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South Williamsport, PA
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BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 Serving Support Services to Schools in Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga Counties For Almost 50 Years

Educating students these days can be a challenging and complex thing. One entity that is helping area schools to meet these challenges with technical and various other types of support is the BLaST Intermediate Unit 17. BLaST IU 17 is one of 29 Intermediate Units (IUs) across the Commonwealth. IUs were created in 1971 as

Educating students these days can be a challenging and complex thing. One entity that is helping area schools to meet these challenges with technical and various other types of support is the BLaST Intermediate Unit 17.

BLaST IU 17 is one of 29 Intermediate Units (IUs) across the Commonwealth. IUs were created in 1971 as an act of the General Assembly to serve as educational services agencies. Over the last almost fifty years, IU 17’s services have grown and changed. Yet, their mission is still focused on providing educational services to public and non-public schools across Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, and Tioga Counties.

‘BLaST’ is an acronym representing our four-county service region of Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, and Tioga counties.

BLaST IU 17 is the largest geographic IU in PA, covering almost 4,000 square miles. They serve 19 public schools, two career centers, and 12 non-public schools.

BLaST’s vision is to ‘transform lives and communities through educational services.’

With a staff of almost 400 employees, they provide services within three major divisions: student services, educational planning, and technology. Within each of these divisions, BLaST’s highly-skilled staff fulfill their daily mission to provide, create, and facilitate high-quality educational solutions.

The Division of Student Services is the largest division, providing direct services to students ages birth to age 21 in the areas of early intervention, alternative education, partial hospitalization programs, special education classrooms, one-on-one job coaching, and itinerant services such as speech and occupational therapy.

Amy Wolfhope-Briggs, Director of Student Services, told Webb Weekly, “As a regional educational service agency, IU 17 is fortunate to partner with our constituent districts to transform the lives of students with diverse abilities through the provision of high-quality special education services. Our staff is very talented, dedicated individuals who strive to not only bring out the best in our children but also support their families through their knowledge and expertise”.

Without BLaST, many students and families would not have access to essential services that improve the quality of life for students, families, and the entire community.

In the area of technology, BLaST manages a regional wireless area network with over 1,000 miles of managed fiber. They also provide datacenter and server hosting, network services, custom software applications, phone services, cyber security and monitoring, and web design services.

The Division of Educational Planning works directly with teachers and administrators to provide professional development and curriculum services. This includes supporting schools in the areas of STEM, college and career readiness, curriculum development, trauma-informed practices.

Their Educational Planning staff offers enriching face-to-face professional development opportunities, while integrating online offerings in an effort to better serve our large geographic region.

In accordance with BLaST’s vision of transforming lives and communities, IU 17 partnered with Variety — The Children’s Charity in an effort to provide ALL eligible children age 3-21 with FREE adaptive equipment including strollers, bikes, and communication devices.

BLaST IU 17 and Variety have partnered to launch ‘Finding the Next 1,000 Kids’ — a local identification campaign to find and impact the next 1,000 eligible kids with disabilities through their FREE adaptive equipment programs.

This program will be dealt with in more detail in Dave Bellomo’s article in this issue of Webb Weekly.

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