IOScholarships Certified as a Minority-Owned Business

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two diverse tech students in classroom reviewing work on computer screen

IOScholarships (IOS), the first of its kind free scholarship and financial education platform for minority STEM students announced it was granted its Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification as a validation of its status as a minority-owned business.

The certification verifies that IOScholarships, LLC meets the criteria which requires a business to be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by racial or ethnic minorities who are also U.S. citizens.

“Getting our MBE certification was a natural step for IOScholarships as we continue our ongoing commitment to minority students. We look forward to working with our sponsors and partners to continue helping underrepresented students go to college debt-free.” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships.

Most of the scholarships featured on www.ioscholarships.com come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. Each month IOScholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and also posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities. The platform also offers a blog with financial education information and a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

IOScholarships is proud to join the National Scholarship Providers Association an organization that offers tools, resources, professional development, and networking needed to administer a successful scholarship and student support program. In 2019, NSPA awarded $4,275,054,382 to 827,327 students.

For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

The short supply of special education teachers

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A child in a wheelchair at the park with his special education teacher

By the School of Education

Special education teachers ensure an equitable education to millions of students across the nation. With 14 percent of students needing some type of special education service, these teachers play a key role in making sure all students have a chance to thrive academically. General education teachers and students alike rely on special education teachers’ specialized knowledge in skills assessment and the development of learning activities with special needs and disabilities in mind. For this reason, the current special education teacher shortage is especially worrying. So, what’s causing this shortage, and how can leaders begin to address it?

Current and aspiring educators looking for a deeper analysis of the issue should consider American University’s Online School of Education, which offers students expert knowledge about special education challenges, preparing them to address the current shortage.

An Overview of the Current Special Education Teacher Shortage
Special education teacher shortages have persisted for years, putting the education of the country’s most vulnerable students in a precarious position. The Office of Special Education Programs currently lists the national shortage at 8 percent. This large and growing problem affects schools across the country, but the shortage pertains to more than just insufficient numbers of special education teachers.

The shortage also refers to inadequate numbers of properly trained special education teachers. In fact, many first-year special education teachers across the country have not completed special education preparation programs. In California for example, of the 8,470 new special education teachers hired in 2017-18, only 3,274 were fully credentialed.

To gain more insight into the special education teacher shortage, consider the following statistics:

  • Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia lack sufficient special education teachers.
  • Special education teachers leave teaching at almost double the rate of general education teachers.
  • More than half of all school districts struggle to staff well-qualified special education teachers.
  • Ninety percent of high-poverty school districts struggle to staff well-qualified special education teachers.
  • Up to 29 percent of vacated special education teacher positions are due to attrition.
  • Unequal Distributions of the Special Education Teacher Shortage

    While the special education teacher shortage affects schools across the spectrum, it tends to impact high-poverty schools most acutely. They face the greatest challenges when it comes to attracting properly trained and experienced special education teachers.

    In recent years, enrollment in all teacher preparation programs has dropped considerably, and the number of people completing special education programs has dropped 14 percent, meaning fewer credentialed teachers are available for a growing number of vacancies. Low-income and rural schools find it especially hard to attract and retain the dwindling number of special education teachers. The special education teachers these schools do manage to hire often have less experience than those hired by more affluent schools. For example, many special education teachers in urban and rural districts work with provisional licenses after meeting just a few requirements:

  • An undergraduate degree
  • Nine credit hours of coursework covering both general and special education
  • Successful completion of a basic skills exam
  • Typically, special education teachers at high-poverty schools have received less special education training and are more likely to hold certifications in areas other than special education compared with teachers at low-poverty schools.

    Attrition and the Consequences of the Special Education Teacher Shortage

    Data shows that teachers with limited preparation tend to drop out of the profession more frequently than those who finish traditional preparation programs. The reliance on provisional and alternative credentialing programs that send underprepared special education teachers into classrooms contributes to the high teacher turnover rate.

