An interview with Kim Aune, Groves Transitions Advocate

Groves Staff Feature

Kim Aune will be moderating our first-ever Virtual Info Session on Thursday, April 23. Don’t miss this opportunity to take part in a question-and-answer session via online chat with current students, parents, and Groves Admissions and Learning Center teams. 

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This interview was originally published in “Connections” in June 2019.

“A lot goes into the decision to transition for each family. We want our families to feel as supported as they leave as when they first walked through the doors at Groves.”

How long have you been at Groves Academy? What are the various roles you have held in your tenure?

I have been at Groves for 10 years. I started part-time as a lunchroom helper, taught keyboarding to lower school students, and then added managing the tutoring program. When the Learning Center opened in 2015, I moved to a full-time role as Client Services Manager which involved working with families seeking diagnostic assessments, speech, and tutoring. After three years, I moved to this new role as the Transitions Advocate for our school.

Why did you choose to work at Groves Academy?

I spent my career as a corporate trainer and then I took a nine-year maternity leave. When I was ready to go back to work I knew I wanted to work part-time in an educational setting. Groves was a good first step in helping me explore if I wanted to make a career in education. I applied and here we are. I truly enjoy working with students and their families.

How has Groves Academy changed over the years?

In my ten years at Groves, I could sum it up in one word – growth. Growth both in the physical space we are currently in and also growth in programs and students served. Also in John’s (Alexander) tenure he helped us become focused on who we serve and embracing our mission, vision, and core values, which has allowed us to grow and make an impact. I am energized to be a part of something on the move.

The Transition Advocate is a new full-time position at Groves tell us more about what has gone into this program?

This program has evolved quite a bit over the years. Transitions in and out of Groves have always been a part of our community. We recognized as we grew that to be able to do this really well for our students and their families we needed a full-time point person.

We work to prepare a student and family as they move on to their next school. This may include questions to ask new schools, attending an open house, updating a child’s diagnostic assessment for the transition, and guidance, if needed, on the special education process, and helping write an accommodation plan.

What do you like best about your role at Groves?

Working with parents and their children. Answering their questions and guiding them as they make big decisions. Watching the students get involved in the decision process. Helping the parents come up with questions to feel more prepared. “What do I ask the new school? Is my child ready? What might trip them up when they walk out the door?”

What are you most excited about at Groves?

I toured 27 schools this past year. I am excited to tour at least 15 more schools this fall. It is energizing to continue to understand what is out there for our students and why other schools may or may not be a fit. It is so important to visit schools, ask questions and encourage students to ask questions on visiting day. I enjoy helping the parents navigate this whole process.

How have your various roles at Groves helped you prepare for your new role?

My role as the Client Service Manager in the Learning Center helped prepare me for this job. I have a deep understanding of the diagnostic assessment process, the different types of testing available and have a great working relationship with the psychologists.

As we look ahead to the new school year, on what things for the program are you working to implement?

Quite a few things are in the works, including:

  • Getting more electronics-based records so we can rapidly access files for a student’s transition process
  • Hosting an annual transition night in the fall for families, keeping office hours during conferences
  • Continued development of the working relationship with SLP public schools for special education referral
  • Using parent feedback to create a new, updated transition document to help parents which includes a readiness checklist developed with the help of Debbie Moran
  • Continuing to improve tools based on parent feedback

Another big item is to develop a roadmap for students and their families as we all navigate this process – a sort of “what to do when” situation. It is tricky because each student and their plans are unique but working to create a baseline for all students.

What do you like to do outside of Groves?

Spend time with my family. Starting this fall, both of my children will be away at college, so this will look very different. I’m an avid camper and canoe and camp in the Boundary Waters and around Minnesota.

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