Category Archives: Uncategorized

January 2019

January 28, 2019

Dear Members Of The Georgetown Community:

It is so amazing that we have made it through the halfway point of another school year. I don’t want to be a jinx, but we have gotten through January without a snow day. I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

In my last update, I informed the community that Walker Partnerships was conducting a review of all special education programming and services available through Georgetown Public Schools. That review is complete, and I have posted a copy of their final report for your reading pleasure. Additionally, I have put a copy of the power point shown to the school committee on January 10, 2019. That power point presentation essentially summarizes information from the report.

There is a virtual plethora of information in the report discussing the good work being done by our staff, as well as the challenges that continue to face administration regarding programming. I will leave you to come to your own conclusions, but I will say that my biggest takeaway revolves around the lack of trust and confidence that parents continue to have in the services and supports being provided by the special education departments.

In my 2+ years at Georgetown, I have spent a considerable amount of time looking to change the culture within this district. It is clear to me that there is still much work to be done in this area. But I couldn’t imagine more important and satisfying work. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful community.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Jack Tiano

Director of Student Services

Peace, Hope, and Love For The Holidays

Dear Members Of The Georgetown Community,

As we reach the end of another calendar year, the vast majority of us are rushing around, picking up last minute gifts, and searching for that one present that is guaranteed to bring a smile.  If you’re like me, you are going frantic trying to wrap for 5 kids, friends, and family.  It can be quite tiresome.

So, my wish to all of you is that you are able to find some down time, and relax during this most special time of year.  This is the one time of year when the entire world celebrates love and life.  I hope you all find time to enjoy it.

I, for one, am truly blessed.  Blessed to have a loving family filled with children of all ages.  And blessed to be a part of this wonderful community of Georgetown.  May the Holiday Season bring only happiness and joy to you and your loved ones.  May peace, love, and prosperity follow you always.

Oh, and don’t forget…It’s all fun and games until Santa checks the naughty list.  Let’s hope he wasn’t paying close attention to us this year! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your lives, and to care for your children.  Here’s to a fabulous 2019!

All My Best,

Jack

Parent Survey

Dear members of the Georgetown community:

The department of student services at Georgetown Public Schools has engaged with Walker Consulting to conduct a review of our programming and services for students with special needs. As part of this review, I would like to get your input as to what is currently working well, and what services could use improvement. Please participate in the survey by following the attached link. The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. Please complete by December 10th so that your answers can be included in the forthcoming report. I thank you for your willingness to work with the department, and very much value your thoughts and input.  The link to the survey is

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfG0Xf_LV3WYI77GU4XjOMK_tsmeorTezjn2rxPrXHHSX2lyA/viewform

Sincerely & Respectfully,

Jack Tiano

Director of Student Services

Walker Partnerships To Conduct Special Education Program Evaluation

November 12, 2018

Dear Members Of The Georgetown Community:

I am writing to inform you that Walker Partnerships is in the process of conducting a review of all special education programming and services available through Georgetown Public Schools. This review is being conducted at the District’s request.

As part of their evaluation, personnel from Walker Partnerships will be onsite on both November 15th at Perley and Penn Brook Elementary, and November 19th at the Middle High School. During those two days, they will meet with staff, conducting interviews and observing our services. They will also have a focus group for parents on each day. Elementary parents will meet on the 15th at the Penn Brook School from 2:30 to 3:30. Parents of students in the Middle High School will meet there on the 19th from 2:00 to 3:00.

Please know that I completely understand that the timing may not work for many of you. Walker Partnerships has much to see in only two days, so scheduling was not an easy task.

If you have interest in participating in one of the focus groups, you can contact Tom Stewart through the SEPAC. You can also reach out to me at (978) 352-5777 x. 100 or via email at tianoj@georgetown.k12.ma.us. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

 

Jack Tiano

Director of Student Services

SEPAC Publishes Training Schedule For 2018-2019!

