Jennifer Sommerness

jennifer sommerness

Professional Mission
My professional mission is to promote the inclusive education of each and every student within general education settings and contexts, including students with the most extensive support needs, through development of supportive instructional design, effective team collaboration, and
enhanced teacher capacity.

This will promote individuals to be successfully engaged, challenged and respected throughout their various learning and community settings and schools, increasing positive adult outcomes and independence throughout their lives.

EDUCATION
Ed.S. Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota, January, 2011.
MA Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota, June, 2004.
BS Special Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, December, 1992.

LICENSURE/CERTIFICATES
Professional Staff Development Post Baccalaureate Certificate, University of Minnesota, Educational Policy and Administration, November, 2010.

Teacher Certificate (PK-12th grade, Cognitive Disabilities) Previously licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and New Mexico.


PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
Learning Forward
TASH
ASCD
National Down Syndrome Congress

TIES Center
NCEO (National Center on Educational Outcomes)
Arc of Greater Twin Cities/Arc of Minnesota
Council for Exceptional Children
Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota/National Down Syndrome Association
Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance

PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYMENT and ACTIVITIES
University of Minnesota, Research Associate, TIES Center at the Institute on Community Integration, College of Education and Human Development. Conduct research on issues related to the instruction and assessment of students with significant cognitive disabilities.

TIES Center is the National Technical Assistance Center on inclusion and disability policy. The purpose of the TIES Center is to create sustainable changes in school and district educational systems so the students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional activities as their general education peers while being instructed in a way that meets their individual learning needs. January 2021 to present.

Welcome Spoken HereTM, Owner and Independent Educational Consultant. Provide consultation, Independent Educational Evaluations, professional development, technical assistance and job-embedded instructional coaching to increase inclusive educational opportunities for students with significant disabilities. Consultation spans individual student, instructional team, school and district-wide level strategies and systems change initiatives. Nationwide consultations as well as concentrated influence within/across the state of Minnesota. May 2004 to present.

TIES Center, Consultant, Contracted for technical assistance content and product development, collaboration with researchers, and present at professional development events (conferences, webinars and meetings).

Member of Distance Learning Series Leadership Team. October, 2019 to present.

Kids Included Together, Executive Director, Inclusive Schools Division. Executive leadership position, responsible for business strategy, budgetary development, curriculum planning and production, and execution of services for K-12 online, in-person and job-embedded disability inclusion and behavioral support professional development nationwide.

Supervised staff in relation to specific project activities and curriculum development. (May, 2018 – June, 2019).


University of St. Thomas, Adjunct Professor. Department of Teacher Education. Teaching Masters level methods courses of university students seeking teacher licensure; supervision of Masters level clinical practice. January, 2017 – June, 2019.
Expert Witness, Meyers and Flowers, LLC, 3 North Second St. Suite 300, St. Charles, IL 60174.

Review educational records, medical records, depositions and other pertinent documentation and give expert opinion regarding the instructional planning, educational opportunities, individual student support needs, and professional development recommendations. August 2019-present.

Minnesota State Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP). Served two, Governor appointed terms. August, 2011- August 2015. Vice Chairperson 2013-2014; Chairperson 2014-2015.

Second term served August, 2017 to August, 2020.

Co-teacher (Spring 2007), University of Minnesota: 5387 Administration of Teaching and Learning; J. York-Barr, professor.

Teaching Assistant (Spring 2000), University of Minnesota: 5384 Collaboration in
Heterogeneous Schools; J. York-Barr, professor.

Research Assistant (1998-2003), University of Minnesota; for following grant: York-Barr, J., & Ghere, G. (1998-2003). A systems approach to paraprofessional development and support.

Awarded by U.S. Department of Education.
Special Education Teacher (7/97-6/98), Albuquerque Public Schools, NM. McKinley Junior High School; students with emotional, behavioral, learning and mild to moderate cognitive disabilities. Created and supported inclusive general education settings for all students on caseload.

Special Education Teacher (10/96-6/97), Albuquerque Public Schools, NM. Harrison Middle School; students with emotional, behavioral, learning and mild to moderate cognitive disabilities.

Created and supported inclusive general education settings for all students on caseload.

