Together We Can

January 31, 2022

Big picture

I hope that everyone stayed safe and warm during our snow storm this past weekend. Although January has given us quite a few weather events, we continue to be busy with professional development and student learning opportunities. I have included some pictures in this issue of Together We Can from some of the professional development sessions that were held on January 14. While our students received a much needed day off to start a three-day weekend, our staff was hard at work. I want to thank all of the presenters as well as the participants for making it a great day!


Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.

Interim Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports

Professional Development on January 14

Effective Strategies with Dr. Boie

This interactive workshop, Effective Strategies for the Most Common Mental Health Difficulties in Students, presented by Dr. Alina Boie, focused on understanding the most common mental health concerns in students: ADHD, depression, anxiety, and oppositional defiance. Staff learned about, and practiced, effective behavior management tools that help to support students in need.

Bringing out the Best with Ms. Whitman

In this training session, Bringing out the Best in Our Students: Strategies for Building Independence, Ms. Deborah Whitman, BCBA/LBA, covered procedures and strategies to increase the levels of independence for students regardless of their current levels by using appropriate prompting and prompt fading procedures as well as consequence strategies. Ms. Whitman highlighted reinforcement techniques outside the typical praise and how to respond to unexpected behaviors.

Special Helper

GHS Teacher Ms. Lauren Edwards spent her professional development day with her personal assistant, Spencer. He "helped" catch up on grading during the planning time. She tells us that she was very grateful for the planning time today and put it to good use. We suspect Spencer was grateful for the comfy seat.

Universal Design for Learning

The second training session in Universal Design for Learning for all GPS teachers, moved from the theory of UDL, which was the focus at the November PD, to the implementation in the classroom. Teachers met in large and small groups to discuss how they see UDL in their classrooms.

Working Hard ... in Slippers

Social Worker Ms. Danielle Polizzi told us that she very much appreciated being able to participate in professional development from home. Her fantastic work environment including a big cup of java, the warm sun shining on her back from her window, and her comfy slippers!

Bilingual and Bicultural Evaluations

Catherine “Cate” Crowley, J.D. Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a Professor of Practice in Teachers College, Columbia University’s CSD program, and director of the bilingual/multicultural focus at Bilingual SLP Extension Institute. Her presentation reviewed the current research and the federal law to understand how to appropriately evaluate bilingual and bicultural students to identify a language disorder.

What We Are Seeing 👀 Around the Schools

Writing at Old Greenwich

Fifth-grade teacher Ms. Amanda Kocot and Special Education Teacher Ms. Sarah Romaine dutifully support their students on a writing assignments.

Ms. Yates at Hamilton Avenue's Kitchen Center

Ms. Yates, a dual certified Special Education and General Education Preschool Teacher at Hamilton Avenue School, created a kitchen center for every student in her classroom to ensure dramatic play.

Some great examples in the kitchens are: bottle tops for knobs on the stove that turn, aluminum foil over cardboard to make baking sheets, large pompoms for sponges, and painted plastic piping for faucets.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children. tells us: “Culturally relevant dramatic play centers let young children draw from their experiences to enhance their play. Children reenact activities and observations from family life and share common events in their cultures. Authentic dramatic play leads to children's meaningful learning - especially in language and vocabulary.”

Reading Services at Parkway

Special Education Teacher Ms. Kristin Machi works on a reading activity with a student during their service time. Teachers use a variety of strategies to teach and take data on student improvement.

Bullying Prevention at CMS

Dr. Fabian A. Boie engages with seventh-graders at Central Middle School in a conversation about bullying prevention. These SEL student workshops are part of GPS' efforts to promote awareness about bullying prevention and actively teach students SEL skills, such as how to be assertive and stand up for others.

Mindfulness at Parkway

Dr. Alina Boie teaches kindergarten students at Parkway how to use mindful breathing exercises to calm down and focus in school. Students learned how the brain reacts to stress and practiced effective strategies to help them relax

Workshops and Resources

Board of Education Special Meeting - Retreat

On Thursday, February 3, the Board of Education’s Special Meeting will take place at 7:00 PM at Central Middle School, with a virtual viewing option on Zoom. The BOE will only discuss two agenda items: Strategic Plan Update and Special Education Action Plan. As a reminder, public comment happens only during monthly business meetings, not at special meetings.

Attention Grade 5 and Grade 8 Parents

The Office of Special Education and Student Supports will be hosting a parent evening to discuss the process for students transitioning from fifth to sixth grade and eighth to ninth grade. Special Education staff and parents will share information about the transition process and steps that parents can do to assist their child.

Eighth-Ninth Grade Transition

March 3 at 6:30 PM

Fifth-Sixth Grade Transition

March 1 at 6:30 PM

The Listening Community - Winter 2022 Series

The mission of the Listening Community is to create a community of parents, together with Greenwich Public School staff, who are open to exploring the benefits of mindfulness, self compassion, and reflection to support parents through the special education process. Please see the monthly Listening Community newsletter for more information

The Listening Community will meet in-person at Greenwich Town Hall on the following Wednesday mornings from 9:30-10:30 AM and Wednesday evenings from 5:30-6:30 PM: February 2, February 9, February 23, March 2

For those that prefer, the evening Listening Community will offer participants the option to stream if they cannot attend in person:

The Office of Special Education and Student Supports

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