We are sad that Jean K. Echternacht recently left the University of Minnesota, and thankful for her years of leadership and service. We are also excited that Eileen Klemm, national Check & Connect trainer since 2012, has taken the helm. Read her letter below providing vision and context to her new role as Check & Connect program manager.
I am thrilled to now serve in the position of Check & Connect program manager. After nearly five years as a Check & Connect (C&C) project coordinator and national trainer, I am ready and motivated to grow the impact of C&C nationally and even internationally. I have a vision for expanding the array of C&C training and technical assistance opportunities available to mentors, coordinators, and certified local C&C trainers. I want to support the dedicated professionals who are implementing and providing training on this evidence-based model. I am also eager to put into practice what I am learning through my doctorate in evaluation studies at the University of Minnesota (the working title of my dissertation is Ensuring Fidelity of Implementation of Check & Connect: The Role of Evaluation).
Life is truly a journey, so how did I get here? I began my professional career 26 years ago as a volunteer coordinator at a residential facility for adults with physical disabilities. A few years later I decided to embark on an uphill climb through graduate school. Earning my M.A. landed me in the Saint Paul Public Schools and later in a nearby suburban school as a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Thirteen years later, I was ready for another uphill challenge. I enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota in evaluation studies. During this time, my career path took me to the Minnesota Department of Education and ultimately to Check & Connect at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.
Since then, not only have I been able to help grow C&C, I have also recently reached the milestone of Ph.D. candidacy, so I am ready to embark on my dissertation. I begin my new role just as C&C is reaching three milestones:
- Perhaps the most exciting milestone is the imminent release of the C&C APP this fall. This online system provides an avenue for monitoring student progress, tracking interventions, and ensuring fidelity of implementation.
- Secondly, we will soon add Montana as our 8th state utilizing the C&C train-the-trainer model, as professionals in that area become certified local C&C trainers this coming year.
- Lastly, we are hosting our second biennial C&C conference on October 12-13 on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. I hope to see many of you there.
Here’s to a great start to a new school-year!
Eileen A. Klemm
Check & Connect Program Manager