Educational Consultant for Project CHOICES/Early CHOICES (1/95-9/96), a federal grant through the Illinois State Board of Education. Member of one of four state-wide teams providing technical assistance and professional development to over 200 public schools and districts. Focus of work was planning, implementing and creating systems change around inclusive practices for students with disabilities within general education classes and settings. Many state-wide, district-
wide and local school presentations, conferences and professional development given to teacher teams.

Vocational Coach (7/94-12/94), Partnership Resources, Inc., Minneapolis, MN. Supported adults with disabilities in various vocational settings.

Special Education Teacher (9/93-6/94), College Community School District, Cedar Rapids, IA. Prairie High School, students with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities in inclusive vocational, community, and general education settings.

Special Education Teacher (1/93-6/93), Madison Metropolitan School District, WI. La Follette High School, students with severe to profound cognitive and physical disabilities in inclusive vocational, community and general education settings.

Special Education Substitute Teacher (9/98-6/99). Hopkins School District, MN. Served as a long-term sub for half a year, and a rotating substitute within one building the other half of the year.

Community and Vocational Coach (6/92-9/92), United Developmental Achievement Center, Duluth, MN. Supported adults with cognitive disabilities and mental illness in various community and vocational settings.

PUBLICATIONS
Online Sommerness, J. (2020). A collaborative start to behavioral supports (DL #2). TIES Center.

Sommerness, J. (2020). Reflections about individualizing supports for children and families:
Olivia’s story (DL #5). TIES Center.

Ghere, G., Sommerness, J., & Vandercook, T. (2020). Planning for instruction both at school and distance learning: The 5C Process (DL #17). TIES Center.

Ghere, G., Sommerness, J., & Reyes, E. (2020). Pivoting between Paraprofessional Support in Inclusive Schools and Distance Learning. TIES Center.

Online Learning Center for Kids Included Together, IACET standard-based, best in class online webinars, eLearning online courses and job-embedded curriculum.
Personal website and educational blog, with an online presence since November, 2010.

www.jennifersommerness.com
Guest blogger for Peter Block and John McKnight’s Abundant Community website, from March-June, 2011. www.abundantcommunity.com

Journal Articles (refereed)
York-Barr, J., Ghere, G.S., & Sommerness, J. (2007). Collaborative teaching to increase ELL student learning. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 12(3), 301-335.

York-Barr, J., Sommerness, J., Ghere, G., & Duke, K. (2005). Special educators in inclusive education programmes: Reframing their work as teacher leadership.

International Journal of Inclusive Education, 9(2), 193-215.
Manuscripts in Review or Revision York-Barr, J., Sommerness, J., & Ghere, G.S. (in review). Teachers as leaders in inclusive schooling: Three exemplary cases. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership.

Book Chapter
York-Barr, J., Sommerness, J., Hur, J. (2008). Teacher leadership: Leading from the
middle…learning side-by-side. In Good, T. (2008). 21st Century Education: A Reference Handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Professional Development Curricula
York-Barr, J., Sommerness, J., & Ghere, G. (2005). Teachers as leaders of inclusive schooling: What, why and how. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, National Institute on Leadership for Disability and Students Placed at Risk. [peer reviewed]
Ghere, G.S., York-Barr, J., & Sommerness, J. (2002).

Job-embedded paraprofessional development: A curriculum guide for special educators. Minneapolis, MN: Institute on Community Integration. Includes the following components:

Facilitator Manual
Unit 1: What is inclusive education?
Unit 2: What to teach: Learning opportunities for students
Unit 3: How to instruct: Prompt, wait, fade
Unit 4: How to instruct: Natural cues, consequences, and supports
Unit 5: How to instruct: Individualized adaptations
Unit 6: How to interact: Behavior as communication
Unit 7: How to interact: Student relationships
Newsletters and Newsletter Articles
Sommerness, J., Ghere, G. (2019). Paraprofessional roles and layers of
instruction. IMPACT. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, p. 39-41.

York-Barr, J., Ghere, G., & Sommerness, J. (2003). Special educators as teacher leaders in inclusive settings. In T. Vandercook, J. York-Barr, & V. Gaylord (Eds.), IMPACT: Feature issue on revisiting inclusive education. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, p. 16.
York-Barr, J, Ghere, G., & Sommerness, J. (2003). What’s working and what’s not for your team? In T. Vandercook, J. York-Barr, & V. Gaylord (Eds.), IMPACT: Feature issue on revisiting inclusive education. University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, p. 14-15.

