The Times, They Are a Changin’
Establishing a Transition
Community of Practice in
Your State
Fall 2005
Topics of Discussion
Overview of a Community of Practice
Creation of a Local Community of Practice
A State VR Director’s Perspective
A Regional Approach to Expanding
Communities of Practice
Growing and Sustaining a Community of
Practice: A Statewide Perspective
How Can Your State be Involved in the
National Transition Community of Practice?
What’s on Your Mind?
Establishing a Transition
Community of Practice in
Your State
Overview of a Community
of Practice
Joanne Cashman, Director
The IDEA Partnership
A Community of Practice
“Group of people who share a concern, a set
of problems or a passion about a topic,
and who deepen their understanding and
knowledge of this area by interacting on
an ongoing basis.”
(Etienne Wenger et.al., 2002)
A Community of Practice is
about Outcomes
All partners are required to demonstrate
outcomes of youth served.
What’s in it for Me for ALL partners in the
The community comes together around
the shared vision of youth with disabilities
becoming productive, self-sufficient
The Spirit of Community:
We Are In This Together!
A way of working
Involving those who do shared work
Involving those that share issues
Always asking “who isn’t here?”
A way of learning
To create new knowledge grounded
in ‘doing the work’
With those who can advocate for
and make change
Encouraging Investments that
Result in Outcomes
• Learning how to move from ‘knowing’ to ‘doing.’
• Translating learning to policy.
• Encouraging investments that will move the
• Recognizing the value of all contributions to a
more complete and effective approach.
• Creating new relationships among
policymakers, researchers and implementers.
Creation of a Local
Community of Practice
Marty Kester
Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant
Before it was called a
Community of Practice…
Reality: Youth were graduating unprepared for
Gathered interested stakeholders to discuss the
Identified barriers and potential solutions.
Commitment and leadership: the birth of the Berks
County Local Transition Coordinating Council…the rest
is history!
As the Bureau Director, recognized and promoted this
“strategy” as common practice in VR…now called a
“community of practice”.
A State VR Director’s Perspective
Catherine Campisi, PhD
CA Department of Rehabilitation
Community of Practice
Why Was it Important to California VR?
Why Should it be Important to your VR Agency?
Public Policy of Seamless Transition in Rehab Act and
Interagency Agreements between VR and Education
Interagency Agreement between VR and higher
Interagency Agreements with WIA partner agencies
IPE before leaving high school—seamless transition
Community of Practice is A Mechanism to Make the
Paper Real
What Could be the Better
Outcomes of Using CoP?
Young VR Consumers are better prepared for
Coordinated career planning
Better Consumer Plans for Employment
Less missteps, lack of consumer success and
conflict which saves VR dollars and staff time;
Development of new disability community
leaders and meaningful youth input on SRCs,
SILCs, WIBs, and grant advisory councils;
Facing Some Realities
Too many issues, overloaded staff, lack of resources
CoP is not required in the Rehab Act
All true… but inter-agency coordination to support youth
moving from school to work IS required
Because you cannot do it all, DOES NOT MEAN YOU
Key value of partnership is communication, discussion,
and negotiation. Find the incremental progress steps.
It gets easier and has a multiplier effect as you go on
Bottom-line – Make the public policy and the paper
required of VR for seamless transition REAL… CoP is a
mechanism to help get you there.
A Regional Approach to Expanding
Communities of Practice
Vance Coover, NE Division Administrator
PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Hal Bloss, Assistant Executive Director
Luzerne Intermediate Unit
VR Issues
Success Rate
Job Retention
Limited Budget
Better Student Job Programs
Early Focus on Jobs
Student Centered
Real Situations
Community Integrated
Data Collection
Complexities Across Systems’ Boundaries
Geographic/Regional Challenges
Community of Practice
Community = More than 1
Practice = Just Do It!
Growing Effective Practices
College Experience Programs
Transition House Programs
NE PA Community of Practice
College Experience Programs
Special Education
4 Intermediate Units (#16, 17, 18 & 19)
Hazelton Area School District
Tunkannock Area School District
OVR Wilkes-Barre District Office
Post-Secondary Schools
Penn State – Hazleton
Luzerne Co Community College
Lackawanna College-Towanda
Bloomsburg University
Penn State – Worthington
Expanding Your Community’s Capacity
through Replication of Best Practices
OVR Transition Project with Hazleton School
District & Penn State University: College
Opportunities Options Program
To provide experiential learning for youth on a college
campus, while in high school to determine if postsecondary education is a via goal, to experience the
expectations of higher education, and to learn from
other experienced youth.
