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Learning New Skills To Help High School Students

Collage of photos of gabrielle, Audrey, Deanna (with her husband Colby) and table with four people arround it.

NNCIL, in conjunction with the Nevada Statewide Independent Living Council, is providing scholarships for three Northern Nevada high school teachers to attend the 2023 National Council on Independent Living conference in Washington D.C., July 24-27.  

Gabrielle Paredes teaches Strategies at McQueen High School in Reno, where she collaborates with three special education teachers using up-to-date, evidence-based instructional methods to help students with autism and intellectual disabilities. A big part of that is teaching life skills like finances, filling out an application, reading informational texts and working at a job; as well as interpersonal and social skills like finding and maintaining friendships. “I love learning more about what I do and how to support kids and getting them ready for life,” she says. She’s excited about attending the conference and learning more skills to strengthen her team while finding practical ways to better support her students and teaching them how to advocate for themselves. She also works with administrators and other special education teachers in the district, where she plans to share the knowledge gained from the conference. “Often our students find the transition into adulthood daunting,” she says. “I look forward to using this new knowledge to help prepare them and their parents for independent living after high school.”

Deanna Johnson teaches Strategies for students with autism at Hug High School in Reno. As someone who is always looking for new ways to teach and connect with her students, she’s looking forward to attending the conference so she can become more knowledgeable about the resources available to her students. “I work at a Title 1 school and parents often say that they’ll keep their child at home due to not realizing the amazing opportunities that are available for people with significant disabilities,” she says. “I want to be able to help my students become as independent as possible and have the opportunity to experience life milestones such as working and living away from home.” In addition to providing resources for her own students, Deanna is planning to share the information with other teachers and administrators. 

Audrey Clark is also at Hug High School in Reno, where she co-teaches freshman English, as well as 11th/12th grade SSTS/Life Skills. “I am always thirsty for knowledge when it comes to giving all of my students what they need to be their best selves, whether it’s academically or socially/emotionally,” she says. “I believe that education is incredibly important, as is knowing how to live a life independently and be someone in the world who achieves everything they want to.” She says that the knowledge gained at the conference will allow her to be a better advocate for her students while also allowing her to be a resource for her colleagues. “We as a community will be able to come together for our students to help provide them with the best foundation for their lives outside of these walls.” 

They’ll be accompanied by NNCIL Blind/Low Vision Advocacy & Resource Officer Mark Tadder. We have asked all of them to send us photos and updates of their experiences. Follow NNCIL on our Facebook page to see their experience in real time, and we’ll provide their full story in our next newsletter.

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