    This constant churn of losing and rebuilding teaching faculties comes at a price. Several studies have shown teacher attrition can lower student achievement in English language arts and math and hurt the overall effectiveness of teachers in a school. In addition to the academic price, teacher attrition has a huge financial price tag: the Learning Policy Institute estimates it costs approximately $8 billion dollars a year. As teachers cycle through the profession in increasing numbers, districts must funnel huge amounts of money into recruiting and training new educators to replace them.

    The public school system is based on equity. The reputations of the teaching profession and the system rest on their ability to provide stable learning environments to all students. As such, the ongoing special education teacher shortage compromises the entire public school system and tarnishes the profession’s reputation. It creates instability, limits students’ learning opportunities, and results in countless hours of lost instructional time. Additionally, the fact the shortages disproportionately affect marginalized students widens the achievement gap and raises questions of educational equity.

    A Look at the Reasons Behind the Special Education Teacher Shortage

    Several factors are driving the special education teacher shortage. As mentioned, steep enrollment declines in teacher education programs, alongside high attrition for special education teachers, contribute to the shortage. Working conditions, low pay, and insufficient training and support also factor heavily.

    Stressful Working Conditions for Special Education Teachers

    Special education teachers often work in stressful environments. Just like general education teachers, they must deal with the challenges of student poverty, insufficient parental involvement, student absenteeism, and a lack of resources. However, they also must contend with excessive paperwork and overwhelming caseloads without the support they need.

    For example, special education teachers can find themselves in classrooms without aides trying to teach 20 students with different special needs who require customized instruction. On top of that, they may have a caseload of 20 students who require individualized education programs (IEPs), annual testing, and regular meetings with parents and other teachers. Additionally, failing to meet deadlines or submit necessary paperwork can constitute a federal offense, as IEPs are federally mandated, which puts further pressure on special education teachers.

    Click here to read the full article on the School of Education.

    Can Virtual Reality Help Autistic Children Navigate the Real World?

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    Mr. Ravindran adjusts his son’s VR headset between lessons. “It was one of the first times I’d seen him do pretend play like that,” Mr. Ravindran said of the time when his son used Google Street View through a headset, then went into his playroom and acted out what he had experienced in VR. “It ended up being a light bulb moment.

    By Gautham Nagesh, New York Times

    This article is part of Upstart, a series on young companies harnessing new science and technology.

    Vijay Ravindran has always been fascinated with technology. At Amazon, he oversaw the team that built and started Amazon Prime. Later, he joined the Washington Post as chief digital officer, where he advised Donald E. Graham on the sale of the newspaper to his former boss, Jeff Bezos, in 2013.

    By late 2015, Mr. Ravindran was winding down his time at the renamed Graham Holdings Company. But his primary focus was his son, who was then 6 years old and undergoing therapy for autism.

    “Then an amazing thing happened,” Mr. Ravindran said.

    Mr. Ravindran was noodling around with a virtual reality headset when his son asked to try it out. After spending 30 minutes using the headset in Google Street View, the child went to his playroom and started acting out what he had done in virtual reality.

    “It was one of the first times I’d seen him do pretend play like that,” Mr. Ravindran said. “It ended up being a light bulb moment.”

    Like many autistic children, Mr. Ravindran’s son struggled with pretend play and other social skills. His son’s ability to translate his virtual reality experience to the real world sparked an idea. A year later, Mr. Ravindran started a company called Floreo, which is developing virtual reality lessons designed to help behavioral therapists, speech therapists, special educators and parents who work with autistic children.

    The idea of using virtual reality to help autistic people has been around for some time, but Mr. Ravindran said the widespread availability of commercial virtual reality headsets since 2015 had enabled research and commercial deployment at much larger scale. Floreo has developed almost 200 virtual reality lessons that are designed to help children build social skills and train for real world experiences like crossing the street or choosing where to sit in the school cafeteria.

    Last year, as the pandemic exploded demand for telehealth and remote learning services, the company delivered 17,000 lessons to customers in the United States. Experts in autism believe the company’s flexible platform could go global in the near future.

    That’s because the demand for behavioral and speech therapy as well as other forms of intervention to address autism is so vast. Getting a diagnosis for autism can take months — crucial time in a child’s development when therapeutic intervention can be vital. And such therapy can be costly and require enormous investments of time and resources by parents.

