Hospital Educator and Academic Liaison Association

A new website is currently under development for the Hospital Educator and Academic Liaison Association. 

We are working to combine membership databases to reflect accurate renewal dates. If you are looking to renew your membership prior to the launch of the new site, please contact us at 

Summer 2017
From the Chair to the Desk...

Dear APHOES members,

On behalf of APHOES’ Executive Board, I would like to offer an enormous “thank you” to Alicia Riggs and her amazing staff at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for hosting a dynamic, innovative, productive, and engaging annual joint conference.  New and old members alike had opportunities to collaborate, innovate, learn, and work together to further the missions of APHOES and AECMN.  We also had an opportunity to roll-out a new version of our “kick off” day of conference (formally dubbed “Working Day”) and implement new ways of connecting and collaborating in our joint efforts.  For those of you who were not able to make it to St. Petersburg last month, we hope you will be able to join us for our joint conference (APHOES/AECMN) in the Spring of 2018 in Denver, CO!

With our annual conference also brings the opportunity to welcome our new Executive Board and thank our board members who have rolled off.   I would like to thank Karen Mixon-Martin (Member-at-Large) and Nicole Gutman (Vice-Chair) for their time, dedication, and service to APHOES.  Our organization is greatly indebted to the contributions of our board members who spend countless hours away from work and familial responsibilities to help run and support the “underbelly” of APHOES. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome (and re-welcome) our new board members: Megan Elam (Chair-elect), Alicia Riggs (moving from the position of Member-at-Large into Vice-chair), Patty Kerrigan (Member-at-Large), and Sarah Smith (Member-at-Large).  Rounding out our Executive Board this year are: Cara Giannillo (Member-at-Large), Patty Dillhoff (MCO), Courtney Emery (Treasurer), and Joni Hildreth (Secretary).  I greatly appreciate the commitment that this new board has made to supporting APHOES, its members, and its mission.

As we look ahead to the summer months when school is out and work is perhaps a bit quieter, I hope that many of you will have some time away to spend with family and friends.  I wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable summer.  I am looking forward to another wonderful year for APHOES!

Lisa Northman, Ph.D.
Chairperson, APHOES


School Advocacy Training – Working with an Education Attorney

As an APHOES member, we are advocating for our hospitalized students every single day. Our participation in IEP meetings is crucial to ensure that our patients are receiving the appropriate and necessary accommodations throughout their school day. As the laws surrounding special education are constantly changing, it is important to stay current on state and federal laws. It is also important to have resources when a child’s educational needs are not being met by their school district and the family is in need of support from an education attorney. A group of our education specialists through New York Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center recently completed a training with Special Education Attorney, Courtney Haas. Below are notes that should prove helpful to anyone who actively works as an advocate for hospitalized children.

When should we refer a case to an education attorney?

  •  The district refuses to provide special education services.
  •  The child’s right to FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) is not being met.
  •  The child’s educational, emotional, and/or medical needs cannot be met in the public school setting.
  •  The accommodations and related services listed on a child’s IEP are not being provided at school/home.
  •  The goals on the IEP are inappropriate or unreasonable.
  •  The school has failed to prevent violence or bullying.
  • The student is experiencing unreasonable or excessive punishments by school personnel.
  •  The child is entitled to compensatory tutoring services due to the lack of home instruction hours provided.

How can we support education attorneys working with our patients?

  • Always document all parent concerns – minor details are important!
  • Always communicate with the attorney prior to any school meeting. Ensure you have all of the information needed to determine what the goal for this meeting is and how to accomplish it.
  •  Provide documentation of all medical needs, including recommended accommodations for a child with a specific diagnosis or type of treatment.
  •  Try to obtain a records request from the local school district with the parents’ consent. This will avoid any surprises in an ongoing case.
  •  Make sure to keep everyone on this child’s team in the loop regarding all school communication. (parents, attorneys, education advocates/specialists, social workers, medical team, etc.)
  •  Always ask for a draft of the IEP at every meeting.
  •  Send follow up emails to the individuals leading your patients’ IEP meetings, specifically documenting what was discussed as far as changes to the IEP.
  •  Take detailed notes throughout the IEP meeting. Include names of all participants and their role. Document if the parents have concerns about the program and have asked for more information.
  •  Always ask for all services you feel the child needs. If the school denies the services, ask why.
  •  Make sure to express your concerns and opinions. It is okay to say that you disagree with the district’s decision.
  •  Have a profile of the other students in the class and the classroom management style. Make sure to ask the “why” questions concerning placement in this setting.
  •  Help the parent effectively explain their concerns and their position on placement and accommodations.
  • What should we avoid as to not hinder a case for our patients?
  •  Preparation is key. Never go into an IEP meeting without a clear picture of the outcome you are working towards.
  •  Never attend an IEP meeting for an active legal case without first speaking with the attorney. It is important that you have all recent updates pertaining to the case prior to participating.
  • This meeting should not turn into an argument. It must be kept professional. If the meeting participants are unable to come to an agreement, it is okay to put the meeting on hold and reconvene at a later date. This is particularly important for children with medical needs, as it is helpful to include an expert who knows the case well at the reconvene. (psychologists, nurse practitioners, physicians)
  • For  Additional Resources please visit our Members Only Toolkit
  •  Records Request Example
  •  Communicating with your Child’s School Through Letter Writing - National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
  •  Preparing for an IEP Meeting – Advocates for Children of New York
  • Wrightslaw website-

  • o Recommended Wrightslaw readings: From Emotions to Advocacy, Special Education Law, All About IEPs, All About Tests & Assessments

-Caitlin McCaffrey, Educational Liaison 

The Valerie Fund /Center for Comprehensive Wellness
Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, & Stem Cell Transplantation 
161 Fort Washington Avenue, IP-7 
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, NY 10032

2017 Award Recipients

Sarah Smith, 2017 Nan Songer Award Recipient

Sarah’s nomination spoke to all qualities considered in this award; Practice, Teamwork, Resourcefulness, Innovation, and Advocacy. 

