ELA Newsletter Week 15

ELA Newsletter Week 15

ELA Newsletter Week 15

Our Mission,

to empower students with learning disabilities and differences to recognize and
optimize their potential throughout their lives, has been at the forefront of my
mind over the past exciting and eventful twelve days.

I am excited to confirm I have accepted the position of Interim Director of Education here at Brehm. This is an opportunity that brings me such joy as I look at the trajectory of my life as an educator and my future goals as part of the Brehm family. There is a lot to do in the upcoming months and we have the best team for continuing to offer the individualized services that our students need and to prepare for a successful future for them and our program!

I started the process Thursday of explaining to the students what their English Language Arts, Literature, or Creative Writing Classes will look like moving forward. This was mostly to give them a general idea of who would be taking over the content teaching of their classes to help relieve some of their confusion and anxiety surrounding their schedules. I will be emailing each of you individually in the upcoming week to let you know who will be teaching their classes starting on January 4th.  I will be finishing out this month with them and get them through finals next week. It was sweet to see so many of them protest the fact that I couldn’t keep teaching them and do my new position (“You totally could do both, you’re just being lazy,” was my favorite!).

While this is an exciting time, I also know that it is a troubling time with so many changes that have already arisen in the past few months, and really since COVID, for our students, our staff, and our school community. Changes in leadership and staffing have resulted in a lot of growing pains


Teaching Junior High
Language Arts 1st hour.


Guiding the academic
portion of the Brehm
holistic model.


Working closely with
students, parents,
teachers, and all direct
service providers.

as we navigate similar issues seen in public education and other industries. While I don’t have all the answers, I do know this: the teachers and staff that are here are dedicated to the empowerment and success of your children and to the mission of our school. My charge in this new position will be to continue to cultivate the academic portion of the holistic model that Brehm has been known for for the past 40 years.

The hardest part of accepting this new position is my inability to continue with a full load of English Language Arts and Literature classes. Some of you may be worried about the impact of this transition in the middle of the school year and the changing of hands so to speak of your student’s reading and writing skill development. Please be assured that I am considering the implications of the changes and will match my students to the teachers that can deliver the instruction that the students in those classes need. Bradley and I began this process last week and made some decisions, but even throughout this weekend I am continuing to think through the changes being proposed to make sure that they will have positive educational impact. Once we have finalized the plans this week, I will be communicating those changes. If you have any questions or concerns moving forward please reach out and let me know. I am looking forward to continuing to work with each of you in this new capacity!
Happy Holidays!
Courtney Vincent
Interim Director of Education

Director of Student Life for the Day

Director of Student Life for the Day

During Brehm’s 40th Anniversary Gala, Jace Nelson won the opportunity, through the silent auction, to serve in the role of Director of Student Life for the day.

This past Saturday, Jace planned an enjoyable day for the students that allowed them to keep their cell phones overnight, an extended free time, and a day off from chore completion.

Jace N

Director of Student Life

In addition, Jace worked collaboratively with Adrianna to plan an overnight recreation trip which is tentatively set for April, 2023.

The day began with Jace treating students and staff to breakfast at IHOP.
Jace demonstrated excellent leadership skills by assisting staff with student wake ups and ensuring all the young men transitioned efficiently out of the dorms for breakfast. Later, Jace and I picked up a treat for the students to have during lunchtime.

Needless to say, the students had such a great day, they proposed Jace continue in the role of Director of Student Life until the end of the school year!:)

Jingle All the Way!

Jingle All the Way!

Jingle All the Way!

On Saturday morning, a motley crew of our students, faculty, administration, and their friends and family, went to two local assisted living facilities to sing Christmas carols and bring some holiday cheer to the residents there. The student core of the group assembled outside of Christie Hall at 9:15, hunched up with their hands in their pockets to evade Jack frost, who was out in full nose-nipping force ahead of the languidly rising sun, dressed in their bright holiday colors. Once assembled, we donned reindeer antlers, snowmen and gift-festooned headbands, and colorful, blinking light-up necklaces in preparation for the fun ahead. Then, we previewed expectations for the excursion and enjoyed the station-tuning skills of Avery D., who fueled our festive mood with contemporary hits on the radio as we headed out.

Arriving to sing at Manor Court first, we met up with others of our caroling crew, masked up as was required by the facility for the safety of their residents and staff and ours, and were led to a foyer where about 30 residents and staff eventually gathered to sing with and listen to us as we checked off beloved Christmas classics: Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Deck the Halls, and a couple of lesser-known songs, including Christmas Chopsticks. Before leaving for our next and final caroling destination (Integrity Health of Carbondale), our students walked around a display of handmade Christmas ornaments for the audience members to have as a memento of our time with them.

We repeated our melodious merry-making with a more scant gathering of residents and staff at our final spot; but, unfazed, we jingled through the same collection of holiday favorites, passed out more ornaments, and ended the morning with some sweet confections to help refuel our energy stores before dispersing for our separate subsequent To-Dos. Driving back to campus with our students afterward, it tickled my heart to glimpse their faces, flushed and radiant in the rearview mirror, no doubt reflections of the warmth brimming their hearts from the gifts of time, music, and cheer shared with others as much in need of them as we were.

