Welcome Back! News From Special Educaton

Good Evening, Georgetown Community!

Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year, my 7th with the district. I am so proud and privileged to have had the opportunity to serve your children, and that you trust me to do so. Thank you for being so supportive over the years.

We had another amazing summer. At any given time, there were well over 100 students in our buildings, participating in a variety of programs designed to meet unique needs and provided inclusive experiences for all. It was so rewarding to witness all of our students learning and playing together. And none of it would have happened without the dedicated staff members who spent their summers with your amazing children. A special thank you goes to Katelin Kennedy, as always, for her work in designing our programs. The following programming was implemented this summer:

  1. Adventure Camp

Elizabeth Carroll provided a fully integrated camp experience for students at the Penn Brook School. The program ran for 6 weeks, 3 days per week, Tuesday through Thursday, with field trips on Thursdays. Jared Johnson joined the staff this year to provide specific social skills training for students who require it as part of their individual education plans. Students who participated were also able to partake in tutoring opportunities and related services during program hours.

  1. Penn Brook Pals

There were two classrooms set up for Penn Brook Pals this year, one for Preschool and one for grades K & 1. Both classrooms were fully integrated, and ran for 6 weeks, 3 days per week, and 3 hours per day. The focus of the program was to provide students with support for cognitive development, language development, social and emotional skills, and academic strategies. Students had opportunities to explore through art, music, and outdoor play. New this year, there was a specific craft group daily to assist with fine motor skills and creativity.

  1. Penn Brook Reading Academy

This fully integrated program ran for students in grades 2 & 3. The program went for 6 weeks, 3 days per week, 3 hours per day. Students explored summer reading, gained literacy opportunities, and engaged in language development and academic strategies for writing and mathematics. Students in this program had the opportunity to participate in art, music, and outdoor activities, as well as the craft group daily.

  1. Individual & Group Tutorials

Tutoring in mathematics, ELA, and writing was available for students in grades 4 through 12. The student IEP Team specifically determined tutoring services, and all students had to qualify in order to participate. Tutoring was specifically designed to ensure that students maintained academic skills throughout the summer months, and was related to individual goals and objectives.

  1. Counseling, Social Skills, & Speech

Some students with IEPs were dropped off just for services during the summer. Specific skills in the above areas were taught by a speech pathologist and school adjustment counselor to ensure that students maintain skills during the summer months, and are related to individual goals and objectives.

  1. COMPASS (Greenhouse & Sprouts)

There were specific students with more significant disabilities who require sub-separate programming throughout the summer, but had the opportunity to participate in certain integrated opportunities. Students within these programs received related services such as speech, PT, Counseling, and discrete trial training. Older students had opportunities to learn vocational strategies, and life skills such as gardening and cooking. This program ran for 7 weeks, 4 days per week. Students were recommended for either 3 or 5 hours per day depending upon their level of need.

  1. Credit Recovery

For the first time during my tenure with the district, Georgetown Public Schools offered credit recovery programming for students who either were unable to complete a required course or unable to pass it during the year. This was a great opportunity for students to catch up, particularly after the experience of the pandemic. Amanda Colten was present throughout the summer to assist these students in completing necessary assignments to earn the credits to graduate with their peers. This program was fully integrated.

  1. Links

Two years ago, we were able to start the Links program at the High School. This program is specifically designed to help ease a transition back to school for those students who have been absent for long periods of time due to illness or mental health challenges. Amy Sanderson coordinates this program, and provides a safe and therapeutic environment for students to complete assignments and gain the skills and confidence to integrate back into the milieu with their peers. Amy uses art as an outlet for the students within the program, and the students presented their work through a show at the end of the summer. The art show was well attended, and contained the amazing and creative work of its, students.

 

I know that the community joins me in welcoming new special education staff to Georgetown Public Schools:

Nicole Fluet (Compass/1st Grade)

Alexis Early (Elementary Thrive)

Rebecca Hale (Physical Therapist)

Danielle Lamy (School Psychologist)

Sophie Slade (Board Certified Behavior Analyst)

Sara Herman (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant)

 

One of the most difficult outcomes of the pandemic was the closing our integrated preschool for the FY21 School Year. I am so excited to have it up and running again this year! The students are just amazing, and my favorite time of the day is my walk through their classrooms. There have been some changes to the program from the past, and we have hired an entirely new staff. Key members include:

Alli Anthony (Director)

Cathleen McManus (Licensed Practical Nurse)

Kim Real (Teacher)

Alyssa Conley (Teacher)

Donna Robbins (Teacher)

 

Perhaps the most exciting thing happening at this time is the focus of our district goals, and staff professional development. Many of you may recall that when I started here, I stood on the platform that all students should have access to the same curriculum and programming, and should be included in all activities, just as their peers are. I believed, as I have always believed, that every student has strengths to offer to the school community, and we miss out on those strengths if they are segregated during the day. In fact, I stated that schools are the only place where people are segregated from each other. And the truth is that once you are out of school, nobody cares if you have disabilities. Everyone has to coexist.

Whether you agree with my philosophy or not, it should be clear that I have been consistent in my message since day one. Six completed years later, and this has become the focus of the work within the district.

Our work for the foreseeable future will focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Again, working so that ALL students, regardless of ability, disability, race, religion, creed, color, housing status, economic status, native language, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity (I hope I didn’t miss anyone!) have the opportunity to engage, succeed, and feel safe within the school community. This is all about ensuring that everyone feels like they belong at Georgetown Public Schools.

We are starting this journey through three separate, yet strongly connected initiatives, focusing on Universal Design For Learning, Co-Teaching, and Social Justice. As we work through the plans to implement these strategies, I will be certain to update you all on the information. This is a huge endeavor, but one completely worth undertaking. Our children deserve it.

As always, please reach out to me if you think I can be helpful to you and your family in any way. The door is always open. I look forward to another wonderful year, and thank you for all that you do for this community.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Jack