Executive Team

Katherine DiClaudio | Carrie Chapie | Stacie Makris | Renee Blohm | Sara Hollander | Sara Grezlik | Jessica LaRose | Catherine Lewandowski | Amber Baum | Hilde Swain | Sam Linden

FRIENDS of Different Learners is an independent organization of parents, staff, and community members dedicated to maximizing the potential of Birmingham Public School students with different abilities. In the past and throughout the year, FRIENDS offers its members and the community the following services and activities:

FRIENDS’ monthly meetings have provided a variety of valuable free speakers and content. These extraordinary meetings included topics ranging from AD(H)D, ways to support and improve executive function, an overview of services provided by Michigan Alliance for Families, estate planning for families with children with special needs, resources supporting children with screen addiction, mental health speakers and community engagement events such as discussions from our District Administration covering overall curriculum, special education SISS department on a variety of topics, Lincoln Street, personal curriculums, and the BPS Oxford High School Healing Event. The meetings are followed by Q&A time, concluding with excellent networking opportunities between parents, BPS Staff, and subject matter experts.

FRIENDS supports the LINKS program in all BPS schools and offers grants for LINKS/social learning-related activities annually.

FRIENDS now provides an Annual Grant for approved Birmingham Public Schools SISS projects. Prior to the Covid shut down we were thrilled to award the grant to our OT/PT department to support the purchase of listening therapy equipment.

The FRIENDS Executive Committee continues to connect and meet monthly with the BPS Administration Department Executive Director of Specialized Instruction and Student Services, the Department of Character Education, Diversity & Equity, and our District Superintendent to discuss topics and issues of concern for all learners.

With the support of the BPS Administration, FRIENDS started: The Disability Awareness Workshop, LINKS, The High School Sign Language Program, and in 2020 FREE BrainSpring teacher training for 8 teachers within the BPS lower elementary schools and BCS. This collaboration with the BPS Administration has continued to grow to support of our District teachers in science-based literacy instruction for our children, improved screeners for children, and increased use of reliable multi-tiered level of support (MTSS) in or out of the classroom to help reduce the number of children from falling below grade-level without being recognized for appropriate-level intervention.