Replication in six sites, designed to meet the
needs of youth in a local area.
VITAL House: Transition House
Model Program
OVR Transition Project with Hazleton School District to
establish VITAL House
Youth Outcomes Evident!
Transition Houses Began to Appear Across
Pennsylvania…Some with Funding, Others with No
Success Breeds Success!
In the Northeast Region of PA Youth Now Have
Participation in a Transition House as a High School
Victory Village
The REAL Academy
Building Local
Communities of Practice
What does it take?
Three Key Principles: An
Regional Educator’s Perspective
Appropriate Placement
 What? Who? Where? When? And the
overriding question is Why?
 Build strength based models- islands of
 Remove the fear
Everyone working with the student must be
an advocate for the student
Be consistent with the message!
Capability for Replication
Move off the Dime!!!
Start the Journey!!! Vision comes later!!!
Be Ambiguous - Sell the problems, not the
Stop the monologue, start the dialogue!
Provide opportunity and choice. AOAP!!!
No X-mas Tree programs!!!
Be consistent with the message!
Growing and Sustaining a
Community of Practice:
A Statewide Perspective
Joan Kester, Statewide Transition
Specialist, PA OVR
State Leadership Team, PA Community on
So Where do You Begin?
It happens on multiple levels – national, state, regional,
local levels.
What’s on your plate? What is achievable and could
create a win-win situation?
Give up Control. Share the responsibility for solutions.
Who could contribute, broaden your impact, and share
the work? Involve others from the BEGINNING, not at
the end to create buy-in and ownership. Things may feel
Take a leap of faith. Families and youth have a great
depth of knowledge and experience. Involve them in your
work from the start in deeper roles.
So Where do You Begin?
Leadership is essential and multi-dimensional.
Work with a purpose. Focus on outcomes.
Open, honest, ongoing dialogue about the tough
issues. No more pointing fingers or pretending
things are perfect. Get beyond turf issues.
Create a teamwork environment. Your team is ever
evolving. Promote a “you can count on me
Synergize! Share your passion. Accept diverse
opinions. Trust that multiple perspectives lead to
solutions when you least expect it! Celebrate and
have fun.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Combine professional development
efforts. If we all hear the same message,
we will eventually speak the same
language and focus on the same
Cross-pollinate on projects, policies,
initiatives, state plans, etc. Pave the way
to seamless transition services.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
“I’m from the state and I’m here to help, trust me!”
Break down these barriers. Replace with “We are
in this together.”
Actions speak louder than words. You can count
on the state team. Create forums for open, honest
communication. Be prepared to hear about
problems and barriers. Always balance these
discussions with potential solutions and
highlighting what works.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Help connect the dots of effective
practices. Stop reinventing the wheel by
establishing a network.
Create an environment where local
stakeholders can learn from one another,
and can count on networking
opportunities: statewide conference,
regional sessions, conference calls, listserves, and websites. Be creative!
Sustaining Your Efforts
Ongoing strategic planning may provide clarity
and focus of future work. Always move forward.
Develop and nurture a culture of community.
Build and sustain an effective communication
Remember ideas develop in all directions. Input
and feedback from stakeholders drive your
Community of practice is a way of working, not
a new or separate initiative. It aligns with our
traditional VR philosophy.
Final Words of Wisdom
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Make sure people are constantly given
opportunities to connect to your work in
meaningful ways.
Always ask who is not at the table and could
contribute? Don’t take no for an answer.
Feel the passion and synergy created from
community efforts.
Stay focused on the vision – it’s all about youth
The IDEA Partnership: How can Your
State Become Involved?
More information on the
Interagency Transition
Community and other
Cross-State/Cross Role
Communities is now
available at:
…or call us toll free at :
1-877- IDEAINFo
The Times, They Are a Changin’
Establishing a Transition
Community of Practice in
Your State
Feel Free to Contact Us!
Catherine Campisi, ccampisi@dor.ca.gov
Joanne Cashman, joanne.cashman@nasdse.org
Marty Kester, mgkester@comcast.net
Joan Kester, joakester@state.pa.us
Vance Coover, vcoover@state.pa.us
Hal Bloss, hbloss@liu18.org

CSAVR The Times, They Are a Changin’