About the Consultant

Beth Steenwyk

Based on her extensive resume and expertise in special education, Kent ISD hired Beth A. Steenwyk, on behalf of it's local districts, to conduct a formal, unbiased review of all Center-based Special Education Programs within Kent ISD.

With a background as a teacher who began her career at Lincoln Developmental Center, then working with state agencies and local districts, and recent experience helping the education department in the states of Wyoming, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Vermont, Ms. Steenwyk has the expertise and experience to conduct the review and make well-considered recommendations. She served as Executive Director of State Projects for Michigan’s Integrated Improvement Initiatives within the Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services for the Michigan Department of Education.  She also served as Deputy Director of the Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services for the Michigan Department of Education.  

Review her full resume in the sections below.

Professional Experience

2012-Current

Independent Contractor in Large Scale Educational Initiatives Design and Implementation

In previous professional positions I have provided consultation, training, technical assistance, and facilitation supports to public education agencies and organizations in the area of designing and implementing large scale initiatives to address data-driven needs in the areas of school improvement, targeted priorities and compliance challenges. This has included work with many Local and Intermediate School Districts, professional organizations, and multiple offices and departments within the Michigan Department of Education (e.g. Office of Special Education, Office Early Childhood and Family Services, Coordinated School Health, Office of Field Services, Office of Innovation and Improvement, School Reform Office and State-wide System of Support).

As an independent contractor, I provide similar services with a focus on customizing professional development and technical assistance to build capacity within organizations, and to provide systemic planning and design supports to create new or sustain existing or re-designed initiatives. I have participated in numerous Special Education onsite-monitoring visits as well as consulted on corrective action plans for a number of agencies.  These experiences have expanded my knowledge and understanding of systemic issues and how to address complex and often previously intractable challenges.  I have worked with the Wyoming State Department of Education, Michigan Department of Education, Vermont State Department of Education, Iowa Department of Education, the New Hampshire Departments of Education, the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services and a Federally funded General Supervision Grant to University of Kentucky.  Initiatives across these agencies have included, but are not limited to:

  • Statewide Response to Intervention and Multi-tiered System of Support,
  • Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports (PBIS),
  • Frameworks for Implementing High Quality Specially Designed Instruction for Students with Disabilities,
  • Systems of General Supervision,
  • Alternate Assessment,
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems, and
  • Statewide & County-based Secondary Transition Programs for Students with Disabilities. 

My most recent contracts have also provided consultation & technical assistance around fiscal management systems, assisting in the design of school reform systems and designing and supporting improved instructional supports across educational systems.

This array of experiences related to the implementation of large-scale initiatives across multiple settings has afforded me the opportunity to apply the basic tenants of effective implementation practices to real life situations.  The practical application of the findings of a meta-analysis conducted in 2005 by Fixsen et al has significantly informed work around designing and implementing large scale initiatives, large scale corrective actions for systemic challenges in the realms of General Education, Special Education, Vocational Rehabilitation and Health and Human Services and has also provided critical information to build the necessary supportive infrastructures and leadership capacities to support long term sustainable change.

2007-2012

Executive Director of State Projects, Michigan’s Integrated Improvement Initiatives (MI3)
Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services, Michigan Department of Education

In this position I designed and implemented an integrated system, and provided oversight, for thirteen IDEA-funded state improvement initiatives.  This included responsibility for implementation and scale-up of the State Personnel Development Grant: Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative – MiBLSi (a statewide Response to Intervention /Multi-Tiered System of Support initiative). Key to these initiatives was the application of the work of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) and the State Scaling Up of Evidence Based Practices (SISEP).  During this time I was appointed as one of four State Transformation Specialists for collaborative work between SISEP and the Michigan Department of Education.

2002-2007

Deputy Director, Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services,
Michigan Department of Education

This position had 3 primary areas of responsibility:

  1. Administrative oversight for all program areas of the Office, including: state and federal finance; policy, compliance and procedural safeguards; monitoring and quality assurance; program and personnel development, and interagency collaboration. I directly supervised 4 program area managers within the Office.
  2. State lead for Michigan’s secondary transition initiative. Due to the complex nature of this initiative I developed a collaborative core planning team structure of 12 diverse stakeholders to assist in the lead responsibilities for the state’s secondary transition and high school reform initiative for students with exceptional learning needs.
  3. Chief administrator for the Michigan Schools for the Deaf and Blind. In this role I had overall responsibility for 90 FTE (civil service) and more than 30 contract staff. In addition, in my role as chief administrator at the state schools, I was responsible for over 160 day and residential students.

Leadership Highlights

I have provided leadership and guidance for the following initiatives in Michigan:

  • Michigan Transition Outcomes Project
    • Comprehensive Personnel Development and Technical Assistance System for Secondary Transition
    • Integration with State High School Reform Initiative
    • Integration of key performance indicators of secondary transition within Continuous Improvement Monitoring System
    • Multi-factored data-based evaluation and reporting on key transition requirements
  • Michigan School for the Deaf Comprehensive Redesign and School Improvement
  • Statewide Parent Support System Redesign
  • Educational Interpreters for the Deaf-Standards for Assessment, Training and Qualifications
  • Multi-State Collaborative on Deaf Education Issues
  • Statewide IDEA Leadership Institute
  • Comprehensive redesign of due process system;
    • Single tier magistrate due process hearing system
    • Integrated dispute resolution and complaint system
    • Targeted compliance agreement plans
  • Leadership team member-Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative (MiBLSi, Michigan’s Response to Intervention Initiative)
  • Redesign of Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource (MATR) to Michigan’s Integrated Technology Supports (MITS)
  • Participation in the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) RtI Blueprint development team
  • Consultation and participation in the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Blind/Low Vision and Deaf/Blind Professional Development national outreach program.

