Special Education

Niwot High School - Special Education Department


SPED Department Overview:

The Special Education Department serves students identified with a range of disabilities who have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).  Specialized classes instruct students in core subjects as well as electives targeting adult living skills.  Through these classes students learn about disability awareness, self-advocacy, social skills, communication skills, and life skills including job obtaining and maintaining skills, personal finance, and post secondary exploration to help in the development of a realistic plan for the year(s) following high school.  The Department also focuses on educating students about a range of postsecondary options from district programming to college and careers.


Meet the Department!


Joe Kear

Department Chair

Mild/Moderate Needs Special Education Teacher

Assistant Boy’s Basketball Coach

9th Grade Action Team




Courses Taught:

  • Basic English 9-12

  • Literacy

  • Life Decisions

Dawn Zwisler

Mild/Moderate Needs Special Education Teacher       




Courses taught:

  • Algebra Co-Teacher

  • Algebra Extensions

  • Geometry Extensions

  • Life Decisions


Joe and Dawn work with students with mild to moderate disabilities to build the skills needed to independently access their education.  In addition they collaborate regularly with teachers on strategies to support students in the classroom including how accommodations might look and assistance to modify assignment and tests as needed.  


Amy Holle

Significant Support Needs Teacher                              




Amy teaches students with significant support needs (SSN) who are not yet able to manage the general high school curriculum.  Many of these students have significant cognitive deficits which prevent them from accessing curriculum.  Amy teaches all core content for students with intellectual disabilities and provides paraprofessional support in electives to monitor safety and modification of expectations to the state extended evidence outcomes.


Miki Mills

HFA (High Functioning Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome)   

x46668 (email preferred)



  • Miki teaches Global Skills focusing on disability awareness, self-advocacy, use of strategies/accommodations/modifications as necessary, regulating emotional states and accessing needed supports post high school.

  • Self Determination is a new course she is teaching to apply those same ideas for younger students within the resource group.

  • Miki teaches our one Academic Lab which is like a study hall with support for organization, breaking down of assignments and task initiation and completion.


Most of Miki’s students have educational disabilities under the Autism Disabilities “umbrella”, more specifically with HFA (High Functioning Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome) and those whose skills fall within the moderate range.  Students with HFA/AS typically have “average” to “above average” academic skills but require more intense supports and instruction in order to access general education courses with regards to their ability to organize class work, attend to group instructions and directions, produce work to expectation and get completed assignments to teachers at the appropriate time and place. In addition to teaching Global Skills and Academic Lab, Miki’s routine includes collaboration with staff on work expectations, accommodations and modifications and supporting healthy connections with families.


Misty Hernon

School Psychologist/Special Education Facilitator           




Misty manages and facilitates the special education needs of the building.  She works with all Special Education teachers to meet student needs, provide consultation to all staff when needed around students emotional or learning needs, provide mental health supports to students, complete evaluations for special education eligibility, and make sure all legal requirements are met.  



The role of a paraprofessional is to provide teacher-directed support to our students in the SSN classroom or other special education classroom as well as in general education courses as needed.  When in general education classes paraprofessionals are there to support student learning needs and may assist students in reviewing material and accommodating or modifying assignments.  


Please contact us with any questions, concerns, or ideas on how to support kids better.  We are here to help all students at Niwot get the amazing education we are known for so please let us know if we can be of any assistance.