Joan Riley

Programming and Technology Director, NEISEC


My desire to work with students with special needs developed after working with a teacher my senior year who taught Title 1 and special education.   My undergraduate training occurred at Taylor University in Elementary Education and Special Education.  I attended Bowling Green University to gain more reading strategies for my students.  I continued my education at IPFW and earned my Specific Learning Disability certificate and Masters in Education.  I then attended Indiana Wesleyan University to increase my toolbox of educational strategies.  I earned my Reading Recovery certificate from Purdue University.   My most recent college experience was earning my Director of Exceptional Needs license from Indiana University.  However, it was the birth of our youngest son that was my greatest learning experience.  He was born with Down syndrome.  Reality of his needs made me more acutely aware that parents count on teachers to be their child’s life line to independence.  My son also gave me firsthand experience as a parent as to what it is like to go through our educational system with a child with special needs.  He has strengthened my passion to diligently provide services that would allow all students to learn.  My son has also given me the opportunity to navigate the waiver application process, dealing with waiting lists, working with group homes and waiver homes.  I know and understand the importance of encouraging our parents to start the waiver process as soon as possible.  Due to his disability, I have experienced firsthand, services available from birth to age 21.  His full educational career has occurred within our cooperative.  I am proud to say he is a productive citizen contributing in a positive way to society.  He has friends and an active social life living as independent as he possibly can.  This all happened as a result of the collaborative efforts, of dedicated staff, administrators, good programming and support from his family.

I have been in education 39 years.  My teaching experiences include teaching kindergarten in a parochial school in Pontiac, Michigan.  I then taught Title 1 Reading at West Unity, Ohio.  My teaching experience continued as a Title 1 and special education resource teacher at Hamilton, Indiana.  In 2005, I was hired as a County Director for the Northeast Indiana Special Education Cooperative.   My current title is NEISEC Director of Data Management and Training.  Some of my professional accomplishments include:

  • Twice recognized for teaching excellence by the Northeast Indiana Special Education Cooperative
  • Nominated and earned Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year
  • Directed the development of the CHOICE program. 
  • Presented at Indiana’s premier educational technology conference for K-12 teachers called ICE (Indiana Computer Educators). 
  • Developed a multi sensory “Reading Vocabulary Program” used to teach vocabulary to Hamilton Elementary special education students using Marzano   strategies.

Some of my key responsibilities include keeping current with changes or updates issued by IDOE and assist our Executive Director with implementing procedures to address the changes or updates.  I also provide technical assistance to all districts for data monitoring and maintain compliance of special education indicators.  In addition to the above responsibilities, I spearhead the implementation in all 12 districts of our statewide IEP system, alternative evaluation system (IMAST, ISTAR) and the statewide collaboration tool (Learning Connection) and am responsible for staff development and training.

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