News from Student Services

Edition #1, December 2019

A Message from Andrea Leonardi, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services

Dear Students, Staff, Parents, and the Wilton Community;

Welcome to the first edition of the Student Services Newsletter! In this edition, we seek to introduce and assist students, staff, parents, and all stakeholders in understanding the focus of our work in the 19/20 school year. We hope to publish the newsletter quarterly to share information, celebrate successes, and inform the public of all the work going on in our department. I hope you enjoy our first edition.

This year we have three areas of focus that we believe will improve outcomes for all students with disabilities across the PreK-21 spectrum. The three areas of focus are Literacy (reading, writing, speaking, listening), Social and Emotional Learning and Executive Functioning (SEL/EF), and Post SecondaryTransition Planning. We will seek to update the community on these 3 initiatives in each edition. In addition to the work being done in these 3 areas, we will seek to share successes, updates, and information about things happening in the district. It is our goal to publish this newsletter 3-4 times per year, so stay tuned!!! We hope you enjoy this newsletter. It is a work in progress, so constructive feedback is welcomed. Please send constructive feedback and suggestions to ssnewsletter@wiltonps.org

I wish all of you a wondrous holiday season and a healthy, happy, and productive 2020!!!

Sincerely,

Andrea Leonardi

Literacy Initiative, submitted by Sharon DeAngelo, Assistant Director of Student Services PreK-5

Our work to discover and experience literacy begins at our Early Learning Center at Miller-Driscoll with our 3 and 4 year olds! Our students both with disabilities and without enjoy discovery with books and pre-reading development through rhyme, song, and stories galore. The units of instruction each have their own wonderful books that are incorporated into the play and lesson structure to enhance our students familiarity with concepts of print along with the enjoyment of a story. Technology adds a whole new layer of interaction with our literacy work as well!


At Miller Driscoll School we believe remedial Literacy instruction is an individualized journey

encompassing a variety of programs, approaches and activities to meet the needs of our learners. Our special education teachers develop specific lessons combining multi-sensory, research based approaches to reading. Instruction is individualized to target the impacted areas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Our reading services are presented in individual and small group settings both in and out of the classrooms. Our programs are fluid as we adjust based on student needs. Literacy at Miller Driscoll is individualized, research-based and addresses the essential areas of reading for our young learners.


At Cider Mill we continue to target reading instruction to our struggling readers through comprehensive interventions. Our special education staff supports students both in the classroom and in resource rooms at their independent and instructional levels. Instruction that is out of the classroom may be in the form of a phonics group to address decoding, encoding, and/or fluency needs, or small comprehension groups. Instruction in the classroom is structured to provide our students with access to the curriculum at their individual level and is also in the form of small group work. We spend time collaborating with classroom teachers, related service members, and other staff members to differentiate and tailor instruction to fit the students’ literacy needs across environments and disciplines and utilize research-based interventions to teach and progress monitor regularly.

Post Secondary Transition Initiative: submitted by Melissa Barrett, Assistant Director of Student Services Grades 6-Age 21

Post Secondary Transition Planning is a formal process for helping students with disabilities develop and implement a plan for life after their eligibility for special education ends. This process begins for students at age 14 (or earlier if teams feel it necessary)l. Transition is a process and we are dedicated to making that transition a bridge for students and their families to a meaningful and successful life. This fall WPS hosted our third annual Transition Expo that was attended by adult service agencies (DDS/BRS), Landmark College, Dean College Arch Learning Center, Mitchell College, Norwalk Community College and a representative from Norwalk Probate Court. Also, we have trained five teams on the PATH and Lifecourse transition tool. These tools help students and their families, along with other critical friends explore their strengths, challenges, and goals to assist in developing this critical and dynamic plan. You can learn more about these tools at https://www.pacer.org/transition/learning-center/independent-community-living/person-centered.asp and http://www.lifecoursetools.com/planning/. For additional information about Transition, you can also look to our WPS website’s Transition link at https://www.wiltonps.org/departments/special-services/transition-planning

SEL/EF Initiative: Supportive Parenting of Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE) Training

On November 4th and 5th the Wilton Public Schools, in collaboration with Wilton SEPTA, Wilton Youth Services, and SpedNet Wilton, welcomed Dr. Eli Lebowitz, Director of the Program for Anxiety Disorders at the Yale Child Study Center to provide training in the S.P.A.C.E. Program (Supportive Parenting of Anxious Childhood Emotions) to clinicians and schools mental health providers from Wilton and the surrounding community. SPACE is a 12-session program that works with parents to develop skills in parenting children who are prone to anxiety, including those with anxiety disorders. The School Social Workers from the Wilton Public Schools along with area clinicians and staff from neighboring school districts spent 2 days working directly with Dr. Lebowitz at Middlebrook Middle School. In addition, Dr. Lebowitz presented to parents and the community on this program in the evening on Monday, November 4th in the Middlebrook Auditorium. The feedback from parents has been fantastic!

