Together We Can

March 20, 2023

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Happy first day of spring! The month of March is almost over and April is right around the corner. Last week at the Board of Education meeting, high school graduation and the last day of school were discussed. How did the end of the school year sneak up on us so quickly?

The Office of Special Education and Student Supports is hosting an Autism Resource Fair on Thursday, April 20 from 4:00 PM - 6:30 PM at Greenwich High School. Learn information about various resources in our community that support individuals with autism. A panel of parents and service providers who will share their experience and expertise. For more information, contact District Social Worker Kristen Mulhearn. Please see the flyer below for more information.


Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.

Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports

What We Are Seeing 👀 Around the Schools

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Students and faculty at Glenville School enjoyed a morning of bagpipes and drums on St. Patrick’s Day! There was a lot of clapping and tapping to the drums!

Social Emotional Learning at Glenville

School is not just a place to grow academically, but it is alwaus a place to grow as a person. District Psychologist Dr. Alina A Boie led an SEL lesson at Glenville School and guided students through group discussions.

Welcome to Mr. Alex at Julian Curtiss

Just a few weeks ago, a new prekindergarten classroom opened up at Julian Curtiss School. Mr. Alex, our new teacher, is putting on the finishing touches!

Expository Writing at Hamilton Avenue

Students in the third grade at Hamilton Avenue School have been learning about the purpose of expository writing and practicing their skills in this genre. Ms. Rich is working with a student on editing and revising her draft to bring it to a finalized piece!

Reading at Riverside

Special Education Teacher Ms. Rosa supports students and works on reading comprehension skills in the general education classroom at Riverside School.

Reading at Hamilton Avenue

Students at Hamilton Avenue School are becoming stronger readers with Ms. Vigliotti’s small group, decoding instruction using the "Seeing Stars" program. This program is symbol imagery for phonological and orthographic processing in reading and spelling.

Celebrating Dr. Seuss at Glenville

Kindergarten students at Glenville School celebrated Dr. Seuss Day by working on counting to 100. Students worked together in small groups to complete a numbers chart.

Hamilton Avenue Coffee and Conversation

On March 3, Ms. Rachel Rubin provided a presentation on neurodiversity to the families at Hamilton Avenue School. Ms. Rubin shared resources to families on inclusion, universal design for learning, and celebrating how students think differently.

Glowing and Growing Together

Parents and children spent quality time together at a family mindfulness and yoga retreat, engaging in fun yoga and mindfulness activities. Participants learned ways to foster a growth mindset at home and practiced effective stress management strategies through interactive games and crafts.

So Many Good Things Happening at Greenwich High School

Ms. Flaherty and Ms. Mulligan co-taught class work collaboratively to solve math problems.

District Social Worker Kristen Mulhearn gave a wonderful presentation with Mr. Pereira on supporting high school students who struggle with attendance.

Ms. Cafagno and Ms. Malara co-taught English class work on having students compile their thoughts on the book Of Mice and Men.

Two of our special education teachers, Ms. Love and Ms. Thompson, participated in a badminton tournament to build connectedness during GHS PD Day.

On February 7, the class of 2027 came together for the first time at GHS to learn about what makes Greenwich Public Schools so amazing. Approximately 800 students had the opportunity to learn about the incredible elective offerings and how they can get involved at GHS. Everyone is looking forward to welcoming the class of 2027 this fall!

Workshops and Resources

Children's Books with Disability Representation

The American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Awards are given to authors whose books represent the disability experience and “embodies an artistic expression.” They include a winner from the following age categories: teen, middle grade, and young children.

This year’s teen winner is “The Words We Keep,” by Erin Stewart; the middle grade winner is “Wildoak,” by C.C. Harrington; and the young children winner is “Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion,” by Shannon Stocker.

You can find a list of the winners, runners up, and the book descriptions on the American Library Association website.

Bridging Process for Students with IEP's

The SESS Department hosted virtual information sessions on the bridging process during the months of February and March. Please see the recordings and PowerPoints below:

Preschool to Kindergarten Bridging

  • The Preschool to Kindergarten parent presentation on February 28, 2023 PowerPoint

5th to 6th grade Bridging

8th to 9th grade Bridging

  • The 8th to 9th grade parent presentation on March 2, 2023 Recording and PowerPoint
  • Greenwich High School Class of 2027 8th Grade Parent Orientation PowerPoint

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Reading Lab

by MaryPat Caldwell

This month I would like to address another frequently asked question: "What is Orton Gillingham?"

Orton-Gillingham (“OG”) is a research-based instructional approach, initially developed in the 1930s by neuropsychiatrist Samuel Orton and educator and psychologist Anna Gillingham to teach struggling readers.

At that time, dyslexia was referred to as “word blindness." The basic principles of the OG approach include instruction in the phonetic structure of the language system that is direct, systematic, sequential, and uses multisensory teaching strategies.

Many programs have been developed based on this OG approach. In 1988, the first edition of the Wilson Reading program was published. In 1995, the Orton Gillingham Academy was formed with its mission to educate and certify teachers using the OG approach.

The Wilson Reading program is now in its fourth edition, and many other programs have been developed including Preventing Academic Failure (PAF); S.P.I.R.E; and Project Read. These programs have their own training and/or certification process.

While no one program is considered “the best,” the critical elements of Orton Gillingham include a highly structured approach to instruction that is prescriptive, diagnostic, sequential, cumulative, individualized, and multisensory (visual, auditory and kinesthetic).

If you would like to learn more, the International Dyslexia Association is a great resource.

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What is a 504 Plan?

By Michele Iannello

A 504 Plan can help students with disabilities access their education by leveling the playing field with accommodations to help support their learning and growth. If you are wondering if a 504 Plan is right for your child, we encourage you to contact support staff at your child's school (school counselors, social workers, and school psychologists) to talk about your concerns. We are all happy to help and always want to ensure all children have what they need.

The article, 504 Plan: Why is It Important and Who Does It Serve?, is a short narrative that may help with some of your questions.

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The Office of Special Education and Student Supports

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