Reports and Evaluations
York-Barr, J., Sommerness, J., Duke, K., & Ghere, G. (March 2000). Special educator roles and responsibilities in inclusive settings: Findings and recommendations from an expert focus group.

Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration.

PRESENTATIONS AND WORKSHOPS
Vandercook, T., Ghere, G., Taub, D., & Sommerness, J. (November, 2020). Strategies for Successful Delivery of Hybrid Education. Ocaliconline 2020 Virtual Conference.
Ghere, G., Sommerness, J. (November, 2020). Pivoting Between Paraprofessional Support in Inclusive Schools and Distance Learning. National Down Syndrome Congress Webinar.

Taub, D., Sommerness, J., Ghere, G., Vandercook, T., & Hartman, E. (August, 2020). Distance Learning, Online Learning and Students with Disabilities: How Do We Do It?. ASCD Back to School Virtual Conference.

Sommerness, J. (August, 2020). 5C Process: Instructional Planning for School and Distance Learning for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities in Inclusive Environments. Visions and Voices Facebook Live Event.

Taub, J., Ghere, G., Sommerness, J., Vandercook, T., & Hartman, E. (July, 2020). Distance Learning, Online Learning and Students with Disabilities: How Do We Do It?

ASCD Respond. Reimagine. Restart. Virtual Conference.
Ghere, G., Sommerness, J., & Vandercook, T. (July, 2020). 5C Process: Instructional Planning for School and Distance Learning for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities in Inclusive Environments.

SOARS Summer Institute Virtual Conference.
Sommerness, J. (March, 2019 – present). 4 Virtual Workshops with Job-Embedded Coaching Facilitation Sessions. Content focus: 5C Process; 5-15-45 Tool; Strength-based IEPs; Grading and Assessment; Person-Centered Planning; and Paraprofessional Roles and Responsibilities.
Northern Suburban Special Ed District, Highland Park, IL.
Sommerness, J. (October, 2018). Partners in Policymaking: Inclusive Education Session.
Possibilities in Inclusive Education – Including Historical Context. Bloomington, MN.
Sommerness, J. (July, 2019). What Success Looks Like. Wisconsin Department of Instruction
Inclusion Summit/Conference. Keynote presenter. Wausau, WI.
Sommerness, J. (June, 2019). Collaboration Tools Everyone Can Use. Transforming Care Experience Conference, Gillette Children’s Hospital, Family Voices MN, Minnesota Department of Health. Keynote presenter. St. Paul, MN.

Sommerness, J. (March, 2019). What Success Looks Like. EdTalk for Achieve Minneapolis.

Minneapolis, MN. https://youtu.be/k3nZimayJNk

Sommerness, J. (January, 2019). What Success Looks Like. Poway Public Schools Inclusive Education Conference. San Diego, CA.

Sommerness, J. (July, 2018). What Success Looks Like. iSummit Inclusive Leadership Conference, Elmbrook Public Schools. Featured Speaker. Elmbrook, WI.
Sommerness, J., Robinson, G. (December, 2017). What Success Looks Like.

International TASH Conference. Atlanta, GA.


Sommerness, J. (August, 2017). What Success Looks Like. Syracuse University Summer Leadership Institute. Featured Speaker. Syracuse, NY.

Sommerness, J. (April, 2017). What Success Looks Like. Brain Injury Alliance, MN.
Sommerness, J. (November, 2016). Why Special Ed Isn’t. Ignite Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN.
https://youtu.be/osRfWrUpzXs

Sommerness, J. (August – October, 2016). What Success Looks Like: Navigating the School System for People with Special Needs. 3-Part Series, for Bethlehem Lutheran Church Mental Health Ministries, Minneapolis, MN.

Sommerness, J. (September, 2015). Fosston Public Schools, Fosston, MN. Job-Embedded Paprofessional Development.

Sommerness, J. (September, 2015). Elk River Public Schools, Elk River, MN. Hawaii 504.

Sommerness, J. (August, 2015). Orono Public Schools, Orono, MN. Job-Embedded
Paraprofessional Development.