    The Floreo system requires an iPhone (version 7 or later) and a V.R. headset (a low-end model costs as little as $15 to $30), as well as an iPad, which can be used by a parent, teacher or coach in-person or remotely. The cost of the program is roughly $50 per month. (Floreo is currently working to enable insurance reimbursement, and has received Medicaid approval in four states.)

    A child dons the headset and navigates the virtual reality lesson, while the coach — who can be a parent, teacher, therapist, counselor or personal aide — monitors and interacts with the child through the iPad.

    The lessons cover a wide range of situations, such as visiting the aquarium or going to the grocery store. Many of the lessons involve teaching autistic children, who may struggle to interpret nonverbal cues, to interpret body language.

    Autistic self-advocates note that behavioral therapy to treat autism is controversial among those with autism, arguing that it is not a disease to be cured and that therapy is often imposed on autistic children by their non-autistic parents or guardians. Behavioral therapy, they say, can harm or punish children for behaviors such as fidgeting. They argue that rather than conditioning autistic people to act like neurotypical individuals, society should be more welcoming of them and their different manner of experiencing the world.

    “A lot of the mismatch between autistic people and society is not the fault of autistic people, but the fault of society,” said Zoe Gross, the director of advocacy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “People should be taught to interact with people who have different kinds of disabilities.”

    Mr. Ravindran said Floreo respected all voices in the autistic community, where needs are diverse. He noted that while Floreo was used by many behavioral health providers, it had been deployed in a variety of contexts, including at schools and in the home.

    “The Floreo system is designed to be positive and fun, while creating positive reinforcement to help build skills that help acclimate to the real world,” Mr. Ravindran said.

    In 2017, Floreo secured a $2 million fast track grant from the National Institutes of Health. The company is first testing whether autistic children will tolerate headsets, then conducting a randomized control trial to test the method’s usefulness in helping autistic people interact with the police.

    Early results have been promising: According to a study published in the Autism Research journal (Mr. Ravindran was one of the authors), 98 percent of the children completed their lessons, quelling concerns about autistic children with sensory sensitivities being resistant to the headsets.

    Ms. Gross said she saw potential in virtual reality lessons that helped people rehearse unfamiliar situations, such as Floreo’s lesson on crossing the street. “There are parts of Floreo to get really excited about: the airport walk through, or trick or treating — a social story for something that doesn’t happen as frequently in someone’s life,” she said, adding that she would like to see a lesson for medical procedures.

    However, she questioned a general emphasis by the behavioral therapy industry on using emerging technologies to teach autistic people social skills.

    A second randomized control trial using telehealth, conducted by Floreo using another N.I.H. grant, is underway, in hopes of showing that Floreo’s approach is as effective as in-person coaching.

    But it was those early successes that convinced Mr. Ravindran to commit fully to the project.

    “There were just a lot of really excited people.,” he said. “When I started showing families what we had developed, people would just give me a big hug. They would start crying that there was someone working on such a high-tech solution for their kids.”

    Clinicians who have used the Floreo system say the virtual reality environment makes it easier for children to focus on the skill being taught in the lessons, unlike in the real world where they might be overwhelmed by sensory stimuli.

    Celebrate the Children, a nonprofit private school in Denville, N.J., for children with autism and related challenges, hosted one of the early pilots for Floreo; Monica Osgood, the school’s co-founder and executive director, said the school had continued to use the system.

    Click here to read the full article on New York Times.

    How this TikTok star became an ‘accidental’ disability rights activist

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    TikTok influencer

    By Sarah Jacoby, TODAY

    Mya Pol recalls being full of energy and “super rambunctious” as a child. “I would literally run laps around the house,” she told TODAY’s Sheinelle Jones.

    But as she got older, Pol said she began to experience puzzling symptoms, which hit a peak in her sophomore year of college. At first, she shrugged it off as a side effect of her life as a student.

    But “the weakness and fatigue continued to get worse until it reached a point where I was collapsing walking back from my classes,” she said.

    Pol was diagnosed with a genetic condition, as well as a probable neurological disorder, that made it necessary for her to use a wheelchair. She soon realized how much more challenging it was for her to navigate the world. So Pol, who calls herself an “accidental activist,” decided to join TikTok to shed light on the challenges that people with disabilities encounter regularly.

