Together We Can

October 2, 2023

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September was a busy month, as you will see below from all the great things that are happening around the schools, and there are so many great things to look forward to around the district in October.

I want to highlight an upcoming collaborative event between the SESS Department and SEAC. Please join us for a virtual two night event on October 10 and 17, in which we will watch the award winning documentary, "Including Samuel" on October 10 and then speak with the filmmaker, Dan Habib, on the 17. Information on register for this amazing event is below. I hope to see you all there!


Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.

Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports

What We Are Seeing 👀 Around the Schools

PreK Morning Movers

These preschool students love getting their energy out before going to focus on their learning in "Morning Movers" in Ms. Kim's class at Old Greenwich School.

Hello Kindergarten

Mrs. Williamson is reviewing the lesson agenda in her kindergarten class at Old Greenwich School. Mr. Delucia is pushing into the classroom to provide students with direct instruction.

Julian Curtis SESS Parent Coffee

Mr. Hartigan and the SESS staff at Julian Curtis School hosted their first coffee of the year. Staff introduced themselves as well as explained their roles in the school. Thank you to all the families that attended.

Stopping by for a Visit

District Supervisor of School Nursing Ms. Wieneke came back to Cos Cob School to say hello to the students where she was the school nurse for many years.

Co-Teaching Across the District

Ms. Fama and Ms. Hagerty's seventh grade co-taught ELA class at Eastern Middle School is working in making inferences. The class began with students reaching into a "Mystery Box" to make an educated guess on what was in the box based on what they were feeling, and what they know about the size, shape, texture, etc. about the object. Following this, the students used images to make inferences: "What do I see? What do I infer? I infer this because..." Finally, for homework, students apply strategies to make inferences on the main character's perspective from the book "Ghost."

Co-Teachers Mrs. Kreutzer and Mrs. Domuracki engage students in an English 112 lesson on paragraph writing.

Co-Teachers, Mrs. Remy and Mrs. McConville, are hard at work introducing the text, “A Lesson Before Dying.”

Community Connections students are hard at work!

GHS Parent Coffee

Speaker Zanetah Sasser joined us at our first parent coffee SESSion GHS! She presented on the very important topic of "Destigmatizing Mental Health." The conversation, company (and cookies, thank you food services) were incredible!

Windrose Student's Visit Silverman's Farm

Welcome Back to School

On September 20, the SESS Department hosted their second annual Ice Cream Social for all SESS staff district wide. It as a great opportunity to see colleagues throughout the district and to hear about what is going on. The Old Greenwich School SESS staff had an amazing time. Thank you to Cos Cob School for hosting this event!

Workshops and Resources

SEAC Zoom Guest Speaker Series

The Special Education Advisory Council, in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Student Supports, will present a two-part Zoom series on October 10 and 17, both at 7:00 PM, on building an inclusive life for students with disabilities. Featured speakers include award-winning documentary filmmakers and nationally renowned disability rights advocates, Dan Habib, and his son, Samuel. The first part includes a screening of their documentary, “Including Samuel,” with a live presentation the following week. Please register online for the first presentation on October 10.

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Special Education Action Plan

Dr. Heiligenthaler provided an update to the Board of Education to start the school year. There is a short 10 minute video that highlights the focus for 2023-2024. We are grateful to our parents and staff who continue to provide feedback to GPS as we continue to build strong programs to support every student in GPS.

CT Secondary Transition Supports

Reading Lab

by MaryPat Caldwell

Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year. It has been an exciting start to the year as we welcome back our students! This year we have been busy unpacking boxes of new reading materials that arrived over the summer. All the schools from K-8 are excited to have the most updated Orton Gillingham based programs, a brand new library of decodable and leveled books, corresponding workbooks, on-line resources, and multisensory materials. The Reading Lab will continue to support teachers, students and families. Last year, I addressed many frequently asked questions. (See links below if you are new to the district or would like to revisit any of the topics covered.) This year I would like to continue to support parents by providing information and resources. I need your help! Tell me what you would like to know by filling out this brief survey

Learn, or re-read, about these topics and more:

504 Corner

By Michele Iannello

What is a 504 Plan?

Below are some highlights from the article, What is a 504 Plan?

A 504 Plan is a blueprint for how the school will support a student with a disability and remove barriers to learning. The goal is to give the student equal access to their education at school.

504 Plans are formal plans that schools help develop to support students with disabilities, and covers any condition that limits daily activities in a significant way. These plans help prevent discrimination, and are covered under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is a Civil Rights law.

504 Plans are not part of special education, but the goal is the same - to help students have the needed supports to thrive in school.

504 Plans often include accommodations, such as alternate location and extra breaks or extra time for testing, changes to how curriculum is presented, such as getting outlines in lessons, or support for social-emotional issues. Accommodations don’t change what students learn, but how they learn it. The goal is to remove any barriers and provide equal access to a student’s education.

If your student has a 504 plan, or believe your child could benefit from a 504 Plan and have questions, please contact your child’s school counselor (in grades 6-12) or the Assistant Principal at your child’s school. I am also always happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have, and can be reached at

Please join us for the Fall 2023 Listening Community Series

Our Mission

To offer a safe space where parents/caregivers of children receiving special education support can come together, feel heard and connect with others. Staff will guide parents/caregivers through the process of exploring mindfulness, self compassion and reflection, with relation to the many emotions associated with parenting.

Please join our Fall 2023 Listening Community.

Meetings will be held at Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue.

Friday mornings 9:30-10:30 AM:

October 6

October 13

October 20

October 27

November 3

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The Office of Special Education and Student Supports

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