Special Education

  • Welcome to Open World Learning Community Special Education!

    Special Education Team~

    Secondary Teachers:

    • Sheri Gonsioroski (SLD/Specific Learning Disability Teacher)

    -Licensed in Elementary Education K-6, EBD, and SLD.


    • Jeff Steiner (EBD/Emotional Behavioral Disorder Teacher)

    -Licensed in EBD

    • Misha Hemingson(SLD/Specific Learning Disability Teacher)

    -Licensed in SLD

    • Andy Kunkel (Autism Spectrum Disorder Teacher)

    -Licensed in ASD and LD 

     Speech and Language:  Deanna Amborn

     School Nurse:  James Patterson

     School Social Workers:  Michelle Romano, Paige Geck

     Teaching Assistant: Edric Lysne, Tammy Plaman, Michaele Caron

     Deaf-Hard of Hearing Itinerant:  Lauren Clausen

     Occupational Therapist: Teresa Glass

     School Psychologist:  Amy Coad


    Our Program~

    Open World Learning Community is proud to serve students from 6-12th grade with a variety of special education categorical disabilities: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Deaf-Hard of Hearing, Emotional Behavioral Disorder, Other Health Disability, Specific Learning Disabilities,Speech and Language, and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Deaf Hard of Hearing Services, Occupational Therapy, Adaptive Physical Education Services, Transition Planning, STEPS Sites, and Mobility Training are provided by Saint Paul Public School staff for those students that qualify.

    The Special Education staff cross service students regardless of their disability labels or individual teacher licenses. This allows families and students to connect with all of the staff to create benefits to the student that go above and beyond typical servicing.  All of the special education students belong to all of the special education staff and we all work hard for your child's overall success. The students should feel free to talk to or seek out any one of us at any time.

    To provide our Special Education students with the least restrictive learning environment possible, our goal is for Special Education students to be enrolled in General Education Courses the entire school day.  This allows the students to be exposed to the grade level standards and curriculum at the same rate as their peers. This improves overall learning and preparedness for state-wide, standardized assessments.  Exposure to the general education curriculum also gives the students the opportunity to be taught in an Expeditionary Model and be exposed to Expeditionary Learning protocals consistent with the exposure that their peers would have.  Our goal is to have students fit into the classroom setting smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

    Special Education teachers co-teach with mainstream teachers in General Education courses through a collaborative teaching model across the content areas (Mathematics, Social Studies, and English).  This provides students with the most successful educational experience as possible.  Small groups are pulled during individual work sessions for more guided skill instuction on an as needed basis.

    OWL's special education department also has teaching assistants that provide support during the school day in a variety of core content area courses. The yare assigned based on student non 1:1 services on IEPs and with servicing numbers or clusters of students in classrooms.


    Our students and their families bring a rich diversity to the Open World Learning Community. When students believe that success is possible, they will try.  So our first priority in any class is to help students believe in themselves and their ability to learn. We recognize and support the importance of individualizing the educational experience to meet the unique needs of each student.


    The major focus of the Special Education experience at Open World Learning Community is basic skill practice (Reading, Written Language, and Mathematics) to meet IEP goals. Organizational and work completion skills are also reinforced. Transition activities are emphasized beginning at age 14 or 9th grade (Jobs and Job Training, Post Secondary Education Preparation, Community Participation, Recreation and Leisure, and Home and Daily Living Skills). 

    Individual accommodations/ modifications are made, on a per student basis, based on their current IEP.

    Communication Disorders:

    Students who have needs in receptive/expressive/processing language, articulation of sounds, fluency, and voice production are serviced by the speech/language pathologist.  These areas are improved as they relate to the student’s educational success through high school and needs for post-secondary life.

    Social Work:

    We have one full time social worker (Michelle) and one half time social worker (Paige). Our social workers primarily work with students who receive special education services. In addition, they can provide short term counseling to any student(s) who may need additional crisis support. They are experienced in working with students with mental health challenges and trauma backgrounds. They provide counseling to students individually or in groups. They are  available to consult with teachers, staff and parents. Additionally our social workers partner directly with outside agencies to assist in our student's social and emotional growth. Our social workers' goal is to help students feel academic, social and emotional success.