    With the username @immarollwith it, Pol posts joyful dance routines, answers questions about her life with a disability and shares resources for others who need mobility aids, for instance.

    “I pride myself in being positive and searching for joy wherever I can,” Pol said. “And regardless of what life throws at me, I want to roll with it.”

    She also shares TikTok videos that show some of the challenges she encounters as a wheelchair user, like the curbs outside of her school’s dining hall, as well as the little changes that make environments more accessible, such as the doorstop-like devices in her dorm room and campus bathroom, which people may not realize can be adjusted to make the doors close more slowly.

    “A lot of them are really tight, which makes the door extremely heavy, which reduces access for people with strength issues, with pain issues, like arthritis or wheelchair users,” she explained. Pol made a post about the doorstop, showing that it has adjustable settings. She received hundreds of positive comments, including from some people who were ready to make their own spaces more accessible.

    At times, Pol told TODAY, she can feel frustrated and invisible. “To know that there’s a world out there that chooses to exclude you, that chooses to not make the necessary changes to create systems that can support you, is soul-crushing,” she said. “To know that for the rest of my life, I’m going to be looking at tens of thousands of dollars extra for anything that I want, is frustrating, soul-crushing and heartbreaking — especially when I know it doesn’t have to be this way.”

    Click here to read the full article on Today.

    How To Get Your Student Loan Forgiven if You Have a Disability

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    Young man with disabilities working on his stock market portfolio for an employer

    By Vance Cariaga, Go Banking Rates

    The Biden administration recently announced that it has cancelled $7 billion in federal student loan debt for about 350,000 borrowers with disabilities through a data-sharing initiative between the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Education. If you plan to apply for forgiveness under the plan, you’ll need to follow certain steps to see if you qualify.

    The first thing you need to know is that there are three ways to qualify for a total and permanent disability discharge, Forbes reported. These involve veterans, those who meet Social Security disability criteria and those with a doctor’s certification. Here’s a quick rundown:

    1. Veterans: You might qualify for forgiveness if you have a service-connected disability that is 100% disabling or an individual unemployability rating qualifies you as disabled.
    2. Social Security Disability: You might qualify if you receive benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
    3. Doctor’s certification:  You might qualify if you have certification from a medical doctor that you’re unable to take part in any “substantial gainful activity” because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death, has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.

    To apply for student loan forgiveness, you’ll need to submit a Total and Permanent Disability Discharge application on the Federal Student Aid website and provide supporting documentation of your total and permanent disability, Forbes reported. The exceptions are if the Education Department contacts you directly based on information received from the SSA or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In this case, you don’t have to provide supporting documents.

    The moratorium on federal student loan payments was recently extended until Sept. 1. Once payments resume, you won’t have to pay federal student loans while your application for student loan forgiveness is reviewed.

    If you don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness due to your disability, you might still qualify for forgiveness in other ways.

    Click here to read the full article on Go Banking Rates.

    Recognizing Learning Disabilities

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    student with learning disability in classroom

    As seen in DIVERSEability Magazine

    Many children have trouble reading, writing or performing other learning-related tasks at some point. This does not mean they have learning disabilities.

    A child with a learning disability often has several related signs, and they don’t go away or get better over time. The signs of learning disabilities vary from person to person.

    Please note that the generally common signs included here are for informational purposes only; the information is not intended to screen for learning disabilities in general or for a specific type of learning disability.

    Common signs that a person may have learning disabilities include the following:

    • Problems reading and/or writing
    • Problems with math
    • Poor memory
    • Problems paying attention
    • Trouble following directions
    • Clumsiness
    • Trouble telling time
    • Problems staying organized

    A child with a learning disability also may have one or more of the following:

    • Acting without really thinking about possible outcomes (impulsiveness)
    • “Acting out” in school or social situations
    • Difficulty staying focused; being easily distracted
    • Difficulty saying a word correctly out loud or expressing thoughts
    • Problems with school performance from week to week or day to day
    • Speaking like a younger child; using short, simple phrases; or leaving out words in sentences
    • Having a hard time listening
    • Problems dealing with changes in schedule or situations
    • Problems understanding words or concepts

    These signs alone are not enough to determine that a person has a learning disability. Only a professional can diagnose a learning disability.