Sommerness, J. (November, 2014) Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, Educator’s Conference: Student-Centered Learning.

Sommerness, J. (December, 2013). Palo Alto Unified School District, Palo Alto, CA. Social Inclusion: Not Just a Seat in the Class.

Sommerness, J. (August, 2010). St. Paul Public Schools. Increasing Student Achievement: Collaboration and Differentiated Instruction Conference. Effective Collaboration with Paraprofessionals. Two, two-hour presentations for pre-K through 12th grade district-wide teachers. Topics included promoting collaboration between teachers and the paraprofessionals they direct the work of through improving efficiency and communication, as well as tools and strategies for use in general education classrooms and settings.

Sommerness, J. (December, 2009). St. Paul Public Schools, Early Childhood Programs. Towards More Inclusive Settings. Half-day presentation and training for paraprofessionals. Topics covered included legal aspects, data privacy, human respect and dignity, and inclusive practices.
Sommerness, J. (2006-2007). St. Paul Public Schools, Early Childhood Programs Professional

Development Series. Four half-day presentations for paraprofessionals, adapted from Job-
embedded paraprofessional development: A training curriculum for special educators. October,

2006 – Behavior as Communication; November, 2006 – Learning opportunities for students;
How to instruct? Wait, Prompt, Fades; March, 2007 – How to instruct? Natural cues,
Consequences, and Supports; April, 2007 – How to interact? Student relationships.
Sommerness, J. (2003). Job-embedded paraprofessional development: A training curriculum for
special educators. Presentation at the 2003 IL-TASH Let’s Reach Everyone Conference,
Naperville, IL. January 31, 2003.

Ghere, G. & Sommerness, J. (2003). Job-embedded paraprofessional development: A training
curriculum for special educators. Presentation for Madison Metropolitan School District,
Madison, WI. (March, 2003).
Ghere, G., York-Barr, J., & Sommerness, J. (2002). Job-embedded paraprofessional
development: A training curriculum for special educators. Presentation at the 2002 National
Staff Development Council (NSDC) Conference, Boston, MA. December 9, 2002.
Ghere, G., Sommerness, J., & York-Barr, J. (2002). Job-embedded paraprofessional
development: A
training curriculum for special educators. Presentation at the 2002 National Conference of the
Association for Persons with Severe Disabilities (TASH). December 12, 2002.
Freagon, S., Best, R., Sommerness, J., Peters, B. (1995). What do the movies have to say about
inclusion? Presentation at the 1995 National Conference of the Associations for Persons with Severe Disabilities (TASH), Chicago, IL.

Freagon, S., Best, R., Sommerness, J. (1996). What do the movies have to say about inclusion? Presentation at the 1996 National Conference of the Associations for Persons with Severe Disabilities (TASH), San Francisco, CA.

Sommerness, J. (2006). Job-embedded paraprofessional development: A training curriculum for special educators. Presentation for special education teachers at Valley Crossing Community School, Woodbury, MN. April, 2006.

Sommerness, J. (2006). Job-embedded paraprofessional development: A training curriculum for special educators. Presentation for special education teachers in Anoka Hennepin School District, Coon Rapids, MN. March, 2006.


CONSULTATIONS and COMMITTEES
Rockford Public Schools, Rockford, IL. (2020). Consultation with middle school team. Creatingan IEP focused on valued life outcomes of young man with most complex support needs.

Emphasis on instituting Every Move Counts curriculum, AAC device exploration and switch use.

DeKalb County School District, Atlanta, GA. (2018-2020). Consultation with elementary school team. Collaborating with and coaching team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, positive behavioral supports and alternative assessment.

Osseo Public Schools, Osseo MN. (2018-2019). IEE evaluation. Consultation with middle school team. Collaborating with and coaching team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, positive behavioral supports, and alternative assessment.

North St. Paul Public Schools, North St. Paul, MN. (presently consulting). IEE evaluation. Consultation with high school team. Collaborating with and coaching team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, positive behavioral supports, and alternative assessment.
Bloomington Public Schools, Bloomington, MN. (presently consulting). Consultation with elementary school team. Collaborating with and coaching team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, positive behavioral supports, and alternative assessment.

