Meet Your Teams

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Aurora AWARE is a team within the Department of Mental Health & Counseling that promotes social, emotional, and behavioral health by elevating diverse, equitable, and inclusive practices across educational systems. AWARE supports students’ behavioral health and well-being by working with youth-serving adults in the Aurora community to 

Primary contact: Kimberly Kaspar

Our goal, as the Wellness Leadership Team, is to create a culture of Sustainable Care in APS which allows our staff to find the balance between engaging passionately in their work while simultaneously caring for themselves, ultimately providing more successful learning environments for our students.

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. It’s a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.

Sustainable Care is the ability to help others in a compassionate and caring manner that creates a sense of compassion satisfaction and prevents burnout. We are able to engage in our work with passion and commitment while simultaneously caring for ourselves in ways that support our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Sustainable care involves proactive strategies related to self-care, nourishment, and purpose. In order to know what we need to do to care for ourselves, we need to learn to pay attention to our minds, bodies, and emotions. This can be referred to as Mindful Self-Awareness.

Primary contact: Jessica O'Muireadhaigh

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Team Support

Our team works with mental health professionals in APS, which includes school psychologists, school social workers and school counselors.  The goal of our team is to help support new and early-career mental health professionals with APS systems, policies and resources so they are equipped to meet the needs of the students and families in our district.  Mental health professionals are often exposed to traumatic stories and situations that require them to be aware of their own support systems and self-care practices.  We aim to reduce burnout, support best practices in mental health, and encourage wellness, self-awareness and sustainability.  Evidence suggests that providers who build their professional competencies and maintain positive self-care practices exhibit greater physical and mental health, while experiencing longer and more gratifying careers. Through this support, it is our hope that these amazing professionals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to shaping successful futures for our students.

Primary contact: Daniel Gurzick

The English Assessment Team serves as a district resource to provide a range of services primarily related to psycho-educational assessments in the context of special education evaluations. Direct and consultative supports are provided to new behavioral health staff as well as to veterans. The team provides a continuum of support from targeted to comprehensive evaluation and encompasses cognitive, social/emotional/behavioral, adaptive, and executive functioning measures as well as data collection assistance and testing related to autism spectrum disorders. Consultation can also be obtained in order to discuss cases or simply get a fresh perspective. Designed for personnel new to school-based evaluation, regular training is also provided by the team and centers on developing skill with a number of specific assessment tools.

Link to assessment & consultation form.

Primary contact: Daniel Gurzick

The Bilingual Assessment Team serves as a district resource that provides a range of services related to psycho-educational assessments in the context of special education evaluations. Our mission is to provide culturally and linguistically sensitive bilingual assessment and professional consultation for CLDE students in APS who are either currently receiving or have been referred for special education services in a variety of settings. 

Direct and consultative supports are provided to speech-language pathologists, ESS mental health providers, and case managers. The team provides a continuum of support from targeted to comprehensive evaluation and encompasses direct bilingual assessment in Spanish and English in the areas of: communication, cognitive, social/emotional/behavioral, adaptive, executive functioning and academics. We also provide consultation to teams regarding assessment battery selection, cultural and linguistic considerations and interpretation of standardized assessments for CLDE students in cases where students speak a language other than English or Spanish.

Link to assessment & consultation form.

Primary contact: Daniel Gurzick

Aurora Public Schools aims to become a trauma-informed school district, with the foundational belief that obtaining a developmentally relevant and neurobiologically sensitive lens will not only impact the student population impacted by trauma but more importantly, boost the resilience of all staff and the students and families we serve. Districts must know and understand human neurobiology to provide the best educational environments to those they serve. Ultimately it is our goal that all district staff will be able to articulate and build educational experiences that incorporate the foundational concepts rooted in the Neurosequential Model (NM) (All rights reserved © 2006-2020 Bruce D. Perry and The ChildTrauma Academy), which helps shape a successful future for all students. 

The NM Team is comprised of NM Coaches who are a group of trained mental health providers with certificates in the Neurosequential Model in Education (NME) and Neurosequential Model in Therapeutics (NMT) who work primarily in three functions: individual student support, pilot-school coaching, and staff development and training. 

Individual student support may be called upon when a school is working through their multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) and need additional support or ideas. NM Coaches collect information, conduct observations and assessments, and present a written report of recommendations based in the NME. They may also provide consultation, coaching, or other supports as needed. 

Aurora Public Schools have also invested in a Neurosequential Model Pilot School Program which is entering its second year. Each year three schools are selected to implement a three year intentional and methodical approach to train a school-based leadership team in the NME. NM Coaches provide training, consultation, observations, and guidance based on the NME. 

To ensure that the district is moving towards a more trauma-informed and neurobiologically supportive environment, the NM team is currently offering training for individuals from throughout the district. This training is designed to ensure that staff has a neurobiologically-informed approach to supporting the students we serve. The training that the NM team provides helps solidify a common language and approach to working with all students and structuring supportive environments. The NM team has also trained a cohort of multi-disciplinary district leadership representatives to become certified in the NME to develop unified holistic support for students throughout Aurora Public Schools.

Primary contact: Dena Joslyn-Custer