Note From The Executive Director

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Happy summer! As we swing into our last full month of school, the Pre-K class is busy preparing for another marvelous graduation ceremony. This year, we are graduating 12 students, who will be moving on to elementary schools in Denver, Cherry Creek, Littleton and Douglas County school districts. Whether they have been with us for four years or one year, this class (like the many before it) has forged meaningful relationships across ability levels. Everyone is a friend, and everyone belongs. Never is our mission more evident than when we look back on a class’s time together and celebrate how far they have come, and their unlimited potential to go out into the world and make their mark. Congratulations to the Class of 2017! 

- Meghan Klassen, M.Ed.

News From The Music Therapist

Music, Neoroplasticity and Auditory Processing

Something I have always found fascinating is that music has shown to actually change the brains physical structure and connectivity between the right and left hemispheres. Though research doesn't fully understand all the therapeutic benefits of music, it does theorize that simply listening and singing and engaging in music in childhood lays down a framework for which memory, language and executive functioning skills can thrive.  Young brains are ever changing which is a huge benefit for children who may have auditory processing challenges. Why? Because the brain can be taught to process sounds and language correctly by providing repetitive, relevant stimuli.  Music also challenges the brain to listening for patterns and differentiate sound and tones. Music also provides deep-seated interactions between which may support language delays. So when your music maker is creating music at Rise those brains are receiving optimal musical exercises in music therapy!

- Laura Ganguli, Board Certified Music Therapist

News From The Caterpillars

Summer at Rise is officially here :) You can smell the sunscreen down the halls, hear the kids carefree laughter on the playground, and see some tearful parents as they think about moving on to Kindergarten. 


The Caterpillars have been working so hard all year for their transition. Not only have they learned classroom routines, letters, patterns, and days of the week; but they have also mastered The Rise way by learning together with all of their friends and making friendships, regardless of differences. Although our Caterpillar's will be going to different schools next year, the friendships and what they've taught us will last a lifetime. Whether you've been at Rise since the Bear's classroom or were new this year, the transition to Kindergarten can be tough for our kiddos and our parents. 


During the last month of school, each Caterpillar kiddo will have a whole day dedicated to them; where we spend the whole day talking about all the things that we love about each other and all the special memories we have with them. The kiddo's posters with all this love with be displayed at Graduation. Please come celebrate our amazing graduates on July 13th at 10:00 am, followed by a fun potluck at the park. 

Note From The Executive Director

As a teacher and director, I have always enjoyed getting to watch families grow. Just in the last year, 10 of our Rise families had babies! It has me thinking in this month of May about mothers.  As all of us can probably attest from our own experiences, there is no profession or vocation quite like motherhood. My own mother had seven children in nine-and-a-half years, a feat I have only come to understand and truly appreciate in my adult years. It brings such joy when our families announce pregnancies, grow maternal bellies, and then tote little ones through the door in carseats and add them to our growing waitlist. So today, I want to give a shout-out to all our Rise mommies— for your strength and grace in feeding, laundering, appointment-scheduling, advocating, chauffeuring, nurturing, encouraging, and loving your little ones. It is a privilege to share in the care and education of your children. Happy Mothers’ Day to all of you!

-Meghan Klassen, M. Ed

News From The Speech Therapist


Ditching The Sippy!

Sippy cups seem great- they are convenient and there are no spills to clean up, but there are several reasons to consider ditching the sippy cup. First, hard sippy cup spouts may get in the way of feeding and swallowing development. When your child was a baby he used an anterior-posterior tongue movement to move liquid from the front to the back of the mouth for swallowing. After a year old, kids learn to put their tongue up behind their teeth when swallowing. Hard spouted sippy cups, may get in the way of the necessary tongue placement, preventing tongue tip elevation and interfering with feeding and swallowing development. A tongue that does not elevate tends to rest in a forward position and then may not be able to produce speech sounds accurately. In addition, tongues that rest too far forward can lead to an open mouth resting posture, mouth breathing, and changes in facial structure.

What to use instead?

