Special Education

Everything at System 1-2-3 revolves around the significance of relationships, and our relationships with these partners are significant.

Mimi, Amber, and the Team

A story of strength finding


System 1-2-3 and Pittsburgh Public Schools Program for Students with Exceptionalities has partnered for the last 4 years to work with teachers in regular and special education settings. Most of the support comes in the form of intensive setting support in classrooms where the stories, strengths, and needs of teachers and therapists, principals and paraprofessionals, coaches and children intersect. It is at one of these intersections where Mimi, Amber, and the therapeutic team came together.


Amber was in her first full year of teaching a self-contained Emotional Support classroom of third, fourth, and fifth graders.  The students were exhibiting many unsafe behaviors that included physical aggression, throwing things at each other, and leaving the classroom without permission, sometimes for long periods of time.  These behaviors were escalating as the year continued, and Amber asked System 1-2-3 to come in to consult with her.

What Amber has to say
about Mimi

“Honestly, I was a little nervous about having someone new come into my classroom, but Mimi eased my mind immediately. On her first visit, I remember her assuring me she was only looking for things that were going well. She made note of my strengths and the strengths of our whole team. Then, she worked with me and my team to create systems that would help turn things around. Even more importantly than helping to come up with a plan, she helped us create the materials and assisted us in implementing the plan. She turned an overwhelming and seemingly impossible job into a manageable one. I quickly noticed significant changes in my students, and I truly appreciated and enjoyed working with Mimi.”

Pittsburgh Public Schools

What Mimi has to say
about Amber

“I was immediately impressed by Amber’s dedication to her students.  She had moved into this ES classroom in the middle of the previous school year after several teachers quit.  Amber was willing to meet all of the challenges head on and cheered on her team and her students as they succeeded behaviorally and academically.  The fact that she mentored a new teacher just two short years later reveal her development as a professional.”

Mimi Perez
Lead Facilitator for System 1-2-3


When they met in January, Amber knew she wanted to provide the students more structure and she wanted to implement changes quickly; she just wasn’t sure where to begin. Amber was enthusiastic to implement changes, but this needed to be a TEAM decision. As a System 1-2-3 facilitator, Mimi became a part of the team, joining Amber and her veteran educational assistant, as well as a new therapist. Each team member was integral in helping to create and implement a very comprehensive classroom behavior management system. They spent about 2 weeks thoughtfully creating the system and making the necessary materials to implement it. As the time to roll out the system approached, the team was nervous. However, the team’s enthusiasm was contagious, and the students immediately responded to the system.


With the new system in place, the incidents of physical aggression and elopement were reduced significantly, and students were able to remain in Amber’s classroom without further movement to a more restrictive environment.  The students began to work as a unit, just as the leadership team modeled for them.  Amber’s team has changed from year-to-year, but she continues to utilize the system with positive results and has even helped another teacher to implement a similar system in their classroom.

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