2018-2019 SEPAC
Meeting & Workshop Schedule

Meeting & Gathering
Thursday 9/7/17 – 6:30 PM – 7:45 PM
at Flatbreads Pizza, Georgetown, MA

Social Cognition: Self Awareness, Self- Regulation  and Social Problems Solving

Pamela Ely, MS, CCC-SLP

Tuesday 10/9/18 – 6:45 PM-7:45 PM

La Grange Hall, 22 Pleasant Street Georgetown

Trick or Trunk Fundraiser

Saturday 10/13/2018

3:45 PM – 5:00 PM

Penn Brook School, Georgetown

ALICE Training

GPD Safety Officer Henry Olshefsky

Wednesday 11/7/18    6:45PM-7:45 PM

Georgetown Peabody Library

2 Maple Street, Georgetown

Basic Rights Workshop

Laurel Collins, M Ed– Educational Advocate
Tuesday 11/13/18 – 6:45PM-7:45 PM

La Grange Hall, 22 Pleasant Street Georgetown

Beyond Basic Rights

Attorney Daniel Perlman
Tuesday 12/11/18 – 6:45PM-7:45 PM
Georgetown Peabody Library

2 Maple Street, Georgetown

Neuroscience of Reading

Nadine Gaab, Ph D
Tuesday January 8, 2019

6:45 PM-7:45 PM
Georgetown Peabody Library

2 Maple Street, Georgetown

Coordinating Your Special Needs

Financial and Estate Plan

Caleb Harty- CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™-Harty Financial

Tuesday 2/12/2019 – 6:45 PM-7:45 PM

Georgetown Peabody Library

2 Maple Street, Georgetown

Understanding Dyslexia in the Context of Developmental Language Disorders

Tiffany Hogan, Ph D, CCC-SLP
Tuesday 3/12/2019  – 6:45PM-7:45 PM
Georgetown Peabody Library

2 Maple Street, Georgetown

Anatomy of a Special Education Case

Attorney Tim Sindelar

Tuesday 4/9/2019 – 6:45 PM-7:45 PM

Georgetown Peabody Library

2 Maple Street, Georgetown

Functional Behavioral Assessments and Behavioral Plans: An Overview

Allyssa Schuettner, MS, BCBA

Brittany Carvalho, MS,  BCBA

Wednesday 4/24/19- 6:45 PM-7:45 PM
Penn Brook School

68 Elm Street, Georgetown

Is Guardianship the Only Option?  A Discussion about Guardianship and the Many Alternatives
Attorney Hillary J. Dunn, Esq.

Disability Law Center
www.dlc-ma.org

Tuesday 5/14/19 – 6:45 PM-7:45 PM
Georgetown Peabody Library

2 Maple Street, Georgetown

Shining Star Awards

Wednesday 5/22/19

6:30 PM-7:45 PM

Jeff and Marias Ice Cream

918 Salem Street, Groveland

ALICE Training

Safety Officer Henry Olshefsky

Tuesday 6/11/2019 – 6:45 PM-7:45 PM

Georgetown Peabody Library

2 Maple Street, Georgetown

SEPAC Announces It’s Shining Stars!

Shining Star Awards – 2018

Once again, the SEPAC did an amazing job bringing the community together, and presenting their Shining Star Awards to those individuals who went above and beyond during the 2017-2018 school year to support special education.  This year’s winners follow…

 

Megan Kelley, Teacher

Ms. Meghan Kelley has been an exceptional special education teacher as she goes above and beyond assisting children academically as well as emotionally.  One child refers to Ms. Kelley as being ‘magical’ as she is supportive and utilizes empathy and understanding in what can be the most challenging of circumstances. A parent stated “My child has come so far with his academics, which we are so incredibly proud of but more importantly, our child is happy and confident in school work as well as improving relationships with peers.  We are incredibly grateful to have our child in her care…………… It means so much to us to have peace of mind knowing he is in Ms. Kelley’s hands.”  A child shared this “I’m so excited for you to receive this award. I’m so proud and grateful for you because you’re a good teacher to me by helping me learn and understand when I am struggling. Thank you for being magical!”

Cathy DeWitt, Librarian

Cathy DeWitt is the Children’s Librarian at the Georgetown Peabody Library.  Cathy DeWitt has been so kind to reach out and ask individual parents, even after children have a difficult moment in the library, if there was anything she could do to help support the child or the family.  Even when a child has struggled with issues at events which others are attending, all of the children were felt welcome, included, and, valued as participants. Cathy also went above and beyond by consulting with an Occupational Therapist when setting up the children’s work/craft space in the library to make sure it was appropriate to encourage writing and coloring at all developmental levels.  Cathy is constantly bringing great programs to our community.

Georgetown is fortunatey to have a professional children’s librarian who is so empathetic, accepting greeting children with a smile every time children and families visit the library.

Molly Burr, Teacher

Molly Burr is a very dedicated Special Education Teacher who teaches the Sprouts program at the Penn Brook School.  Molly is passionate about supporting and helping children grow and develop while working hard to keep the children engaged while creating a fun atmosphere to learn.  Molly creates great programs for each child and makes the Sprouts program a positive learning experience for all.

