Director's Report

Special Services Director Erin Madara's updates on district special education activities for the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year

Director's Notes 11/4/21 SEPAG

Professional Development opportunities have been provided to special education teachers across all levels in the district. In October, our pre-school school teachers participated in CPI- (Crisis Prevention Institute) Training, provided by our district BCBA. This training provides teachers with positive behavior support and de-escalation strategies, as well as knowledge related to how to keep students and staff safe.

In October, our special education teachers at the elementary level, completed Phonics First Training (Phonics First is rooted in the Orton-Gillingham principles of instruction. It is a multisensory, systematic, structured, sequential, phonics-based, direct-instruction approach to teaching reading). Using this program, teachers employ a multi-sensory approach to target and improve specific reading skills for students. In addition, many teachers at both elementary and secondary levels, have received training related to Guided Reading (Guided reading is a small-group instructional model. Through guided reading, the teacher supports the development of each student's reading strategies and methods for processing new texts, at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty. Students working in a small group, are directed by the teachers individually, as they interact with text that was specifically selected at their instructional reading level. The teacher targets specific skills, reinforces each student’s reading strategies and methods by providing teaching across the lesson, to support students as they internalize strategic actions and methods for processing increasingly challenging texts. Through guided reading, students learn how to engage in every facet of the reading process and apply literacy skills to all instructional contexts).

In November, all case managers participated in training related to effectively navigating and using our district’s online IEP program, Frontline (IEP Direct). New special education teachers and those requiring a refresher with this program, will participate in this valuable training next week, the second week in November. For December, we are planning to support our elementary co-teacher pairs by providing training related to best practices. More details will come once this training is finalized. At the high school level, teachers continue to work with their general education colleagues to support individual students, while effectively delivering the curriculum.

Mary Cunningham, our district’s Student Assistance Coordinator, will be presenting to SEPAG on December 2nd, from 7:05pm-8:05pm. Her 45-minute presentation will be geared toward identifying, understanding, and responding to “transitional stress” when it is being experienced by students. She will be providing parents with strategies and resources to support students, including students with disabilities, at home. The concluding 15 minutes will be an open discussion around the topic, where parents can engage with Mary Cunningham, in a Question and Answer session. A flyer detailing this presentation will be provided later this month.

As the Director of Special Services, I would like say “thank you” to all the parents who have reached out to me, and/or staff, with questions and/or concerns, over the last few months. The special service department values your feedback and is committed to maintaining good communication with families. Lastly, as the holiday season is upon us, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Take care and be well.

Erin Madara