Together We Can

The Office of Special Education and Student Supports

Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year

We are so excited for the start of the 2021-2022 school year! Our staff is ready to go!

We are expecting big changes in the coming days, weeks, months and years, and what better way to start than with a new name. Our department at Greenwich Public Schools will now be known as The Office of Special Education and Student Supports. It might seem a little familiar, but we think it clearly states our focus. We are looking forward to rejuvenation and exciting beginnings

As many of you know, the PCG report was shared out to the Board in late June, and since then, the department has been working hard to move forward implementing the recommendations. I encourage all of you to read the PCG report and watch the July 27 Board meeting that can be found on the GPS website.

I am very excited to be here with a great team at Greenwich Public Schools to do this exciting work. Please continue to read our newsletter, that will be sent out every two weeks. To start, I would like you to meet our District Special Education and Student Supports Team.

Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.

Dr. Stacey Heiligenthaler

Stacey is the new interim Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports. Stacey is an educator and administrator with over 25 years of experience in the Public School system. She has B.A. in Psychology, B.S. in Intensive Special Needs, M.A. in Human development, M.L.S. in Legal Studies, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Systems. Stacey has worked as a teacher, inclusion specialist, and administrator.

Carrie Borcherding

Carrie is the Special Education Administrator for Central MS, Eastern MS, Western MS, Glenville and Parkway. Carrie has worked in Greenwich for the last six years, previously teaching in Washington and Florida. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, holds a MS Ed. and a Certificate of Educational Leadership.

Diane Chiappetta-Fox

Diane is the Program Administrator for Windrose, GHS's Alternative High School, Homebound Tutoring, and 9-12 Out-of-District placements. Diane is a Greenwich native and has been working at Greenwich High School for over 25 years, first as a Speech and Language Pathologist, then Director of Students Activities, Assistant Dean. She is a GHS graduate, class of '87.

Krystina Dawson

Krystina is the Special Education Coordinator for Greenwich HS and Community Connections. She started at GPS as a school psychologist at GHS and has also served as Interim Assistant Principal at North Mianus. Krystina most recently was the supervisor of the district evaluation teams, behavior support teams, BCBAs, professional development, and out of district placements.

Amy DeNicola-Hickman

Amy is the Special Education Coordinator for Pre-K - 5 at Hamilton Avenue, North Street, New Lebanon and Old Greenwich. Amy is an educator with more than 25 years of experience. She holds a BS in Elementary Education, an MS in Early Childhood Education, an MS in Special Education and has completed an advanced certification in School Administration. She previously worked at Julian Curtis and Greenwich High School.

Matthew Hartigan

Matthew is the Program Administrator for K-8 out of district students, as well a private schools, and district compliance monitoring. He has been in the Special Education Department at Greenwich Public Schools since 2009. He has worked at the ARCH Alternative High School, Western Middle School, Greenwich High School and the Board of Education.

Mary Keller, RN, MPH

Mary Keller, RN, MPH, has been with the Greenwich Public schools since 2000, first as school nurse at Parkway, then Central Middle School, and at Greenwich High School. Currently as the District Nursing Supervisor since 2014, Mary is responsible for the daily operation and supervision of the 16 Public Schools and 1 Private Health Services Programs. She combines her love of children with her public health experience and is committed to the health and well-being of the students and families in this community.

Judy Nedell

Judy is based at Greenwich High School. She is the Program Coordinator for School Counselors in grades 6 through 12. In addition, Judy is also the District Director for the AVID Program and the Section 504 Coordinator. Judy also partners with the Greenwich Alliance for Education to provide AVID SUCCESS programs to the AVID students and their families.

Karen Vitti

Karen is the Special Education Coordinator for Julian Curtis, North Mianus, Cos Cob, ISD, and Riverside. She is a certified teacher in both General Ed and Special Ed and has her masters in School District Administration. This will be her 16th year at GPS.

PCG Report

This summer, The Office of Special Education and Student Supports has been working on reviewing, planning and implementing the recommendations from the PCG report. Please see the important links below.

On June 23, 2021, PGC presented the Executive Summary of their review to the Board of Education. The full PCG report and PowerPoint presentation included | Meeting Video

On July 6, 2021, the Board of Education held a Special Meeting for the purpose of hearing public comment on the PCG Special Education Review findings and recommendations. | Meeting Video

On July 27, 2021, the first update on progress toward the PCG recommendations was shared with the Board of Education.

The next update will be presented to the Board of Education on September 9, 2021.

2021 Extended School Year Wraps Up

The Summer 2021 produced another successful Extended School Year (ESY) program. There were nearly 200 Pre-K through 12+ special education students who attend ESY. Special education teachers, paraprofessionals and related service providers worked hard to ensure that students continued to work on their IEP goals during the summer session. ESY was located at Glenville and Central Middle School. Julian Curtiss and Western Middle School also ran site-based programs that included students requiring ESY services.

Professional Development

Prior to the first day of school, many of our administrators, teachers and related service providers participated in various professional development activities.

All GPS administrators met for professional learning on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Administrators learned why UDL is necessary for transforming teaching and learning, what UDL looks like in practice and how to support the implementation of UDL in their buildings. This professional learning will continue into our new school year.

GPS was also excited to launch the 8-Day Training Series on Planning and Placement Team Practices for Improved Student Outcomes with all of our administrators. This training was provided by SERC, in conjunction with the CSDE.

Middle school psychologists, social workers, and guidance counselors have started their professional learning for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). This learning is being offered by Cognitive and Behavioral Consultants.

Special Education teachers and administrators will be a part of the Curriculum Advisory Council in Social Studies and English Language Arts. Their work will focus around these subject areas at the middle school levels.

Special Education staff will participate, with their general education peers, in training for our new K-8 math program, Big Ideas.

The Office of Special Education and Student Supports

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