Krystin Bono, Teacher at Futures

Ms. Krystin is always upbeat and cheerful, which creates a positive environment for children and adults while making a lasting impression on each and every child.  Ms. Krystin is patient and kind always taking the time to inform parents about a child’s experience at the end of the day.  Ms. Krystin fosters friendships, independence, fun and is instrumental in the development of children.  Families who have the privilege of working with Ms. Krystin can never express enough gratitude.

Joe Pitella, Teacher

Mr Pitella has truly been a shining star in the lives of many children.  Mr. Pitella sees beyond the adolescent exterior and is able to find the strengths of the children in his classroom.  Mr. Pitella, a talented teacher, is able to assist in building off each and every child’s strengths while challenging each student to grow. One parent has stated, “Mr. Pitella looks past the  tough exterior of our child who just wanted to be accepted for who she is……….from the bottom of our hearts, we are thankful.”

Crossing Guard Joe

Crossing Guard Joe from the Perley School keeps children and families safe while crossing North St.  Mr. Joe has always takes the time to engage special education children in conversation- even when if a child is unable to adequately respond due to a disabling condition.  Crossing Guard Joe has built many positive relationships over the years.  Children often miss Crossing Guard Joe when they transition from the Perley to the Penn Brook School.

Safety Officer Henry Olshefsky

Safety Officer Henry Olshefsky was the first professional in the Georgetown community to embrace the concept of what is now the SEPAC’s Annual Trick of Trunk fundraiser.  Officer Olshefsky has provided his professionalism as well as behind the scenes guidance and support in the planning and implementation of the annual SEPAC Trick or Trunk fundraiser. The money raised from the annual Trick or Trunk event allows the SEPAC to give back to the Special Education community.  Georgetown is fortunate to have Safety Officer Olshefsky in our community.  The SEPAC thanks and looks forward to future collaboration with Safety Officer Olshelfsky in the future.

Senator Barbara L’Italien

Senator Barbara LÍtalien is a champion for Special Education children and families.  Senator LÍtalien reaches out and listens to all members of the Special Education community. A constituent once offered Senator LÍatlien an idea that has turned into proposed legislation for all children in Massachusetts to be screened for Dyslexia.  Senator LÍtalien authored the most specific and thorough bill with regard to Dyslexia screening.  Senator L’Italien, a parent of a child who has managed disabling conditions, has worked tirelessly for all children and families in Massachusetts.  We thank and honor this State Senator for the multitude of contributions to children and families throughout the Commonwealth and beyond by presenting this Shining Star Award.

Karrah Briley, LICSW

Karrah Briley, LICSW works with great care, professionalism, thoroughness and thoughtfulness with students of the school district.  Ms. Briley is a highly trained and conducts herself in a very professional manner.  Students feel comfortable and safe with Ms. Briley while developing a trusting therapeutic relationship. Ms. Briley is responsible for the care and treatment of a large number of students in Georgetown and handles these responsibilities in a professional manner.  Ms. Briley is respectful towards children, parents and professionals alike.

 

I would like to personally thank the SEPAC board, membership, and especially Tom Stewart and Chantel Pszenny for all of their work this year.  There is so much value added as a result of their hard work and efforts.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Jack Tiano

Director of Student Services

July 2018

July 22, 2018

Dear Members Of The Georgetown Community:

It has been awhile since I have written.  Life is so busy both personally and professionally. Please know that I appreciate the thoughts that many of you have sent to me.  Also know that I am here and available all summer should you need to chat.

So much has happened in the past few months.  Once again, Georgetown saw an end to a successful school year.  Graduation was wonderful, even though it was so hard saying goodbye to Principal Lucia. I only had the opportunity to work with him for a short period, but I am so grateful for our time together.  He taught me so much about the Georgetown community, the workings of the system, and best practices for educating middle and high school students.  Most importantly, I have a plethora of respect for his commitment to children and leadership within the district.  Peter, you will be sorely missed.  Enjoy your retirement.

We also had to say goodbye to our assistant principal at the Middle High School, Heidi Mongeau.  Shortly after spending some time with Mrs. Mongeau, it was obvious to me that we shared a common philosophy in the education of our children.  She believes in educating the whole child. She believes that the way to have an impact on student learning is through relationship building, and does so with a strong presence and positive programming and interventions.  I am sure you all join me in wishing her the best in her new challenges working within the Triton School District.

