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Dublin High School’s Bree LeMoine Advocates for Special Needs Students and Athletes

April 11, 2013

Dublin High School Transition Teacher Bree LeMoine

It is a treat to visit with a pioneer. What makes it even more special is when you realize that she has been a ground-breaker on two different fronts. Both her in-classroom and volunteer activities are making a positive impact upon the lives of numerous special needs students and families throughout the Dublin Unified School District. OneDublin.org recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dublin High School Transition Teacher, Bree LeMoine.

Perhaps, long before she knew where her career would take her, Bree passionately pursued academics. Ms. LeMoine attained her B.A in Studio Arts with an emphasis in Photography from Arizona State University. She then taught at a Visual and Performing Arts school in Scottsdale, AZ. Subsequently, she returned to California and enrolled at Chapman University. She then received a Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Certificate (CLAD) and then completed a M.A. in Special Education.

Dublin High School Transition ProgramBeginning in 2002, Bree worked throughout the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. She worked as a Para-educator at the elementary school level and then ultimately worked as a Special Day Class instructor with high school students at both Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley High School, respectively. In 2009, Ms. LeMoine gained experience as a Transition Teacher. This role is specifically cited to support students in Special Education with the goal of completing their high school diplomas and to further develop life skills for their lives after high school. This point is notable in that until very recently, a Transition program did not exist in DUSD. However, as district enrollment continued to rapidly grow, a justification was supported to commence a full-fledged program. As fate would have it, Bree would pioneer this initiative at Dublin High School starting in 2011. She is supported by two Instructional Assistants, Melissa Santamaria and Julie Dow.

OneDublin.org: Independence as adults is a clear goal. However, it appears that the students also rely upon each other. Is this encouraged and why?

Bree LeMoine: “Leaning on each other is highly encouraged! We travel frequently by bus. After we’ve traveled to a destination many times, I will announce that the teachers will no longer be providing guidance. Students consult with each other to ensure that we do not miss our stop. I do notice how exhilarated they are after they have successfully completed a task. If they are unsure of something, they are expected to advocate for themselves.”

OneDublin.org: As the majority of the program is spent outside the classroom, you mentioned that community members now recognize your students while out and about. How has this made them feel?

LeMoine: “They love being recognized and enjoying building relationships. Social skills are something all special educators work on with their students. I see huge growth in my student’s maturity levels and an overall increase in self esteem when they are exposed to and deal with adults within the community.”

OneDublin.org: While life skills are emphasized, why are budgeting, meal planning and social skills particularly so important?

LeMoine: “I weigh equal importance on budgeting, job skills, travel training, cooking, exercise/nutrition and social and safety skills. My goal is to prepare well-rounded individuals who have skills to aid them in all aspects of life. Although there is a wide range of abilities, every skill that we teach provides each student with a higher degree of independence, which leads to confidence and dignity.”

In the opening passage, we hinted at Ms. Lemoine’s contributions on two fronts. Her other passion is for athletics and for introducing her students to sporting endeavors. As a long-time supporter of Special Olympics, she has had numerous opportunities to participate while employed in San Ramon. While Special Olympics events are abundant, most are community based. These vehicles can be rather large and do not offer the intimacy of a site-based experience.

Frederiksen Special Olympics Event - Photo credit Debby Day - PE Teacher 3Last May, the Contra Costa County site event occurred at Acalanes High School in Lafayette. With the encouragement and support of her colleagues, Bree assembled teams from Dublin to take part. Ever resourceful, she also ensured that invitations to attend were extended to various DUSD staff, including Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hanke, Assistant Superintendent Tim McCarty and Director of Special Programs, Angelica Thomas. Any possible trepidation about the value of participation quickly melted within the first hour. The event was a smashing success. As a result, Bree and her colleagues coordinated multiple efforts to initiate Special Olympics events for Tri-Valley students – those attending schools in Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin. This spring alone, there were events at Fallon Middle School, Granada High School and last week at Frederiksen Elementary School.

OneDublin.org: As an Alameda County registrant, the participation at the Acalanes event was a tipping point. How did you know/feel that this would lead to an opportunity for your students?

Bree LeMoine: “A representative of Special Olympics of Northern California (SONC) reached out to me and asked if we would be willing to start a site based program for the Tri-Valley. We responded favorably and from that point on it was history. I just felt that the Alameda County students were missing out on a spectacular opportunity.”

OneDublin.org: You could not pull this across the finish line alone. Please comment on the support that you received from District staff to ensure that this was merely the beginning of expanded participation.

LeMoine: “I really just got the ball rolling. Once I gave SONC the contacts, they took it and ran with it. Dr. Hanke saw the Bay Area Games – loved it and jumped on the opportunity to get it started in our district.”

OneDublin.org: This was clearly a team effort. Please highlight the individuals and organizations that helped to make this become a reality.

LeMoine: “SONC, Dr. Stephen Hanke, Angelica Thomas, Adapted PE Teacher Eric Hamilton, DHS Principal Carol Shimizu, DHS Robotics, DHS Band, Adapted PE teachers, Special Education Teachers/Aides, Parents and of course, the athletes. I would also like to personally thank my two Aides, Melissa Santamaria and Julie Dow.”

So, the next time that you see a troupe of our Transition students traversing throughout our town or when you view a group of Dublin athletes giving their all on a sporting field, stop to thank a “special” educator, like Bree LeMoine.

The 2nd Annual Bay Area Games Track and Field Competition will occur on April 30, 2013 at Acalanes High School in Lafayette. Visit: http://www.sonc.org/schools/school-programs

Frederiksen Special Olympics Event - Photo credit Debby Day - PE Teacher

Frederiksen Special Olympics Event - Photo credit Debby Day - PE Teacher 1

Frederiksen Special Olympics Event - Photo credit Debby Day - PE Teacher 2

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8 Comments
  1. Heather Soto permalink
    April 29, 2013 4:57 pm

    Bree is the wonderful teacher ever and i love to have her as a teacher she is so wonderful i like doing the special olympics with the class and her.

Trackbacks

  1. Camp Parks and Dublin High Collaborate in Support of Transition Students | OneDublin.org
  2. Tri-Valley Families Honor Local Teachers and Citizens That Have Made a Difference | OneDublin.org

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