    Each learning disability has its own signs. A person with a particular disability may not have all of the signs of that disability.

    Children being taught in a second language may show signs of learning problems or a learning disability. The learning disability assessment must take into account whether a student is bilingual or a second language learner. In addition, for English-speaking children, the assessment should be sensitive to differences that may be due to dialect, a form of a language that is specific to a region or group.

    Below are some common learning disabilities and the signs associated with them:

    Dyslexia

    People with dyslexia usually have trouble making the connection between letters and sounds and with spelling and recognizing words.

    People with dyslexia often show other signs of the condition. These may include:

    • Having a hard time understanding what others are saying
    • Difficulty organizing written and spoken language
    • Delay in being able to speak
    • Difficulty expressing thoughts or feelings
    • Difficulty learning new words (vocabulary), either while reading or hearing
    • Trouble learning foreign languages
    • Difficulty learning songs and rhymes
    • Slow rate of reading, both silently and out loud
    • Giving up on longer reading tasks
    • Difficulty understanding questions and following directions
    • Poor spelling
    • Problems remembering numbers in sequence (for example, telephone numbers and addresses)
    • Trouble telling left from right

    Dysgraphia

    A child who has trouble writing or has very poor handwriting and does not outgrow it may have dysgraphia. This disorder may cause a child to be tense and twist awkwardly when holding a pen or pencil.

    Other signs of this condition may include:

    • A strong dislike of writing and/or drawing
    • Problems with grammar
    • Trouble writing down ideas
    • Losing energy or interest as soon as they start writing
    • Trouble writing down thoughts in a logical sequence
    • Saying words out loud while writing
    • Leaving words unfinished or omitting them when writing sentences

    Dyscalculia

    Signs of this disability include problems understanding basic arithmetic concepts, such as fractions, number lines, and positive and negative numbers.

    Other symptoms may include:

    • Difficulty with math-related word problems
    • Trouble making change in cash transactions
    • Messiness in putting math problems on paper
    • Trouble with logical sequences (for example, steps in math problems)
    • Trouble understanding the time sequence of events
    • Trouble describing math processes

    To find out more about learning disabilities and what you can do to combat these issues, visit nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/learningdisabilities.

     

    Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

    Schools turn to dogs to help ease Michigan’s student mental health crisis

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    dogs from michigan school help with student mental health crisis

    By Koby Levin,  Detroit Freep

    There are many ways to address a youth mental health crisis, including throwing a massive birthday party for a dog named Gravy.

    A sweet-natured chocolate Lab, Gravy quickly became a celebrity to students at Grand Ledge High School after she started working there as a therapy dog in September. She showed off tricks in the hallways with her handler, Dean of Students Maria Capra. When students knelt to pet Gravy, she crawled onto their laps.

    So when students learned that Gravy’s first birthday fell just before Thanksgiving break, they asked Capra whether they could throw a party.

    She said sure, thinking it wouldn’t amount to much. Then the student council put up posters around the school, inviting all of the school’s 1,600 students to attend. Students made a crown and a skirt for Gravy, while others set up a donation drive for the local animal shelter in her honor.

    On the big day, “I really didn’t know what to expect,” Capra recalled. “I thought it might be a classroom of 30 kids.

    “There were several hundred students in this gymnasium.”

    The pandemic has been hard on students in Grand Ledge and across the U.S. Many young people experienced isolation, disruption and the loss of loved ones, leading to an alarming rise in suicide rates and prompting the American Academy of Pediatrics to declare a national emergency in children’s mental health.

    Schools have responded by hiring social workers, expanding their social-emotional learning curricula and, in some cases, purchasing dogs.

    Gravy is one of at least a dozen dogs who have been introduced to students during the pandemic in schools across Michigan.

    Districts are buying dogs and covering the costs of their training with their share of Michigan’s $6 billion in federal COVID-19 funds for education.

    One reason: The dogs make kids happy.

