the necessary supports so that students were successful in the transition to their chosen next step following graduation even in spite of the pandemic.
Mrs. Snyder, who has worked for MSSE as a special education teacher before serving as a transition specialist for 21 years, coordinates the DHS STEP contract along with serving the Carlinville, Hillsboro, Litchfield, and Panhandle school districts and communities. She resides in Raymond with her husband, Kendall, and has four grown sons. Mrs. Saatkamp worked for MSSE as a special education teacher for 25 years prior to serving the Bond, Brownstown, Mulberry Grove, Ramsey, St. Elmo, and Vandalia districts as a transition specialist for the last 4 years. She resides in rural Pana with her husband, Tom, and has a grown son and daughter. Mrs. Riemann has worked as a transition specialist for MSSE for 10 years and for the past 2 years has also served the Edinburg, Morrisonville, and South Fork districts as their program coordinator. She resides in Raymond with her husband, Adam, and two school-age sons.
On behalf of the MSSE Governing Board, Executive Committee, and administration, each was recognized for her dedication and commitment to the education and well-being of all students as well as for her expertise in the area of transition services, innovation, compassion, and heartfelt enthusiasm for the students, staff, families, and communities served.