Even though the district will need some time to recover from these losses, change is a good thing.  And our new principal, Dan Richards, has so much to offer.  He is an experienced educator and administrator, and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and a caring and empathetic ear to Georgetown.  In early conversations with Mr. Richards, he has demonstrated a passion towards social emotional learning, and a willingness to partner with me to implement strategies and interventions throughout the school.  I am very much looking forward to beginning our work together.

The end of the school year is always busy and challenging, wrapping up one year and planning for the next.  Early preparation for our summer camps and tutoring has proven beneficial, and the first few weeks of programming went off without a hitch. This year, we were able to reach even more students, adding students entering grade 2 to the Penn Brook Camp.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Georgetown community for their support of the school budget.  It was nice to see the community band together to provide for our students. I am proud to say that the special education finances have come in under budget for my first two years in the district. In fact, FY18 was the first time in ten years that the district didn’t need to freeze the budget.  It just goes to show that all students can be successfully educated in our schools with a little creativity and a lot of hard work and effort from our staff.

I hope you all find some time to enjoy this summer. Stay safe and stay happy.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Jack Tiano

Director of Student Services

April 2018

April 6, 2017

Dear Members Of The Georgetown Community:

It has been a little while since I posted on the website. With all of the snow days and MCAS, and everything else going on, I just can’t believe we are in April.  But I also can’t believe that I am looking out my window on April 6thand it is snowing.  🙁

You may have heard that one person’s challenges lead to another’s happiness.  This couldn’t prove more true regarding recent circumstances at the Middle High School. Kris Oldoni, Special Education Coordinator, recently underwent shoulder surgery.  He is resting comfortably, but he has obviously missed time at work, making him sorely missed.  As a result, I have spent much more time at the Middle High School, giving me more opportunities to speak with staff and students.  I have been facilitating all of the meetings in his stead.  This has given me the chance to meet many parents and families that I would not have if Mr. Oldoni had not been injured.  It has just been a wonderful experience for me. Kris’ pain is my gain!  I’m sure you all join me in wishing him a speedy recovery!

At the last SEPAC Meeting in March, our speech pathologists for the district presented to our parents.  Amy Frangules, Julianna Reinold, Lisa Bartholomew, and Stacey Vitale did an amazing job of informing parents about what happens when their children attending speech therapy services.  A copy of their presentation can be found under the related services tab on the Student Services Webpage at Georgetown Public Schools.

Work is now being done to prepare for summer school services.  Each year, I plan to make improvements to our summer programming in order to ensure that students do not significantly regress in their skill sets.  Your opinions are always important to me, so feel free to reach out with your thoughts and ideas regarding these services.

I so much look forward to seeing you all at our schools, and continuing to lead our district in the support of your children.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

 

Jack Tiano

Director of Student Services

January 2018

January 31, 2018

Dear Members Of The Georgetown Community:

The holidays are over (and hopefully the snow), and everyone is back into the routine of teaching, coaching, and learning. Much has happened since I last posted. Seeing that we are smack dab in the middle of budget season, I will start with an audit of special education grants that I endured earlier in the month. The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education audited two grants, the IDEA Grant and the Program Improvement Grant, for compliance over three days. I am happy to report that there were no findings, and all money was spent as it should have been.

Your SEPAC has been extremely busy. It began its training series focusing on struggling readers. There have been two workshops thus far, and all reports are that they have been informative and well attended. Another workshop was offered on knowing your rights under special education law. Although attendance wasn’t as strong for this particular training, those who were there learned lots about the special education process. Lastly, the SEPAC celebrated their achievements at a holiday gathering. As always, there was plenty of good cheer!

Katelin Kennedy and Amanda Harding attended a meeting with EI (Early Intervention) leadership, along with administrators from several other school districts. Everyone had the opportunity to discuss how to make the transition from EI to Pre-School more cohesive, and each side was able to talk about ways of improving programming for our youngest students. On the other end of the spectrum, a team of special education personnel attended a two – day workshop on improving transition planning for students moving on to further their education, or into the work force. The team reported back on lots of new strategies, and how they can better partner with students, parents, and outside agencies to make this a successful endeavor for all involved.

I had the opportunity to meet with members of the Autism Commission, hosted by CREST Collaborative. I am thrilled to say that I learned about several new resources for students on the autism spectrum, and I collected a significant amount of information that I can share with parents.

We have been extremely busy this past month, evaluating teachers and programs, completing the budget process, and, believe it or not, preparing for summer school and the 2018 – 2019 school year. As always, I appreciate your thoughts and input, so feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

 

Jack Tiano

Director of Student Services

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