Inclusion Heroes 2020-2021

Aileen Wall, Principal, Walnut Elementary School

Mrs. Wall has a big heart. She makes sure that all students and staff members have a sense of belonging on the Walnut campus. Her role as a principal exceeds the job duties assigned, and she truly creates a sense of family amongst the whole school community. Her positive attitude makes a great impact on the whole Walnut team, supporting staff in their roles and leading all students on a path of academic success each and every day. She leads inclusion by example, she is very generous of her time and shares her expertise to support the success of all she encounters. The Walnut community, and beyond, looks up to her, as a shining example of how to lead with kindness and respect for all. 

Jacqueline Bennett, Para Educator I, Madrona Elementary

Ms. Bennett  is a bright light for all who work with her. An invaluable member of the LEAP program, her kind sweet spirit brings a smile to the students’ faces every day. Her passion for her role and the love she has for the children she serves is undeniable. Working with her makes everyone a better person! Ms. Bennett is always the first person on the playground to bring all the kids together so no one is feeling left out.   She engages with students in such an enthusiastic way that they all feel important and inclusive of each other regardless of their ability.  The encouragement she gives is easily picked up by all of the kids and they continue to encourage each other both in class and on the playground.  Jackie is known for her kindness, positivity, and cheerful demeanor who students and staff members can count on! She truly makes a positive impact on the Madrona Elementary campus. 

Sandra Martinez-Galvan, Teacher, Thousand Oaks High School

Mrs. Martinez-Galvan is know for the positive impact she makes on the Thousand Oaks High School campusI She is an advocate for more inclusivity and representation of Latino Students and marginalized students on the TOHS campus. She has worked tirelessly to help give students a voice. Her commitment to providing opportunities to students is seen with her involvement in Latino Connection and Latino Youth Leadership. These clubs provide a safe space for students to connect, share their passions, feel proud about their heritage and grow as leaders. Everything she does is for her students and for the community. Even outside of the classroom she is involved with Adelante  and providing for families during these unprecedented times. 

Sairey Andrews, Teacher, Maple Elementary

Mrs. Andrews is all about inclusion. She is kind, warm and caring to her students and to her colleagues She is extremely tech savvy and always comes up with the greatest programs for Maple students. She gives so much of her time and her heart each and every day. Maple students benefit so much from having Mrs. Andrews as their teacher, a true leader and voice for all students. 

Jericho Delaney Ross, Teacher, Sycamore Canyon

Ms. Delaney is a force of support for the students she serves. Over  the last nine months she has gone above and beyond to make students feel safe and special. She is very determined and passionate to include everyone no matter what their disability might be. Ms. Delaney responds to all her emails and messages promptly and makes parents/guardians feel very comfortable to approach her regarding any questions or concerns they may have. She works tirelessly to spread kindness and make all students she encounters feel as though they belong.

Conejo Valley Unified School District's Commitment to Inclusion

The Conejo Valley Unified School District recognizes each child is unique and when differences are celebrated, a community of inclusivity, kindness, and respect results, which enhances the learning for all.

CVUSD's commitment to inclusion is ongoing through the implementation of Universal Design for Learning, Co-Teaching, and the utilization of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support which, together, provide access to the general education curriculum for all students.

Universal Design for Learning in CVUSD

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an instructional mindset that acknowledges the variability of all learners and seeks to remove barriers to learning by providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and action expression. UDL strengthens the universal instruction provided to all students by intentionally designing a learning environment to be more accessible and inclusive for diverse student learners.

UDL was introduced to all CVUSD teachers during a full day of professional learning in August 2019. This kickoff event featured a keynote address by renowned author and practitioner Dr. Katie Novak. This training was followed up in November 2019 when all teachers worked collaboratively to determine barriers to student learning and then apply the UDL Guidelines as grade-level or content area departments. Continued training was provided throughout the school year through additional teacher collaboration, principal-led training, and through "UDL Learning Walks", in which teams of educators observed their colleagues' classrooms to identify and discuss the applications of UDL. During the 2019-2020 school year, specific resources have been provided to teachers that supports the implementation of UDL in the remote/virtual learning environment. 

At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, staff underwent professional learning that emphasized how to provide access to curriculum to all students in the remote environment. The district purchased licenses for Kami, an extension that allows students and staff to annotate on top of text and provides speech to text, Screencast-O-Matic, which allows teachers to record directions for their students, and EdPuzzle, which allows teachers to embed questions into videos. These extensions and websites are some examples utilized to break down barriers to learning and create a path to inclusion for all students.

Co-Teaching in CVUSD

Co-teaching is an inclusive instructional strategy in which two teachers, a general education teacher and special education teacher, partner to create a cohesive curriculum in which they co-plan, co-teach, and co-assess to provide access to the subject for ALL students. Co-teaching provides students with and without disabilities the opportunity to interact with and learn from both teachers and all students while gaining access to the curriculum in a more Universally Designed manner.

CVUSD offers various co-teaching classes in English, Social Studies, Science, and Math for grades 6 through 12.  Students with IEPs may access their Specialized Academic Instruction services in a co-taught class based on the IEP.

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), MTSS is  a “comprehensive continuum of evidence-based, systemic practices to support a rapid response to students’ needs, with regular observation to facilitate data-based instructional decision making.” 

CVUSD utilizes a Multiā€Tiered System of Support (MTSS) - According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), MTSS is  a “comprehensive continuum of evidence-based, systemic practices to support a rapid response to students’ needs, with regular observation to facilitate data-based instructional decision making.” 

