Together We Can
October 25, 2021
I'm so pleased to share that the new Special Education Procedures and Practices Manual has been completed. This manual is a culmination of hard work from administrators, teachers, related service staff, and parents in partnership with the Special Education Resource Center (SERC) and Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE).
Staff training has already begun and parent training will be upcoming. I look forward to continued collaboration between stakeholder groups in supporting our students with disabilities.
Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.
Interim Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports
Meet Our Preschool Intake Team
Beth Forger has brought compassion, expertise, and a deep love of young learners to the Preschool Team for 31 of her 33 years working at Greenwich Public Schools. She holds a dual certification in general education and special education as well as a master's in early childhood special education. In her current role as a special education instructional coach, Ms. Forger provides ongoing support and collaborative planning to each classroom team. Using the Connecticut Early Learning Standards, positive behavioral supports, specialized instruction, IEP development, and differentiation for all students, she ensures that all learners are getting the supports they need to be successful. Ms. Forger also supports families throughout Greenwich as a parent educator in both public and private preschools. She hosts monthly parent chat workshops and discussions, offering resources and strategies to encourage peaceful parenting at home. Her expertise in early childhood is evident in her work with teachers, families, and especially our youngest learners.
Lori Costa, a speech language pathologist, has been a member of Greenwich Public Schools preschool community for the past 15 years. Ms. Costa is passionate about supporting the District’s youngest learners as she has dedicated her career to the birth-to-five population. She began her work in the preschool program providing speech/language intervention for students, clinic based and within the integrated preschool classrooms. In her current capacity as intake and birth-to-three coordinator for the preschool intake team, Ms. Costa supports, collaborates, and consults with incoming families, birth-to-three team members, community preschools and GPS’s own classroom teachers and staff. Ms. Costa’s voice is the first a parent hears when referred to the school district and she prides herself on operating with grace and empathy for all students, parents, and staff. As such, Ms. Costa ensures that children remain the priority of the special education referral process. She holds a master's degree in communication sciences and disorders and state licenses in New York and Connecticut.
Sabrina Motta joined the preschool team in September 2016. Ms. Motta holds a master's in speech-language pathology and feels a great passion and love for the work she does with the students and families. Ms. Motta works to build capacity with the professional assistants within Greenwich Public Schools and with the community preschools in Greenwich. She also collaborates with the Family Centers classrooms. This work is guided by the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards, typical speech-language development, and Powerful Interactions. Ms. Motta also spearheaded the GPS Listening Community. The Listening Community was created for parents of children with special needs and is a place for parents to connect and support other parents.
What We Are Seeing 👀 Around the Schools
Speech and Language at New Lebanon
During a recent session at New Lebanon School, Speech and Language Therapist Ms. Planchart-Becher was targeting the students' narrative language skills and their ability to make inferences and answer "Why" and "How" questions using evidence (contextual clues) embedded in the event pictures.
The students were prompted to organize seven event pictures in chronological order and then tell an oral narrative based on the event pictures. After that, the clinician prompted them to answer "Why" questions about the situations depicted in the event cards ("Why is there a white dog in the bathtub now?") and asked them to justify their answers by answering contingent "How" questions (e.g. "How did you know that the white dog and the black dog were the same dog?).
Reading at Old Greenwich Elementary School
Old Greenwich School's Literacy Specialist Sandra Zuccarello, M.S. Ed provided an Orton Gillingham lesson that followed a trip to Vowel Valley, where students learned about the "voiced" sound of a short o, their objective for the day. Students felt their throats to experience "the cool vibrations." They swiftly moved on to the daily card drill where they were asked to identify and spell the sounds of letters presented one at a time as they wrote them on their white board table. Students applied their new learning by reading word lists and then a decodable text to support their new learning of short o. They were excited to know they would be writing words in their new notebooks during the next session. Ms. Zuccarello loves second grade!
Western Middle School
Ms. McEneaney’s sixth grade reading class is currently working on vowels. The unit began with students determining what letters are vowels versus consonants. The class then worked on short and long vowel sounds. Currently, students are working on identifying the difference in long and short vowel words in isolation and within a text. For ‘Fun Friday,’ students completed a game of bingo which included both long and short vowel words.
Professional Assistants at Greenwich High School
October is Bullying Awareness Month
Workshops and Resources
Upcoming Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) Meeting November 9th
The purpose of the Greenwich Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) is to build full, equal and equitable partnerships between families, GPS and community partners, on a council that gives advisory opinions to the Board of Education on matters pertaining to the education and safety of students with disabilities.
General membership 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 3-22, and who are both residents of the Town of Greenwich.
If you would like to be part of the Greenwich SEAC's general membership, please complete this short form to add your email to the distribution list.
🆕 Special Education Procedures & Practices Manual
The Greenwich Public Schools Special Education Procedures and Practices Manual has been developed to provide educators and parents with specific information about the procedures utilized by the school district to provide special education and related services to children eligible for special education.
Greenwich Youth Survey 2021
Greenwich Together released the results of their Greenwich Youth Survey 2021 as it relates to children at GPS and other schools in our town. We encourage you to watch and listen to the PowerPoint presentation by Prevention Coordinator Ellen Brezovsky because it touches so many topics that touch our families, including academic pressures, mental/emotional health issues, and substance usage.
Greenwich Together is a council made up of 31 Greenwich social service, educational, governmental, medical, law enforcement, religious and civic organizations united in the mission to mobilize youth, parents and community partners to prevent substance misuse, promote behavioral and mental health and strengthen healthy choices through positive youth, family, and community development. They use data to plan and implement actions that promote healthy choices.
Occupational Therapy Sessions at North Street that you can try at home!
Pumpkin Dot Art
Dot art activities are great for dot markers, but there are other activities to do with them as well! You can use coins, pompoms, or stickers to place in the designated areas. This targets fine motor skills. Also using Playdoh to roll into small balls works on some bilateral coordination skills.
GPS Listening Community
The Listening Community was created for parents of children with special needs. It is a place for parents to connect and support other parents.
The meetings are currently conducted virtually and will be held as follows:
- Wednesday mornings from 9:30-10:30 AM
- Wednesday evenings from 6:00-7:00 PM
The Google Meet link will remain the same for each session:
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/yof-adsn-cfz
Welcome to our Listening Community is a great newsletter to subscribe to.