    “He’s kind of like a rock star; when the kids see him coming, they smile,” said Traci Souva, an art teacher at North Huron Schools who handles Chipper, the district’s new golden mountain doodle. “A lot of times the kids will tell Chipper what’s wrong rather than adults, and that’s pretty magical.”

    Another reason: The dogs appeal to administrators wary of using one-time federal funds to incur recurring costs like hiring new people.

    “We wanted to ensure that we were using the funds in a way that was going to make a lasting impact,” said Bill Barnes, assistant superintendent for Academic Services at Grand Ledge Public Schools.

    And one more: Research suggests that the presence of a trained dog lowers children’s stress, fosters a positive attitude toward learning, and smooths interactions between students and other children.

    Click here to read the full article on Detroit Freep.

    18 Celebrities Who Have Opened Up About Raising a Kid With a Disability

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    Denise Richards, Holly Robinson Peete - both celebrities with kids who have a disability - standing in dresses in front of an orange background

    By Kristyn Burtt, SheKnows

    What’s been amazing in the age of social media is how open some celebrities are about their personal lives. It’s obviously a choice to let fans in, but many stars are helping to bring to awareness for good causes by talking about their families and some of the struggles they may face. When Hollywood opens up about raising celebrity kids with disabilities, they can bring more money to research and help de-stigmatize what it means to deal with these challenges.

    Sylvester Stallone was one of the first major Hollywood actors to go on record to talk about his son, Seargeoh Stallone. He didn’t shy away from the news and filmed a PSA in 1990 where he declared, “Imagine your child has autism, mine does.” In 2021, that doesn’t seem like breaking news, but 31 years ago, it was a big deal.

    Stallone helped pave the way for former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Denise Richards to share her journey with adopted daughter Eloise, who turns 10 on May 25. Eloise has a chromosomal disorder, which has led to developmental delays, but that hasn’t stopped Richards from seeking the best treatment possible for her younger daughter. “Every child is different,” she told People in 2020. “You take care of your children no matter what is going on with them.”

    Her words of inspiration help other parents (famous or not) keep on going on those tough days because everyone wants the best life for their child. Find out which stars have shared their family’s story about raising a child with a disability — some of the names might surprise you!

    Click here to read the full article on SheKnows.

    Scholarship Connoisseur Encourages Students to Apply for STEM Scholarships and Internship Opportunities Now

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    female grad student wearing her graduate robe and holding cap in her hand

    IOScholarships is the first of its kind scholarship and financial education platform for minority and underrepresented STEM students. The technology has been designed with a streamlined user-friendly interface that offers great functionality to help high school, undergraduate and graduate students find scholarships and internship opportunities. IOScholarships proprietary matching algorithm can match students with life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

    “Now is the time for students to apply for college scholarships,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships. “While there are many scholarships that have qualifications like a minimum 3.5 GPA, there are just as many that have lower GPA requirements or don’t even take GPA into consideration at all.”

    GPA is an important factor for getting scholarships but is not the only thing that’s important. Schools are looking for dedicated students, who contribute to their community or are involved in STEM organizations or activities. They want to see leadership and perseverance, and while these can sort of be reflected in a GPA, they mostly shine through in extracurriculars.

    The majority of the scholarships featured on IOScholarships come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive university pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. There’s plenty of money that goes unused every year, students just have to search for it.

    Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Instagram social media accounts(@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

    In addition to providing scholarships, the IOScholarships platform features a scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

    For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

    What you need to know if you’re teaching a student with a disability

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    Dean Pan is studying secondary teaching, specialising in Technology Applied Studies. He lives with a spinal cord injury, and despite his disability, he continues his interest in woodworking.

    By Dean Pan, ABC

    Over my 9 years in a wheelchair, I have learnt to adapt to many situations.

    People often doubt my ability to do basic tasks, and even though that’s sometimes true, through hard work and passion, and with the help from others, I constantly find ways to go against the stereotype.

    Having a disability comes with its limitations but it won’t completely hold someone back.

    Currently, I’m in my final year of teaching, and the biggest incentive for me being a teacher is the opportunity to improve the lives of younger individuals.

