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Mod Squad: Intervention Specialists Inspire Patriot Learners to Overcome Learning Challenges

April 01, 2024
By Archbishop Carroll High School

After four years of rigorous academic work, an Archbishop Carroll High School Diploma represents mastery at the end of a student’s high school career. For some students, earning that diploma comes with additional challenges beyond the coursework itself. This is where the intervention specialists assist students with diverse learning needs to make walking across the stage at graduation an achievable goal.

The four intervention specialists, lovingly referred to as the “MOD Squad” for the group’s location in a modular building, each handle a caseload of 12-16 students who need assistance in various ways. Each of these students has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which is a legal document that affords students the opportunity to receive specially designed instruction. This is developed through collaboration with the students’ parents/guardians, classroom teachers, related services, and the home school district. This document ensures the students receive the academic, emotional, and/or behavioral support they need to succeed.

With the help of scholarships such as the Jon Peterson Scholarship, intervention specialist Stephanie (Pugar) Sagasser ‘08 has seen programming and funding greatly increase in the private school system and at Carroll. “I grew up in Catholic schools, and intervention programs have grown so much since that time,” she said. “It’s great to see students who learn differently have an opportunity to have their needs met within a Catholic school setting.”

Sagasser knew she always wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn’t until her first placement as a University of Dayton student teacher that she realized that working with students with special needs was where she was called to serve. “I fell in love with it,” she recalled. Since that first placement, she has had an opportunity to work with students of varying ability in K-12 classroom settings. From students who need full individualized instruction to those who have met their goals and need minimal support, Sagasser has worked with a wide variety of students, each with different, individual needs. Along with Ben Swick, Allison Ford, and Emily Fogus, Carroll’s other intervention specialists, Sagasser tackles busy days filled with different challenges and circumstances.

Intervention Specialist Stephanie (Pugar) Sagasser '08

They work with small groups of students in the modular unit that provides a safe space to care for students and further assist them with their studies. The team not only checks in with students on their caseload, but they collaborate with the general education teachers in the building and work with them in many different ways. The IEP and 504 paperwork is created, reviewed, and documented by the four intervention specialists. Some students are in a general education classroom that is co-taught by a general education teacher and an intervention specialist in order to provide daily assistance in a mainstream classroom. Days are so busy that lunchtime is often used for department check-ins and teacher collaboration.

Like general education teachers, the intervention specialists prepare their students for life after high school. The intervention team works not only to reinforce the students’ curriculum and classroom lessons, but they also teach the students to advocate for themselves.

“When students leave high school, they need to be able to advocate for what they need since an IEP does not follow them after they graduate,” explains Sagasser. In addition to self advocacy, the intervention specialists focus on teaching their students independent living skills including organization, time management, and personal finance, just to name a few. While some students will remain on an IEP for their entire high school career, many no longer need specially designed instruction before graduation, moments that the MOD Squad celebrates with the student and the team. At that final meeting, the student and team look back on the progress from the student’s academic career and celebrate how far that student has come to get to this point. Sagasser shared how “intensely gratifying” that meeting is for all involved.  “To be able to sit in a meeting and only focus on the positive is refreshing and rewarding.”

The biggest reward for Sagasser has been to watch those students she has worked with for their entire high school career shake hands with Principal Matt Sableski ‘91 at graduation and receive their Archbishop Carroll High School diploma.

“Some students have had a challenging road,” she recalls, “It’s academically difficult, and they made it.”

Now, with a Carroll diploma in hand, students who once had to overcome various challenges are now making a difference and finding success. Sagasser keeps in touch with former students who fill her in on all of their achievements as adults in the career world, and that is a motivation for Sagasser and the MOD Squad. “(They’re) out in the world doing so well, and it’s so good to see that.”

Posted in Voices of Learning
Heidi says:
April 06, 2024 10:47 AM CST
I remember when an awesome classmate named the trailer the mod thankful for what I received from was one intervention specialist and a few guidance counselors..and also my own teachers helping me as well..a kind word, after school help, and more

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