November Academic Staff of the Month

November Academic Staff of the Month

November Academic Staff of the Month

Barb Drew is the embodiment of the Brehm spirit and culture that reminds us that learning, though challenging, can be fun when you have someone who incorporates a strength-based caring approach that builds trust and rapport with students that allows her to tap into the untapped potential that otherwise would be neglected or missed altogether in a traditional classroom setting.

Barb Drew has been working tirelessly to restart Student Council on Brehm’s campus, ensuring that our students have a voice in the process and helping them organize themselves into committees designed to address the specific issues that mean most to each of them and their constituents.

In conjunction with her Student Council co-facilitator Jen Conwell, Barb has sacrificed countless lunch periods to meet with students to help them organize their thoughts into sensible policies that can be put forth to Brehm’s Administrative Team to better help address the issues that are most salient to the student body.  If you’ve had the pleasure of working with Barb before, you’ll understand that this process is informative, fun, and engaging.

Barb has also spent her personal time reorganizing the Brehm Student Store.  For those unfamiliar with the Brehm Student Store, it’s an opportunity to provide students with real-world job experience involving engaging with customers, processing orders, and providing correct change.  This provides them with real-world employability skills that are transferable across a variety of industries.  The Brehm Student Store also provides Student Council with a fundraising opportunity, with the proceeds largely going to fund Brehm’s Prom, which is tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 5th, 2023, provided that Student Council raises enough money to rent space off-campus.

Barb has worked to implement the Lexia Learning program Core5 Reading and PowerUp Literacy programs in her work with our students and has been instrumental in its implementation across the program. Barb has worked to understand the program so she can provide training to other faculty and staff and it has helped to better our on-campus literacy initiative as a result.

Barb and Jen worked with the student body, in conjunction with Jeremy Robbins, LaNeal Nance, Jordan Vandeveer, and Brehm’s newest employee, Licensed School Social Worker Cody Roberts, to string the lights on the Lights Fantastic Float, aka the maintenance truck, which we are thankful to Tom Coffel and Mike Hosman for letting us procure for a large part of the week.  Barb and Jen worked to design the float and got vital help from Brad Siemer and Monte Hefner, who helped to get the bright “BREHM” lights strung on a sturdy sign that will go across the grill of the truck.

Student Life Staff of the Month November

Student Life Staff of the Month November

Student Life Staff of the Month November

Our Student Life Staff of the month is Kimberly Powell.

Kimberly Powell is a returning Assistant Dorm Parent who brings with her a diverse background in education and music. Her educational background provides her with many creative solutions to actively problem solve challenges with students. She works with the students to build independent living skills, such as preparing meals, and challenges them to try new things, like homemade pineapple tea. Active positive participation is one of the core behaviors she consistently models for the students. She participates in many campus activities outside of her typical working hours and encourages the students to be active within the community. Her dedication to our students and Brehm’s mission shines within her every interaction. Kim, thank you for gracing our campus with your positive energy and creativity!

Kimberly Powell
Veteran and Troop Appreciation Day

Veteran and Troop Appreciation Day

On November 3, 2022, the campus took a trip to West Frankfort National Guard Armory. The idea for this trip spawned from a conversation with me and, Director of Academics Bradley Becque. Bradley wanted to do something more appreciative of the armed forces than usual; thank you to those staff members that have and are still serving. I offered a trip to the Armory, where I have worked for the past 11 years. He was all for it, so we both worked out the logistics on our separate ends and had a trip.

Once the staff and students arrived, three other soldiers and I met them. They were then shown how to fall into a typical Miltary formation and divided into four squads. Each squad then rotated between 4 stations where they learned about and tried on different pieces of equipment, a few items to name including Body Armor, Helmets, Sleeping Bags, and Night Vision Goggles.

After completing the equipment tour, we moved into the Army Combat Fitness Challenge. The fitness test is the test we take twice a year to measure our physical fitness levels and meet the standards involved in the military. The actual test comprises six events: the Deadlift, Power Throw, Hand Release Push-Ups, Sprint-Drag-Carry, Leg Tuck, and a 2-mile run. Unfortunately, due to time restraints, we only did the first 5.


Power Throw

Hand Release Push Up

Spring Drag and Carry

The Plank

Watching students participate alongside staff and try their all in the events was inspiring and uplifting. After the fitness test, it was lunchtime, and everyone had a choice between thier packed lunch and an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). It turned into a time of excitement and curiosity, and everyone opened thier meals to see what the packaging was like and how to eat the food and asked me personally how I would go about eating the meal they had to choose.

In the end, everyone did so well that the school was invited to come back every year and occasionally throughout the year. Later we did a small reflection, and all students had a positive outlook on the day; some were even inspired by how they did in the fitness test and began conversations about working out more and going to the gym. There were also prize army backpacks for the three students who achieved the highest scores during the fitness test.