Straw cups or open cups!  There are lots of good cup options on the market, but here are a few:

Straw cups that pop up to prevent leaking such as the Playtex Sipster Straw Cup







Aluminum cups with built-in straws such as the Kid Basix Safe Sippy Cup (it is a straw cup)










Munchkin 360 Miracle Cup- can be used to teach open cup drinking with less spilling

News From The Ladybugs

The Ladybugs have been very busy this past month! We dove into our spring unit where the kiddos enjoyed talking about different springtime activities, learning about the lifecycle of flowers, and we finished with planting some of our very own flowers! With some sunlight, water, and a lot of waiting time, some of our flowers have finally begun to sprout. Some of our kiddos have been diligently checking in on their flowers and their tender loving care has finally paid off!

This past week we began our unit on Community Helpers, which has always been one of my favorites. This unit allows for the kiddos to engage in dramatic play scenarios with intentionality, which is always fun to watch. Last week, we started talking about different kinds of community helpers. I asked if anyone knew what a doctor who takes care of animals is called, and one of our sweet kiddos said, “Yeah! A vegetarian!” We also talked about what we might want to be when we grow up. Our kiddos chose professions such as doctors, chefs, police officers, moms, dads, and even a princess. We’re looking forward to a visit from a couple of volunteer firefighters come mid-May!  

I’m so proud of all of our kiddos. Each has made such wonderful progress since August. We’re looking forward to finishing the year strong!

Megan Gallager, M. Ed

Lead Teacher, Ladybug Class

Note From The Executive Director

We are back fresh from Spring Break, ready to tackle our last quarter of the year! As always, we have new walkers, new talkers, new readers. The kiddos have come so far this year, and we plan to enjoy our spring months playing and learning inside and outside. I will also be outside—taking on my fourth Elephant Rock bike ride, raising funds for Rise. This year, I decided not to drag my mountain biking team down anymore, and am registered for the 27-mile course. Believe me when I say that if you are even slightly inclined to participate, there is a course for you! The 8-mile “Family Ride” is full of riders of all abilities, and is easy and fun. If you’re up for more of a challenge, try the 27, 40, 62, or 100-mile course. No matter what course you choose, there will be Rise friends, cold beverages and good cheer waiting for you at the finish!

News From The Occupational Therapist

Preschool is a wonderful time for your children to engage in pre-writing activities.  Here at Rise School the days are filled with pre-writing tasks, many of which look like play but these fun activities are encouraging finger and hand strength, finger dexterity, eye-hand coordination and core stability – all skills needed for writing.  Especially important is the development of pencil grasp.  Following is a picture of the developmental progression of pencil grasp.  In the classrooms we observe your children during coloring, drawing, painting, etc. so we know what grasp they are presently using and then develop activities that will help them progress to the next developmental grasp.

The following is a list of activities that encourage developmental progression of a child’s pencil grasp:
•    Working at a vertical surface (painting at an easel, drawing on a chalkboard,  placing stickers on paper taped to the wall, playing with magnets on the fridge) – encourages trunk stability and strength, shoulder stability, arm strength, wrist extension
•    Wheelbarrow walking – weight bearing on hands encourages strength in upper body, shoulder, arms and hands; also gives needed tactile input to palm of hands
•    Squeezing, stretching, rolling PlayDoh, clay, theraputty – improves finger and hand strength
•    Picking up small beads, beans, buttons, macaroni, pom poms and placing in the opening of a plastic bottle – improves strength and efficiency of the pincer grasp (thumb and index finger)
•    Pinching clothespins onto edge of paper plate or cardboard box – improves finger and hand strength
•    Using different sizes and types of writing tools (markers, skinny chalk, fat crayons, skinny and short crayons, colored pencils, etc.) allows the child to explore and practice different ways of holding the tool

- Lynn Vosbeek, OT

News From The Kangaroos

The Kangaroo class has been very busy in 2017!!! Recently we did a unit on food and manners. The kids measured out different ingredients to make a cheerio dessert. This was a fun and tasty math activity! For a sensory activity, the kids played with spaghetti! The kangaroos also learned how to set the table, sorted fruit loops by color, how food gives us energy and how drinking water can keep us healthy and hydrated! 