South Washington County, Woodbury, MN (presently consulting). Consultation with high school team. Collaborating with and coaching team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, positive behavioral supports, and alternative assessment.

Canon Falls Public Schools, Canon Falls, MN (presently consulting). Consultation with middle school. Collaborating with and coaching team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, positive behavioral supports, and alternative assessment.

Austin Public Schools, Austin, MN (presently consulting). Consultation with middle school. Collaborating with and coaching team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, re-evaluation, curricular adaptations, positive behavioral supports and alternative assessment.

Naperville Public Schools, Naperville, IL (presently consulting). Consultation primarily with middle school and district-wide professional development. Collaborating with and coaching team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, positive behavioral supports, and alternative assessment. Professionally developing paraprofessionals district-wide.

Orono Public Schools, Orono, MN (presently consulting). Consultation with district schools, primarily focused on high school and middle schools. Collaborating with and coaching teams to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, and alternative assessment. Specific work regarding systems change and implementation planning.

Mounds View Public Schools, Mounds View, MN (presently consulting). Consultation with district schools, primarily focused on middle school. Collaborating with and coaching teams to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, and alternative assessment. Specific work regarding systems change and implementation planning.


Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis, MN (presently consulting). Consultation with district schools, primarily focused on high school. Collaborating with and coaching teams to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, and alternative assessment.

Fosston Public Schools, Fosston, MN (presently consulting). Consultation with district schools, primarily focused on high school. Collaborating with and coaching teams to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, and alternative assessment.

White Bear Lake Public Schools, White Bear Lake, MN (presently consulting). IEE evaluation. Consultation with district schools, primarily focused on high school and middle schools.

Collaborating with and coaching teams to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, and alternative assessment.
White Bear Lake Public Schools, White Bear Lake, MN (presently consulting). Consultation with district schools, primarily focused on high school and middle schools. Collaborating with and coaching teams to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, and alternative assessment.

Saratoga Union School District, Saratoga, CA (presently consulting). Consultation with middle and elementary school teams including collaborating and coaching teams to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, and alternative assessment.


Palo Alto Unified School District, Palo Alto, CA. (presently consulting). Consultation around school-wide social relationship building with a focus on creating supportive relationships for students with disabilities.


Little Falls Public Schools, Little Falls, MN. (2016). Consultation with district schools, primarily focused on elementary school. Conducting IEE and collaborating with team to successfully support inclusive practices, including IEP development, curricular adaptations, and alternative assessment.

Minnetonka Public Schools, Minnetonka, MN. (2013). Consultation including IEP meeting attendance and consult.

Palo Alto Unified School District, Palo Alto, CA. (2012-2013). Consultation including IEP meeting attendance and consult.

Saratoga Unified School District, Saratoga, CA. (2012-2013). Consultation with parents about IEP.

Minneapolis Public Schools, MN. (2013). Consultation including review and revision of 504 plan.


Minneapolis Public Schools, MN. (2011-2013). Consultation including review and revision of 504 plan.


Minneapolis Public Schools, MN. Lake Harriet Community School (2006-2008). Educational Council Member.

Minneapolis Public Schools, MN. (2009) Consultation including observation and feedback regarding supporting of individual students in general education settings.
Minneapolis Public Schools, MN. (2009-2010). Consultation including IEP meeting attendance and consult.

Anoka-Hennepin Public Schools (2003-2008). Consultation, mediation and facilitation with professional development follow up to school staff to establish inclusive practices and supports to address a litigious situation within the district.

Saint Paul Public Schools, English Language Learner Department. (2006). Consultation

in the design and conduct of systems evaluation of collaborative ELL services (assisted J. York-
Barr with meetings, interviews and synthesis of data).

South Washington County Schools, Woodbury, MN (2008-2013). Consultation including IEP meeting attendance and consult.

South Washington County Schools, Woodbury, MN (2006). Consultation including IEP meeting attendance and consult.

SELECTED RESEARCH INTERESTS
-School and Community Inclusive Education
-Teacher Leadership
-School and Organizational Change
-Professional Development and Professional Learning Communities
-Differentiated Instruction
-Universal Design and Inclusive Curricular Design
-Collaboration and Co-teaching
-Paraprofessional Supervision in Inclusive Settings
-Positive Behavior Supports
-Transition