Together We Can
October 3, 2022
Fall has definitely arrived! But where did September go? It seems like we just started school, but by the way the students have dug into their work and fun, it is obvious we are well in to the school year. It is always so energizing to see your students learning and sharing what they know.
On September 22, there was a special education update provided to the Board of Education. I encourage you to view the recorded PowerPoint presentation so that you can hear about the great things the SESS Office has planned this school year.
I would also like to introduce our district-wide specialists below. These staff members work PreK through 12th grade as well as in our transition program supporting students, staff, and families throughout the District. We are so lucky to have them as resources.
Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.
Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports
Meet Our District Wide Specialists
Ms. White is the assistive technology specialist. As the AT specialist, she supports general and special education teams across town with devices, resources, and trainings to ensure and enhance access to curriculum for all students. Ms. White has been a member of the Greenwich Public Schools community for 11 years. She is a certified special educator and has her Master’s of Education in Aural Habilitation/Deaf Education. Ms. White is also a nationally certified auditory-verbal educator and has extensive experience with assistive technology.
Ms. Mulhearn is the district-wide social worker. She provides support to parents across the district from PreK through high school, offering information about available community resources, participates in PPT's as a parent support, provides education on strategies caregivers can implement to support their children, and works to ensure that all essential needs are met (i.e. mental health, finances, shelter, food, clothing, and more). Ms. Mulhearn also represent GPS on a number of committees, including: Greenwich Community Health, Improvement Partnership (GCHIP), Interagency Team (IAT), Greenwich Together and the Horizons Admission Team.
Ms. Rubin is GPS's new inclusion specialist. After graduating with her bachelor's degree in Childhood Education and master's degree in Literacy, she began her career as a literacy coordinator working for the Harlem Children's Zone. Shortly after that, Rachel shifted to the role of third grade teacher in a co-taught classroom in Bridgeport. From there, Rachel went back to New York, this time as a literacy specialist for grades 2-8. During her last year in New York, she was asked to teach sixth grade (all subjects!) and happily obliged. When the opportunity to come back to Connecticut presented itself, Ms. Rubin transitioned to the role of dean of special services for a charter high school. In this role, Rachel did everything from co-teach 12th grade ELA, to case management, to coaching teachers, to designing and managing intervention programs, and facilitating professional development. Moving to the high school was a full circle moment for her, as in the fall of 2020, many of the incoming ninth graders had been in Ms. Rubin's class back in third grade. She is grateful to have joined GPS's special education and student supports team and looks forward to making a positive impact throughout the district.
Ms. Frankemolle is the teacher of the visually impaired. She provides direct service and support to students, families, and teachers. Besides working with her inspiring students, she also provided consultation services specific to vision loss to school-based teams across the District. This is Ms. Frankemolle's fourth year at Greenwich Public Schools. Prior to GPS, she worked as a TVI, special educator, and administrator in private schools in New York City. Her educational background includes a BFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Art, a MS in Special Education from Hunter College, and post graduate work in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. One of her favorite quotes is: “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” - Jonathan Swift.
Ms. Palmiero-Sampel has taught in Connecticut for the past 25 years as a teacher of the deaf as well as a special education teacher. Prior to coming to the Nutmeg State, she taught at the NY School for the Deaf. Ms. Sampel is certified in elementary education (N-6), special education (N-12), hearing-impaired (N-12) and is fluent in American Sign Language. Ms. Sampel shared, "I strive to build students’ self-confidence, self-advocacy skills, reach their learning potential, and attain their goals. I am looking forward to being a member of the GPS team and helping all children succeed."
What We Are Seeing 👀 Around the Schools
Ms. Yates' North Street School PreK class is using everyday objects to create ramps for racing cars and balls.
Ms. Danielle's PreK class at Julian Curtis class has a helper signaling her friends to "stop" and "clean up."
Leadership and Teamwork at Eastern Middle School
The entire seventh grade at Eastern Middle School had mountain workshop. Here, they are working on teambuilding, critical thinking, and problem solving skills while having fun. Lots of leadership was shown by the students!
Community Connections trip to Cos Cob Park
Workshops and Resources
CT SEDS for IEP and 504's
IEP and 504 documents now have a different look. The new CT-SEDS system is now being used for all IEPs and 504s. The SESS Department has put together resources to families as we work in the new system. Please pay special attention to the Parent Portal as it is a new way IEP and 504 documents can be viewed and signed.
Special Education Support (SES) PTAC
PTAC is a volunteer organization comprised of all 15 school PTAs in the Greenwich Public School system; membership includes parents, teachers, and staff. The purpose of PTAC is to promote a healthy working relationship and an open line of communication between home and school.
Currently the SES PTAC is still looking for representatives for Greenwich High, Western Middle, Hamilton Avenue, New Lebanon, and Parkway schools. If you are interested, please contact SES PTAC at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC)
The Greenwich Special Education Advisory Council (Greenwich SEAC) is thrilled to begin its third year. For those unfamiliar with the Greenwich SEAC, our purpose is to build equitable partnerships between families, the school District and community partners, and also give advisory opinions to the Board of Education on matters pertaining to the education and safety of students with disabilities. The Greenwich SEAC is a parent-driven council composed of 21 Voting Members and 4 Alternate Members including parents, teachers, related service providers, administrators and community members.
The Greenwich SEAC also has a General Membership that is open to any interested GPS parent or guardian of a child with a disability, previously known to have a disability, or suspected of having a disability, under the IDEA or Section 504, or who is currently eligible to receive Special Education or 504 accommodations and services, from ages 3-21, and who are both residents of the Town of Greenwich. General Members can attend and participate in meetings as well as serve on subcommittees.
If you have any questions, please reach out to SEAC at email@example.com.
ENTER THE LOTTERY TO BE A VOTING MEMBER
We currently have 6 open positions on the council: 1 Parent Voting Member, 1 Related Service Provider Voting Member, 2 Parent Alternate Members and 2 Teacher Alternate Members. If you are interested in filling one of these vacancies, please submit an application, found here. We will hold a lottery on October 19th at 2:00pm, link and details are in the application.
JOIN A SUBCOMMITTEE
We have also recently chosen our subcommittee areas of focus for the year, and are looking for community involvement and input. You can learn more and sign up for any of the subcommittees by clicking on the following links: Consistency Among Schools, Interventions for Students with Challenging Behaviors, Nominating and Enrichment. Here is the link to last year’s annual report, presented to the BOE, to give you a better understanding of what we do in our committees.
The Office of Special Education and Student Supports
Location: 290 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT
Phone: (203) 625-7493