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Elisha Hanford-Smith

READ Act Tutor and Coordinator

   I am so proud to be a Lincoln Lancer and have the opportunity to work Lincoln's amazing staff, students, and families. As a 5th generation, Fort Collins native, I have had the privilege of seeing both Fort Collins and  Poudre School District grow. I was part of the first class in Poudre School District to welcome students with significant disabilities into the classroom which is now termed mainstreaming. Having the gift of being able to work with peers of all abilities broadened my understanding of what friendship, success, empathy, and cooperation meant. 

   I struggled as a student, learning did not come easy to me. As the youngest of three girls, I often was viewed as the "lazy" sister who "if she just tried harder could be a straight-A student, like her two older sisters." It wasn't until much later in my education that I was identified with Dyslexia and ADHD. Once I was taught about how my own brain worked, was provided with the tools and strategies to make learning more doable and fun, I was able to finally see myself as the student I always knew I could be. I am proud to say that I went on in my initial college career to make the dean's list and be a finalist for Freshman and Sophomore student of the year. It wasn't always easy, but I am proof that students who have learning and attention differences can learn and obtain their life goals. 

   It has been my joy to watch my two children grow. Both my daughter and son have attended PSD schools and my daughter was able to attend the PSD extended programs which are Cooper Home and Project Search. Being a parent of a student with multiple disabilities, whose child started receiving services in preschool, I have been gifted with a keen understanding of the hard work parents put in to advocating for their students as well as seeing the dedication of our Integrated Service teachers, who ensure that all students are provided with the tools, time and strategies to access the general education curriculum. 

   Before joining Poudre School District I was a certified non-legal, educational advocate for parents of students with disabilities in Northern Colorado and have been a member of the Colorado Developmental Disability Council, Colorado Cross-Disability Council, and International Dyslexia Association, Rocky Mountain Branch. In 2011 I joined the School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP) in Poudre School District and supported young adults age 16-25 with mild to moderate disabilities, who had graduated from high school and were now looking to transition to the workforce. When a position became open at Lincoln I jumped at the chance. For the first several years, I was honored to team teach with staff in 6-8 grade while providing behavior and academic support, accommodations, and modifications in classrooms. During this time I also served as the McKinney-Vento Advocate for Lincoln. 

   My passion for ensuring a quality, equitable education for all Lancers has only grown in my current position as Lincoln's READ Act Coordinator and Tutor. While I miss working in the classroom, I love being able to see students in small groups and one-on-one learning sessions; where I support reading growth as a certified Orton Gillingham teacher. When I am not tutoring students, you will find me progress monitoring students with IEPs,READ Plans, and those on an MTSS plan in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade as well as helping students learn how to set their own learning goals and keep track of their personal progress. The data I collect is then used to drive literacy instruction and student's learning targets. 

   Coming from the position of knowing what it feels like to struggle to learn and advocating for my own children, gives me a unique perspective that I hope makes me an empathetic guide for students during their time at Lincoln. Please know that even if your student is not on my caseload, they are always welcome to seek me out. I am happy to support students before and after school and am always willing to answer parent's questions. I also tutor students in the summer to help prevent the summer slide. 

   When I am not at school, I enjoy spending time with my family and our two golden retrievers, Bennett and Dollie. Whether it be on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, strolling in Old Town, or cooking dinner and playing board games, my kids and our dogs constantly keep me challenged and entertained. I love when I get the opportunity for adventure and service and when I can combine the two I am at my happiest!


PSD does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, veteran status, age or disability in access or admission to, or treatment or employment in, its programs or activities. A lack of English speaking skills will not be a barrier to admission or participation.