Sarah has been a quiet leader in forging the strong working relationship between APHOES and AECMN.  She is an active and involved member of both organizations, always respecting the differences between, as well as the overlapping goals, of each. 

Sarah sits on APHOES’ Education and Professional Development Committee and Joint Conference Planning Committee, is part of the team involved in the ongoing evolution of the Conference Planning Manual, has been integral in building the APHOES Educator’s Toolbox and Screencast Series.

Anthony Gallonio of the National Grace Foundation
2017 Bridge Award Recipient

Anthony Gallonio is the Executive Director of the National GRACE Foundation.  Anthony has over 20 years of experience working in college admissions and financial aid.  He resides in Rhode Island with his wife Michelle and daughters Ava, Lila and Grace. For more information on the foundation please go to or

Member Spotlight


Nathan T. Ivy, MA ,Education Liaison,
Washington University School of Medicine
Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
St. Louis Children’s Hospital

Name:  Nathan Ivy 

Birthplace:   Webster Groves, Missouri 

 Family:  Single, the 4th of 5 Sons 

Interests/hobbies: Biking, Housing for HIV+ Homeless, & Youth Development. 

Occupation/Title: Sickle Cell Disease Educational Liaison 

What do you like best about your work?  I like having the opportunity to provide academic support to SCD patients and their families, so that they better able to achieve academic success.

What is the most difficult part of your job? Bureaucracy by far, is the most difficult part of my job.

Who was your greatest teacher? I have too many great teachers to name. I    would be remiss, if I failed to acknowledge “the elders.” Several mature, seasoned, adults taught me valuable lessons. Many of which I adhere to and live by daily. 

 What is your favorite book? The BIBLE, hands down.

 Why is APHOES important? The Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Educational Specialists is so   important because it creates an opportunity for like-minded professionals from all over the country to glean best practices, and explore possibilities to better serve their patients.     

What does APHOES mean to you? I am quite fortunate to have a cohort of Educational Specialists colleagues; who are concerned about patients’ opportunities and rights. It is a great deal of encouragement and inspiration to me.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other members?  People don’t care what you know, until they know you care.

 How would you like to be remembered? I’d like to be remembered as a “Man who positively impacted the lives of all He’s  met.” 

Grand Valley State University is working to create a specialized graduate school certificate program (that could lead to a Master’s) for professionals supporting the educational needs of students with health issues. The hope is they would pull from a variety of programs (social work, special education, nursing, philanthropy, etc) to better meet the needs of our unique professional niche. Please join us in taking a moment to answer a brief survey designed to help them choose which courses of study would prove most beneficial [Note: **If you currently serve as an educational liaison/intervention specialist/etc, please clarify that in the free text box at the end of the survey, as it is worded for “hospital teachers” but is meant to capture all who serve in this capacity.

 It is recommended that you use the free text box to capture any additional comments/suggestions you have for this program

 Education and Professional Development

Educational Tool-Kit: A Member only Benefit

Photo by Sarah SmithWe are excited to announce the creation of this Toolbox for the APHOES website. This section will allow APHOES members to access materials that can be shared with parents, school personnel, and medical professionals to provide guidance and support for academic questions and needs.

In order to build this resource library, we’re asking APHOES members to send the Education and Professional Development Committee frequently used documents or resources that might be valuable to other professionals in the field. Documents may include information on the following but do not need to be limited to these topics:

            Diagnosis and Treatment
            Cognitive Late Effects
            Neuropsychological Testing versus School Testing
            Home and Hospital Instruction
            504 Plans/IEPs
            College Scholarships/Resources
            Sample Letters to Schools
            School Re-Entry        

Resources will be reviewed by the Education and Professional Development Committee and Editorial Board prior to acceptance. The source of each document will be cited, and any APHOES member adapting the resource for their own institution must agree to cite the original source in their adaptation. Documents selected for inclusion on the website will be subject to acceptance of “APHOES terms of agreement.”

 Members Only Toolbox

New Resources added:
Release for School Records
Preparing for and IEP Meeting
Communicating with your Child's School Through Letter Writing

The APHOES Membership and Marketing Committee is so excited to announce that the Mentorship Program  has launched!!  APHOES members should have received an email in October providing more information about the Mentorship Program.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Mentorship Program, it is designed to provide new members with professional support from veteran members.  It is intended to be a positive experience for both the Mentor and the Mentee.  It is a way for professionals to positively share education, wisdom, career, and APHOES experiences with another professional who can benefit from the direct and personal interaction.  The APHOES Mentorship Program is open to all Regular Individual Members in good standing. 

Find out more information regarding the Mentorship Program on the APHOES website.  There you will find the Mentorship Guidelines that explains the benefits of this great program. If you would like to join the mentor/mentee program please review the guidelines and contact Susan Ellison at

Welcome Wagon 


Laura Jenkins, OTR/L, MS SpEd
Education Specialist
Upstate Medical University Center for Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders
Pediatric Heme-Onc-Infusion Center
750 East Adams St.
Syracuse, New York 13210
Phone: 315-464-7240
Fax; 315-464-7238

Multiple Disciplines, One Mission

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