In CVUSD, the MTSS process embraces inclusion and diversity while providing the supports that students need. MTSS is a collaborative problem-solving process used to identify concerns, develop interventions, and evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention in a multi-tiered system of service delivery.

Tier 1 consists of Universal Support that is provided to ALL students in general education. It is high-quality core instruction that embeds Universal Design for Learning (UDL) strategies to help learners access grade-level academic expectations and includes social emotional and behavioral supports. Tier 1 generally can meet the needs of about 80% of students.

Tier 2 consists of Targeted/Strategic Interventions. These are provided to SOME students in general education in addition to supports in Tier 1. Tier 2 interventions generally provide support for about 15% of students and are data-driven and designed to be targeted and temporary so that once students do not need them, they can exit.

Tier 3 consists of Intensive/Individualized Interventions. Typically, it is necessary for very FEW students, approximately 5-10%. The intention of Tier 3 is to provide more frequent and intensive intervention and accelerate students’ progress so they can succeed in the core instructional program (Tier 1).


Inclusive Activities around the District

The Aspen 3rd grade holds a Wander and Wonder on Wednesdays where the last 40 minutes of each cohort is run by one of the 3rd grade teachers on Zoom (for both in-person and remote students) teaching, exploring, and discovering something of interest.  

  • Optical Illusions

  • Game show history and learning how to play Kahoot!

  • A history of cartooning

  • Slime in the International space station and experimenting with slime 

  • History of origami and making some folded animals


At Madrona, Mrs. Nash Wynner and Mrs. Denton team up to focus on building friendships and working together. In the past, they have done cooking together, art projects, and even had special guests. Together, these two classes are also learning all about ASL. They have worked on signing their names, colors, and letters. They learn other fun words like food and feelings, too! 


Sparkles Inclusive Cheerleading

The Sparkle Effect was started by 2 high school students in Iowa in 2008.  In 2020, they made the decision to change their name to ‘Generation Spirit’ to match the power and the passion behind what has truly become a nationwide movement for inclusion!  Today there are over 225 teams in 31 states, involving over 20,000 students.  

Here in the Conejo we have 3 clubs at each of our high schools, run by spirit cheerleaders!

Students with and without disabilities cheer together at football and basketball games routinely, and have also cheered on our teams playing baseball and softball!  We participate in school rallies, ability awareness events, and attended the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in 2015, along with numerous other events.

We are not about perfection!  We are about positive interaction between all students, respect of each other, and forming friendships.  The impact they have had at each of our high schools has been overwhelming.

Conejo Valley Unified School District is proud to have Debbie Hanna as the Sponsor of our Sparkles program!

For more information in the Sparkles program, please contact Debbie Hanna.

Unified Sports

Conejo Unified Valley School District is proud to have Unified Sports teams at Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, and Westlake High Schools and Colina and Redwood Middle Schools. The Unified Teams are comprised of approximately half Athletes (students with intellectual disabilities), and half Unified Partners (students without intellectual disabilities). Each school has developed a unique model of stewardship for their Unified Sports Leagues – with a variety of district staff, from a ceramics teacher, Varsity Basketball coach, history teacher, social studies teachers, and English teacher, in addition to Special Education teachers and Adapted Physical Education teachers, lending support to the teams. Each school site also has a variety of participants in the games – including students from Sparkles, ASL club, ASG, Band, Dance, and Sports Medicine.

The community is invited to cheer on students, and support this program by attending future games.

In addition, the schools apply to be formally recognized as Unified Champion Schools. Each Unified Champion School receives up to $3,000 in grant monies from the Special Olympics to help cover costs associated with the program, such as uniforms, travel, and equipment.

“Sports and physical education are a perfect way to develop social bonds between students with disabilities and without that will hopefully transcend past their time in high school,” - Samantha Stewart, CVUSD Adapted Physical Education Teacher.

Young Athletes Program

The Young Athletes Program – TK-2: Special Olympics Young Athletes is a sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities(ID), ages 2 to 7 years old. YoungAthletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing. Young Athletes offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children.

Unified Juniors – 3- 6: Unified Juniors is for students, grades 3-6, with and without intellectual disabilities. Students will gain knowledge of Special Olympics and an introduction to competitive sports in a fun, non-intimidating manner, while breaking down barriers at an early age through the Play Unified movement.

Unified Juniors – 3- 6: Unified Juniors is for students, grades 3-6, with and without intellectual disabilities. Students will gain knowledge of Special Olympics and an introduction to competitive sports in a fun, non-intimidating manner, while

breaking down barriers at an early age through the Play Unified movement.

Current schools that use the Young Athletes Program are

  • Acacia Elementary
  • Aspen Elementary
  • Be Me Preschool
  • Madrona Elementary
  • Maple Elementary
  • Wonder Elementary

Social Clubs

The Special Education department would like to invite students with IEPs to participate in virtual Social Clubs hosted by the Behavior Intervention Specialists (BCBAs). These clubs are designed to offer opportunities for students to interact with their peers, foster social connections, participate in virtual games and have fun. The Social Club will take place weekly from 3:15-3:45pm.

Please click on the links below to view the S'more with dates and themes. 

Lower Elementary Social Club: Grade TK-2


Upper Elementary Social Club: Grades 3-5


Middle and High School Social Club: Grades 6-Post Secondary