SOMSD Special Services Newsletter

February 2022

Hello SOMSD Family,

Hello parents and guardians,

As I enter my 4th month with the district I am excited to continue to work with our staff to support our students on a daily basis. Looking back, I can hardly believe we are rapidly approaching the 2 year mark since COVID-19 hit our country and brought about major changes in education and our world as we knew it. We have all been through challenging times, which also affected our children and loved ones around us. Our road back to “normal” has been slow, but steady and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite the progress back to what will become our new “normal” various challenges and adjustments still exist along the way. Some of our students continue to face illness and/or quarantining, resulting in short periods of remote learning. This can be disruptive to life at home as well as the structure and engagement of learning for our children. In addition, we are still navigating changing rules and guidance in relation to COVID-19 requiring ongoing flexibility for everyone.

All of these aspects together can cause stress for families. When ill and/or quarantining, children who have been back in school are again stuck in the house together rather than in the classroom or with their friends. Trying to navigate all of the different ongoing information can make it stressful for parents to support their children or for their children to understand the ever-changing parameters of school, social situations and public outings. The following links provide brief articles and lists of information that you may find helpful in some of these situations. In addition, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teachers, case manager, administrators, guidance counselor, nurse or other helpful staff to support you and your child(ren) throughout these days as we transition towards our climb out from under the pandemic and all that it brings to the table when raising children today. We are all here to help you!

  • Click here for “When Siblings Won’t Stop Fighting”

  • Click here for “Help Your Family De-Stress During Coronavirus Uncertainty”

  • Click here for “Coping Strategies”

We continue to send our wishes for a warm, safe and stress free month!

Susie Budine

Assistant Superintendent of Special Services

February Staff Shout Outs!

Ms. Erika Pasco

Mr. Michael Wojcio

Ms. Shannon Colonna

Mr. Phil McCormack

Is there a special education teacher or special services staff member who you would like to recognize? If so, please complete this form so they can be recognized!

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New Jersey Hope and Healing Parent Workshop

Dear SOMSD Community,

Our New Jersey Hope and Healing partners are providing a workshop for all SOMSD families. This workshop is designed to provide strategies on how to cope with pandemic-related stress. This virtual event will be held on Thursday, February 24th from 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm via Zoom. Please view the attached flyer for additional details.

We look forward to your active participation!

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February Meeting: Black Family Voices & Special Education

Wednesday, Feb. 16th, 7:30pm

This is an online event.

Wednesday 2/16 @ 7:30pm:
• Co-hosted by SEPAC SOMA and the Schools Committee of the Community Coalition on Race, our February meeting focus is Black Family Voices and Special Education in the South Orange & Maplewood School District.
• Join us to hear from a panel of community members on this important topic. The panel will share their experiences in special education, covering preschool to high school and beyond, as well as inclusion, self-contained and out-of-district placements.
• As always, we'll have time at the end for general questions, discussion and support.

Connections Matter Training

On February 15th and 16th from 10 -Noon, Prevent Child Abuse NJ & NJDCF will offer "Connections Matter," a healing-centered curriculum that teaches adults how to use the power of connection to help develop health brains and supportive relationships, prevent and heal from Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs), and strengthen communities.

This free training is available to adults who work and/or live in Essex County. Please spread word of this important resource and register using the attached flier. ACE Impact Team Member Jillian Faulks is the lead contact --

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Preschool Program Newsletter

Greetings South Orange and Maplewood Preschool Families!

Please take a moment to check out our Preschool Newsletter for the month of February. It's filled with great community resources and engagement opportunities that all families may benefit from. We invite you to participate and join in on the fun and learning.

Stay tuned for our preschool registration update during the month of March!

Dates to Remember

February 1:

  • 4-Hr Day; K-12 Students ONLY (PD for staff)
  • 3-Hr Day; Pre-K Students ONLY (PD for staff)

February 21:

  • President’s Day—District Closed