If you are parenting a young person who is prone to anxiety and would like to learn more about SPACE or seek assistance there are a number of pathways to help. Here are just a few:

We will keep the community posted as we partner with Yale to explore and develop how SPACE can help strengthen our students and families. Stay tuned!!

Extended School Year Services 2020

The dates have been set for the Summer of 2020! Extended Year Programming will be held weekly, Monday through Thursday, from July 6th to July 30th, 2020. Preschool- 5th-grade programming will be held at Miller-Driscoll Elementary School and 6th grade - age 21 will be held at Wilton High School.

Elementary ESY - Miller-Driscoll Elementary School

Preschool 8:30-11:30 AM

Kindergarten- 5th Grade Intensive Instruction including Summer Fun 8:30-1:30 PM

Kindergarten- 5th Grade Summer Fun (only) 9:30-12:30 PM

Kindergarten- 5th Grade Academic Tutorial 8:00-10:00 AM


Secondary ESY - Wilton High School

6th-12th Grade Academic Tutorial 8:00-10:00 AM

6th-12th Grade Intensive Instruction 8:30-1:30 PM


Community Steps 8:30-1:30 PM


Staff Spotlight: Dr. Julie Bookbinder, Speech and Language Pathologist, Middlebrook Middle School

Dr. Julie Bookbinder exemplifies the life-long learner! Her career as a Speech and Language Pathologist spans decades dedicated to helping children find their voice. While Dr. Bookbinder could easily hang a "shingle" and go into private practice, she chooses to work in public schools so she can positively impact the lives of her students. Dr. Bookbinder is an advocate for her students. She works diligently with each and every student to bring meaning to their world and help them achieve their dreams.

Introducing The Genesis Program - An alternative program of choice available to all Wilton Students in Grades 7-12

At the start of the 2019-2020 school year the Wilton Public Schools launched the Genesis Program. Genesis is an alternative program for students in grades 7-12 for whom the larger school setting has been difficult and who desire an alternative approach to learning the core curriculum using Project-Based Learning (PBL), an innovative teaching method in which students learn and show mastery of core content standards by engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects (learn more here https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl) . The teaching team at Genesis is comprised of 4 certified staff:

Tom Koch, Humanities

Brett Amero, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Eileen Wheeler, Special Education

Allison Hourani, School Social Worker

The team and students have been hard at work in the first semester and the student roster continues to grow. If you are interested in learning more or applying to attend Genesis please contact Eileen Wheeler at wheelere@wiltonps.org Additional information and the application for Genesis can be found at https://www.wiltonps.org/genesis-program-clone

Miller Driscoll Early Learning Center News!!

At the Miller-Driscoll Early Learning Center, the Creative Curriculum is employed to bring learning to life. The Creative Curriculum for Preschool is a comprehensive, research-based curriculum that promotes exploration and discovery as a way of learning to enable our youngest learners to develop confidence, creativity, and life-long learning skills. We hope you enjoy some of our pictures.
Big picture

Need a holiday or birthday gift idea? Gofindit and Gofindittoo: Outdoor Nature Scavenger Hunt for Families!!

"Gofindit and Gofindit Too are instant natural treasure hunt games that invite you to use all your senses. They are simple, fun (inexpensive) card games that can be played anywhere... at a picnic in the park, on a walk in the woods, at the beach... anywhere!" Great for building vocabulary, observation skills, perspective, and language. The authors of the game created the game to allow players of all abilities. The game can be played in 5 minutes or all day! Fun for all!

For Gofindit go to

https://www.amazon.com/gofindit-Outdoor-Nature-Scavenger-Families/dp/B00XKO5RPQ/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3O82JI0111RL3&keywords=gofindit+-+outdoor+nature+scavenger+hunt+card+game+for+families&qid=1575561813&sprefix=gofindit%2Caps%2C153&sr=8-2

For Gofindittoo go to

https://www.amazon.com/gofindit-Too-Outdoor-Treasure-Families/dp/B07GJLZCBF/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3O82JI0111RL3&keywords=gofindit+-+outdoor+nature+scavenger+hunt+card+game+for+families&qid=1575561813&sprefix=gofindit%2Caps%2C153&sr=8-3