2000-2003

Director of Special Education
Eastern Service Area, Kalamazoo County, MI

The primary function of this position was the planning, directing, administration and oversight of special education programs and services for five (5) school districts (Climax-Scotts, Comstock, Galesburg-Augusta, Gull Lake and Parchment), located in the Eastern Service Area of Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Area (K/RESA). This included directing activities of 120 program staff within these school districts, immediate supervision of seven central office staff, and coordination with five superintendent and central office structures.

1999-2000

Supervisor of Special Education
Gull Lake Community Schools, Richland, MI 

The primary function of this position was the planning, directing, administration and oversight of special education programs and services for Gull Lake Community Schools.

1989-1999

Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency, Kalamazoo, MI

  • 1996-99—Transition Specialist for the Intermediate Educational Agency (K/RESA) and Vocational Rehabilitation Services (MDCD-RS).  This was a blended staff position across two agencies and was the first of its kind in the state of Michigan. This model of service delivery won a national promising practice award from the National Transition Alliance in 1998.
  • 1994-1996—Work Services Team Leader—responsible for the leadership of a self-directed team to deliver community based work programs using the tenants of Total Quality Management and Collaborative Teaming.
  • 1989-1994—Work Experience Coordinator—developed, implemented and administered a community based work and employability skills program for adolescents and young adults with disabilities.

1982-1988

Special Education Teacher
Christian Learning Center, Grand Rapids, MI

  • 1985-1988—Adult Daily Living Skills and Community Based Instructor
  • 1982-1985—Classroom Teacher for Cognitively Impaired students age 7-14
  • Adapted Physical Education Instructor for entire program

1979-1982

Special Education Provider
Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids, MI

  • Motor Development Specialist—Lincoln Developmental Center for Severely Impaired
  • Field Service coordinator—Michigan State University Demonstration Site for the I CAN Adapted Physical Education curriculum.

Education

Masters Degree in Special Education Administration and Supervision

Grand Valley State University - 1996-1999 - Grand Rapids, MI

Early Childhood Specialist Program-Permanent Teaching Certificate

Western Michigan University - 1982-1985 - Grand Rapids, MI

Bachelor of Science Degree-Dual Major program in Special Education and Physical Education

Calvin College - 1974-1979 - Grand Rapids, MI

Certifications & Approvals

  • Michigan Continuing Teacher Certification-Elementary Level
    • K-8 All subjects
    • K-9 Physical Education
    • K-9 Social Sciences
    • K-12 Mentally Impaired
    • K-12 Physically or Otherwise Health Impaired
    • PreK-K Early Childhood Education
  • Full Approval: Supervisor of Special Education-Michigan
  • Full Approval: Director of Special Education-Michigan

Professional Memberships & Activities

Memberships

  • Council for Exceptional Children-CEC
  • The Association of Severe Handicaps-TASH
  • Michigan Association of Persons in Supported Employment-MI-APSE
  • Michigan Transition Services Association-MTSA
  • Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education-MAASE
  • Board member of the Michigan Association of Persons in Supported Employment  (MI-APSE)
  • Fellow in the Michigan Education Policy Fellowship Program

Activities

Invited presenter at the following state and national conferences, agencies, and colleges:

  • Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
  • National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE)
  • American Evaluation Association National Conference
  • Calvin College
  • Council for Exceptional Children-Division of Career Development and Transition-National Conference
  • Division on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Development
  • Idaho Department of Education Summer Institute
  • New Hampshire Department of Education & Department of Mental Health
  • Vermont Agency of Education
  • Wyoming Department of Education
  • University of Kentucky
  • Institute for Educational Leadership, Washington Policy Seminar
  • Kalamazoo County Local and ISD Boards of Education
  • Local Directors Association of Michigan
  • Michigan APSE
  • Michigan Association for Children’s Mental Health
  • Michigan Association Learning Disability Educators
  • Michigan Council for Exceptional Children State Conferences
  • Michigan Department of Career Development-Transition Sharing Day
  • Michigan Rehabilitation Conference
  • Michigan School for the Deaf
  • Michigan Supervisors of Public School Programs for the Hearing Impaired
  • Michigan Transition Services Association
  • Numerous Service Organizations such as Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.
  • Special Education Advisory Committee
  • State Interagency Coordinating Council
  • TASH-The Association of Severe Handicaps
  • Western Michigan University
  • Williams Syndrome Association National Conferences
  • Williams Syndrome Association Music Conference

Previous private consultation and training on Secondary Transition in Special Education:

  • Families, Parent Organizations and Advocacy groups
  • Local and Intermediate School Districts
  • Williams Syndrome Association

Awards & Publications

Awards

  • Recipient of the National Transition Alliance 1998 National Promising Practice Award
  • Recipient of the Kalamazoo County Excellence in Education Award

Publications

  • 1999 “Emerging Futures—A Transition Manual for Parents and Students.”
  • 2007 Invited consultant for the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE)’s State Education Agency Blueprints for RtI, published in 2011