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Earlier this year we did a unit on love, sharing and friendship. This was a fun way to talk about different social emotional skills. The Kangaroos were able to make friendship bracelets for each other, discuss how we treat our friends at The Rise School and in the world! We have been working on sharing with timers and our waiting for a turn song.

Recently we started a community helper’s unit and have been discussing teachers, mail carriers, doctors and dentists. The kangaroos worked on pre-writing skills and made their own postcards with stamps. They then delivered their postcards to other classrooms and in a mailbox in the Kangaroo room. After spring break, we will be learning about firefighters and police officers and headed on a field trip to a local fire station! 

We are so proud of our Kangaroos for all the progress they have made this year academically, socially and with language development!

- Claudia, Megan and Kristin

Dr. Dannah Raz answers "What's That Rash?"

We often think of the winter months as the most common months for viral and bacterial illnesses. However, many of these illnesses occur throughout the year, some are just more prevalent during certain times of the year. While many of these illnesses can have “classic” signs and symptoms, they can often vary from to child to child. There are some to be on the lookout for, especially with children that attend daycare or are in any time of school setting.  The attached chart outlines some illnesses to be aware of. It is important to note that all children, when able, should receive immunizations according to the schedules recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). While immunizations do not protect against many of the illnesses that are listed in the chart (only Pertussis), they do prevent against other serious illnesses that luckily are no longer highly prevalent in our communities due to the improvement in vaccination rates. This does not mean, however, that these illnesses do not still exist. 

One of the best ways to prevent many contagious illnesses is to practice good hand washing. According to the CDC, you should wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. When you lather your hands with soap, make sure to pay attention to the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails, as well. A good lather should take about 20 seconds (about the time it takes to hum the entire song of “Happy Birthday” twice). After you rinse your hands, make sure to dry them using a clean towel, or air dry. If soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the next best option, although they do not eliminate ALL types of germs. These should be kept out of the reach of children as they contain alcohol.  Another important step that can help prevent the spread of illness is to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. You can start to teach your little ones how to do this, as well!

Please keep in mind that the attached chart does not replace the advice and opinion of the medical professional caring for your child, nor is meant to be a diagnostic tool. It is merely meant to inform you of common childhood illnesses. If you think your child may have one of these or if you have any questions about your child, it is important that you reach out to your child’s primary care provider.  With any illness, please seek medical attention for any concerns, regardless of the diagnosis. 

Note From The Executive Director

Over the last few weeks, I have accompanied some Rise families to tours of public elementary schools in the area to help them make informed selections for the School Choice process. As a visitor, I was considering the environment for both typically developing children and children with special needs. I was surprised by the different populations that each school serves, as well as the resources (or lack thereof). For those parents well into the process, or those still looking ahead to this transition, I thought it might be helpful to have a list of questions to ask when considering what school might be right for your child. 

•    Average student class size?
•    Staffing ratios (How many students per teacher or teaching assistant?)
•    What specials are offered (i.e. P.E., music, technology, art)
•    Does the Kindergarten (or 1st grade) team have expectations of incoming students for certain skills (i.e. counting, letter identification, writing first/last name, etc.) 
•    What extracurricular activities are offered? Is before-school and after-school care available? If so, is it on-site? 
•    What therapy services are available? (i.e. PT, OT, Speech, psychologist, social worker)
•    Are the therapists itinerant or in-house? If itinerant, how many hours spent on this campus?
•    For children on IEPs, what population of students does your campus serve? (i.e. learning disabilities, mild-moderate, moderate-severe, Autism-specific, cross-categorical, etc.) 
•    What is the administration’s or school’s philosophy on inclusion?

It is my estimation that as parents, you will be able to determine pretty quickly whether or not a school would be a good fit for your child, especially given the information above. Our Rise students have gone to elementary schools all over the metro area, and we have found that so much of their experiences depend on their classroom teacher, the administration and its philosophies, and your involvement as a parent. Good luck and please stop in if I can be of any help! 