    During my placements, there have been countless positive experiences in the classroom. One standout was teaching a student who used a wheelchair and found woodworking quite difficult. It appeared she may have been seeing her disability as the cause, yet I saw she was trying to use the handsaw incorrectly. It wasn’t her disability holding her back, it was her mindset. Her eyes lit up when she realised she could do it.

    When I was younger, I struggled with using hand tools, but when my teacher found a way around it, I felt like I could build anything then topped the class in HSC Industrial Technology: Timber.

    Teaching a student with a disability may be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have, but it comes with its challenges.

    Differentiation is crucial
    You’ll need to adapt the way your disabled student can complete tasks.

    Afterwards, ask the student to give you feedback on the tasks you’re giving them, to make sure they feel like they have the best opportunity for academic success.

    Be approachable
    It helps to build rapport, so use break times to go into the playground and have lunch with the students. Relationships are key to engaging your students.

    Too often I hear stories of teachers being overly strict, and students express to me that their teachers aren’t listening to them. Reflect on yourself and your teaching practice. Ask yourself, “When a student is in my class (or talking to me), what are they up against?”

    Avoid deficit thinking
    Your student would be a regular developing individual like everyone else if they didn’t have their condition. So, speak directly to them, not to their teacher’s aide or support worker.

    Often when I’m out for dinner with my wife, the waitstaff will speak to her first or even say, “What will he be having?” Avoid this at all costs. My school was very on top of this, and I was always included in the classroom discussions, just like everyone else. Same goes with calling students inspirational — this is borderline objectification. People with disabilities don’t exist to make others feel more inspired.

    Have a growth mindset

    The goal of learning and assessment is based on knowledge and skills, not physical ability.

    All students need to know that they have the ability to learn new skills — just as though they’re learning a musical instrument. A growth mindset is their ticket to becoming an adaptable and teachable individual, ready to explore the world.

    It also helps if you encourage a passion for long term goals.

    Click here to read the full article on ABC.

    Dyslexia: The learning disability that is overlooked

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    child with dyslexia, Joey Harrington, 13, sits with his computer at his home in New Paltz.

    By Helu Wang, Yahoo! Sports

    By the time Joey Harrington was in kindergarten, his mother, Kathy, realized that he was struggling with reading and writing. While his teacher at Wallkill Central School District said he would outgrow it, his reading scores kept going down. He was not identified as a child with special needs until five years later.

    “I got so frustrated. I knew something was wrong,” Harrington recalled of the troubled journey that her family has gone through.

    Even though Joey continued falling behind in reading and experiencing meltdowns, the school never evaluated him further, said Harrington. After the family had paid $2,600 for a private psychological evaluation, the district finally identified him as a special needs student when he was in fifth grade. The results showed he has dyslexia with language and learning disorders.

    Many families across the region shared similar experiences: children showed signs of reading delay as early as in kindergarten, but they are not identified as special needs students until several years later.

    Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities in the country, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. It is a learning disorder that involves difficulty in reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. The organization estimates about one in five children have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

    Dawn Prati of Wallkill, a pediatric nurse practitioner who has helped families navigate the process, said one of the biggest challenges they face is children not being identified early. Many children with dyslexia do not benefit from typical reading support programs that are offered by schools, she said.

    “Some people say you cannot diagnose dyslexia until third grade, which is not true. There are indicators before that,” said Prati. “The problem is that there is a period when the brain develops in kids when they are in kindergarten and they are attaining those building blocks. It’s super important to give them what they need to learn.”

    Learning disability overlooked
    Janice Vincenzo had trusted the school would do the best for her daughter until she found her then tenth-grader reading at a first-grade level. Her daughter had been identified as a student with special needs at third grade and was offered accommodations, including being assigned to a smaller learning group and offered extensions for testing, Vincenzo said, however, the accommodations covered up her daughter’s actual needs. In 2019, more than a year after Vincenzo requested her daughter to be evaluated, the Wallkill School District finally paid for a private evaluation.

    “I didn’t realize it for many years that the accommodations they gave her in effort to help her succeed never allowed them to pinpoint what her diagnosis was,” said Vincenzo.

    Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Sports.

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