November 2017

November 22, 2017

Dear Members Of The Georgetown Community:

Last night I had the privilege of speaking with your Georgetown SEPAC. The topic was simply “Catching Up With Jack Tiano”. So I took the opportunity to discuss my vision for special education services and programming for Georgetown Public Schools, and to summarize the work currently being done to reach that vision.

Last year I basically set two significant goals. The first was to develop a successful entry plan within the district that included getting to know students, staff, families, and the community as a whole. You can all be the judge, but I feel that I was successful in this area, and was able to get a feel for the district in a short period of time. The second goal was an even larger undertaking. It is important to me that I be able to have a positive impact on the culture within our schools.

When I began my work in Georgetown during the summer of 2016, I tried to open my doors to families, to obtain information on the things that they found challenging about the special education department. Overwhelmingly, the number one concern among families was a lack of trust. Families did not trust the administration and faculty, and felt that they needed to fight for every service for their children.

Hopefully, you have all learned that this is not acceptable to me. Everyone within the department has heard me say that our job involves customer service, and that I expect all of our students to receive the services and programming that they need to be successful.

We are also focusing on becoming better communicators. Many families feel that they do not get enough information from teachers about the progress of their children. Again, I suspect that many of you are seeing positive changes in this area, and feel like a welcomed part of the process.

In the coming year, I have set a goal for myself to provide more information to our families and community about the programs and services that are available to students within Georgetown Public Schools. By the end of this school year, I intend to produce a document that explains the entire special education process from initial referral to transitioning into adulthood. This document will include descriptions of programming from pre-school until age 22.

In order to continue to provide exceptional services to your children, I need to have exemplary staff, who understand specific disabilities and content area curriculum. I am so fortunate to made incredible hires this year. They are:

Christine Campbell – School Psychologist

Sherry Roy – Kolthof – COTA

Juliana Reinold – Speech Pathologist

Lauren DiPaulo – Grades K – 2 Special Education Teacher

Molly Burr – Sprouts Teacher

Eric McCarthy – High School Compass Teacher

Nicole Parker – 7th Grade Special Education Teacher

They have all brought excellent experience, a positive attitude, and a passion for your children to Georgetown Public Schools.

In my last few posts, I have specifically written about MCAS, and my belief that students with disabilities are not performing to my expectations. People who have spoken with me know my passion for including all students with disabilities in the general education setting. This is not only for socialization and a feeling of belonging, but also to ensure that they are receiving academic instruction in the core content areas from the experts. I feel that when students are pulled from the classroom to work separately with a special educator, they lose that feeling of community, feel differently, and lose a connection to what is being taught in the general education setting.

We must set high academic expectations for our students. We cannot expect them to perform grade level tasks and on state-wide tests if they do not receive the same content and instruction as their nondisabled peers. Although it will take time, resources, and planning, my long range goal is to implement a strong co-taught model at Georgetown Public Schools. In conversations with many of you, you seem to agree with this vision.

There is so much too talk about from last night, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the significant concern about ALICE training in our schools. I was unaware of the amount of anxiety this was causing for our families. I feel like we came up with a strong solution to this dilemma by providing ALICE training for parents as well, so that they can reinforce these discussions at home. I will be bringing this to Superintendent Jacobs for her consideration next fall.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone again for making me feel so welcomed and comfortable within the Georgetown community. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. I wish all of you and your families a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving Holiday.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Jack Tiano

Director of Student Services