News From The Bears

The Bears have been keeping us very busy this year – and growing up way too fast. We’ve seen so many achievements, milestones, and goals being met in such a small amount of time, and we’re so proud of all that they have accomplished. Language is growing, skills are developing, and the personalities of each kiddo have definitely started to emerge, and we’re so excited to see what’s next for everybody!
In the past few months, the Bears have played in a snowy Winter Theme, explored vehicles in Things That Go, and created special dishes (including real fruit smoothies) in our Food theme. Right now, we’re in the middle of our Pets theme, and the kids are learning names of pets found in a house, animal sounds, and how to be gentle with small creatures. We’re focusing a lot on dramatic play, so inside the classroom, we’ve created a Pet Shop, where the kids have been feeding animals, grooming their fur, and taking the animals on walks around the school! We also have an Animal Hospital so the children can pretend to be veterinarians and take care of our “sick” pets. So far, everybody has been really enjoying all of the stuffed animals, puppets, and sensory activities throughout the day, and we’re looking forward to seeing even more excitement as the theme goes on!
 - Ms. Therese, Tristen, & Addie

Note From The Executive Director

Wow. My Director’s column from last year at this time was enlisting your help to find us a new home. Well, in case you missed it, we have been offered the opportunity to purchase the building we presently lease, at 4901 East Eastman Ave. We are negotiating a purchase contract with the University Hills Lutheran Church, and as the contract stands, we will have three years (starting in January 2018) to make payments to assume ownership of the building. We will not undergo any renovations until we own the building, as the church will still use the worship space on the weekends, while they renovate their building at 4949 East Eastman Ave. We are interviewing candidates to direct our capital campaign, which will include raising funds to create a gross motor lab and add two classrooms. This has been dream of mine since I started at Rise, and I am so thrilled to see it begin to take shape. Thanks to all who have contributed to this dream thus far. We look forward to sharing our progress with you! 

- Meghan Klassen

News From The Music Therapist

Did you know...

Music therapy can be an effective tool to support auditory processing skills (e.g. auditory discrimination). For instance, is the music loud or soft? Fast or slow? Auditory skills are important for skills such as following directions and learning and retaining letters and sounds. I always like to use the ABC's as an example of music and learning at work. 

Music challenges the brain to listen for patterns, to differentiate tones and sounds such as how many beats can you hear on the drum. This requires attention, focus and organizing the information heard. I like to call these music brain exercises which are fun and motivating! We do music brain exercises every week in music therapy and I bet you do too. Maybe listening or singing a familiar song in the car or tapping along to a beat. This is your brain recalling and retaining music and all of its elements in a fun organized way. So keep up the playing!

Laura Ganguli, MA, MT-BC
Music Therapist Board Certified

News From The Caterpillars

This month, the Caterpillar class read the book, Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by: James Promis. In the book we learned that even us kiddos can achieve world peace with small actions.  We followed Paulie's plan of attack and started doing small things like being kind to animals, brothers and sisters, and listening to teachers. :) The Caterpillars learned how to tell apart differences in patterns, adding -er and -ing to words, new signs, some friends are using their talkers more, while others have started to read sight word books. Paulie also taught us that any conflict can be resolved with a cupcake. So last week, the Caterpillars made and delivered cupcakes to all of Rise, in hopes to achieve world peace! Next month, we will be reading the classic, The Mitten - in which the kiddos will be working on sequencing and using new descriptive words. 

- Miss Jacqui

Note From The Executive Director

Words cannot express my gratitude this holiday season. Over the course of 48 hours, and in addition to two tremendous individual gifts, many of you helped us raise $450,000 for Colorado Gives Day. You read that right-- $450,000. It has been our single greatest fundraising endeavor in my time at The Rise School. I want you to know what this means to me, and to the school. 1) It means you share our conviction that children can learn from each other, no matter their respective path of development. 2) You believe that early childhood education and intervention have the power to change outcomes for children with and without disabilities. 3) You want more children and families to benefit from our unique educational model. 4) You believe that our children and staff deserve appropriate and state-of-the-art classrooms and learning spaces. I believe all of these things, too, and I am beyond excited to see what the future holds for us and share that with you. From the bottom of heart, THANK YOU. Happiest of holidays to you and yours!

