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Next Steps NH Project Receives National Award

Next Steps NH received the  ACRES (American Council on Rural Special Education) Exemplary Rural Special Education Program Award in the area of Vocational Training and Transition at the national conference in March.

Left to right: Betsy Street, project leader for Next Steps NH at Keene State College, Steve Bigaj, Professor of Education at Keene State, and Ann Berry, Associate Professor of Special Education at Plymouth State University

Who: Ann Berry, Associate Professor of Education at Plymouth State University  and Steve Bigaj, Professor ofEducation at Keene State, Betsy Street, project leader at KSC, accepted the award on behalf of the Next Steps NH project. The goal of the six year project is to improve post high school outcomes for students with disabilities. Keene State partnered with the NH Department of Education, the Parent Information Center, regional intermediary agencies who worked directly with high schools, Plymouth State, and the UNH Institute on Disability.

What: 2018 ACRES Award for an Exemplary Rural Special Education Program in the category of Vocational Training and Transition. The American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) offers national awards to individuals or schools and agencies who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments related to rural special education.

KSC and PSU worked closely together to improve their respective special education master’s programs by including more college- and career-ready concepts and practice in our coursework and field experiences. They shared resources, ideas and materials between the two campuses.

The project worked with a total of 16 New Hampshire high schools for two years each, helping them assess their current transition planning efforts and develop action plans for improvement. Next Steps NH then provided ongoing coaching and training to the schools as they completed their action plans. Keene State developed the online Transition Resource Portal which consists of the Next Steps NH website, the BeyondClassroom website, and a Facebook page and Twitter account.

When: March 2018

Where:  2018 ACRES conference in Salt Lake City

Why: Project evaluation data shows the approach is effective.

ACRES background: The American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) is a national non-profit organization comprised of special educators, general educators, related service providers, administrators, teacher trainers, researchers, and parents who are committed to the enhancement of services to children and adults with disabilities living in rural communities. ACRES was founded in 1981 and is the only national organization devoted entirely to special education issues that affect rural America.

Previous KSC PR on the Next Steps NH project:

Award info:

ACRES website:

Next Steps NH websites:

  • Next Steps: Resource site for teachers, parents and students with disabilities who are planning for life after high school. Tailored for New Hampshire and used nationwide.
  • Beyond Classroom: Resource site for developing Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) in high schools in New Hampshire