- Meghan

News From The Speech Therapist

With the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, it is nice to curl up with your child, take a deep breath, and enjoy some quiet time with books. Here are some do’s and don’ts for making book time an enjoyable, language learning experience for your child this holiday season and beyond.  
•    Do find time daily to read with your child.  
•    Don’t be afraid to read the same books over and over again.
•    Do follow your child’s lead when reading, allowing your child a chance to show you or tell you what she finds interesting. 
•    If it is hard to get your child engaged in a book, try books with real photos, interactive parts (e.g., flaps that open, touch and feel), or books with a sing song or repetitive rhythm.  
•    Don’t feel the need to read every word on the page, especially in longer books.
•    Do Prompt your child to talk about the book by asking questions, making comments, relating personal experiences, or letting the child fill in the blank. 
•    Do try reading some winter book favorites such as The Snowy Day, The Hat, The Mitten

Happy Holidays!  

- Amanda Seligman


News From The Ladybug Class

The ladybugs have been very busy! Before Thanksgiving we read the book Stone Soup and talked about the different ways we can be good neighbors or friends to each other, and one way we practiced this was by sharing. Our Monday kiddos each brought in a different ingredient and together we made our very own Stone Soup! The kiddos loved cutting their special ingredient from home and then adding it to the pot. We waited, watched, and smelled our soup all the way up until lunchtime. Yum! More recently, we’ve started learning about winter and the upcoming holiday season!

In addition to our weekly theme, the Ladybugs are learning a lot about letters. Each week is dedicated to a certain letter of the alphabet. During that week we work on naming the letter, what sound the letter makes, how to build the letter with wood pieces, and then how to write the uppercase letter. We have been applying this knowledge to our daily sign-ins, where each of our students is working on identifying their name, drawing pre-writing strokes or simple shapes, or writing specific letters, or writing their names.

We’ve had a wonderful first half of the school year, and are very proud of the progress each our kiddos has made. We're looking forward to welcoming our Ladybugs back in January!

- Miss Megan, Lead Teacher

Note From The Executive Director

As the sun continues to shine this late into Fall, and we are officially into the month of Thanksgiving, I am counting my blessings. Thank you to The Schramm Foundation for its continued support for our occupational therapy program. Thank you to the In Jesus’ Name Fund for its continued support of our music therapy program. I am grateful for opportunity that has arisen to make this location our permanent home and the opportunity it will present to serve more families. I am grateful for the opportunity of statewide philanthropy on Colorado Gives Day, which is Dec. 6. In preparation for this day of gratitude and giving, you will hear from families and staff about what Rise has meant to them. If you have already been touched by what we do here, make a pledge now. Your dollars are what secure our future to help so many kiddos grow and thrive. Happy Thanksgiving! 

- Meghan Klassen, Executive Director

News From The Occupational Therapist

Blowing cotton balls!  Blowing bubbles into water! Blowing into party blowers!  These are just a few of the many oral motor games your children have been playing during OT time.  They have been learning and / or practicing blowing skills to help calm and organize their bodies before a transition or an activity that requires focus and attention.  Besides being a lot of fun, these activities are also building strength in the mouth musculature for speech and eating skills and improving posture.  It has been amazing to watch all the children engage in the blowing activities for longer and longer periods of time.  They are excited and having fun and then they are usually ready to move on to the next activity in a calm alert state.  Although we have been focusing on blowing activities, sucking is also a good activity for organizing.  The following oral activities are just a few that you could try at home to help calm and organize your children before a big event, before bedtime or a shopping trip, etc.  As the holidays quickly approach, keep in mind these quick activities to help you keep your sanity during changes in routines and schedules.

•    Blowing through a straw into a tub of water with a few drops of dish soap or baby shampoo to make bubbles
•    Blowing a cotton ball across the table with or without a straw
•    Blowing cotton balls or ping pong balls along a tape line on the floor into a “corral”
•    Blowing feathers off the palm of your hand or their own hand
•    Blowing party blowers
•    Blowing ice cubes around in a tub of water with a straw
•    Blowing on a kazoo or harmonica
•    Sucking applesauce or yogurt through a straw


Lynn Vosbeek, OT