I hope everyone has enjoyed the spring weather. It has been so nice to get outside. It also has been a busy month in the Department of Student Services.
On March 22, Medfield joined Millis, Medway, Holliston and Ashland for the 5 Town Special Olympics at Holliston High School. Nine students competed in hockey related activities and even had the opportunity for photo shoots and games with Blades the Boston Bruins mascot. Students, families and staff from all over the district attended to cheer on the participants and the team even had a police escort back into town to celebrate their success. It was a wonderful day showcasing the talents of our students, the collaborative efforts of these communities and the relationships built through the camaraderie of the Special Olympics. Thanks to Holliston for hosting such an incredible day.
There have been many awareness days/months that have been recognized in Medfield and around the world over the past few months. I was discussing with a colleague the importance of recognizing these but always remembering that there are so many more that deserve just such recognition. I found this resource and feel it was fascinating to see so clearly just how many ways someone may be impacted by disability, health or medical diagnoses. Some of these are more openly discussed by the general public and others are not. Some disabilities are visibly recognizable and others are not. What struck me is that as a society, we continue to struggle with disability awareness and yet in seeing this comprehensive list, we could be recognizing something almost every day. I am challenging myself to check this resource each day and to find something to read, listen to or watch to further my own understanding. As a school system, we are always working to find the 'right balance' - recognition to raise awareness while trying to remain inclusive rather than exclusive by omission.
There have been a number of job postings for the Department of Student Services over the last month. This includes a special education teacher and a co-taught special education teacher at Dale Street, a special education teacher at Wheelock, a psychologist and a speech language pathologist at the high school and an out of district coordinator/transition program coordinator. Once the postings have closed, we will begin to review applications and resumes and continue with the hiring process. I will continue to update through this blog.
The next SEPAC meeting will be May 21, 2019 at 7pm at the Blake Library. The topic will be increasing student attendance and input at IEP meetings and will be led by a panel of students, parents and our team leader for grades 7-12, Karey Curley.
My apologies to all for the tardiness with this post. The month of February got away from me and I completely forgot to update here.
We have had a busy few months in Student Services. As many of you know, the CPR findings asked us to prepare and present on a number of different topics. We have presented to all schools now and will continue to do so over the next month. It has been a great excuse for me to visit each building and get to know many of the staff members more.
In January during the Early Release day, many of the related service providers from across the district and I met to brainstorm, streamline services and take advantage of all of the expertise in the room to continually better our programming. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to work more closely with these individuals and to capitalize on their knowledge to support all students.
As I have discussed in past postings, I finished up my interviews with parents/guardians, staff, and administration and began work coding themes and writing up a formal entry plan review. I plan to present this to school committee at the meeting on March 11 at 7:30pm. I look forward to seeing some of you there. If you are unable to attend but curious to hear from me, I will be reviewing this presentation at the SEPAC meeting on Tuesday, March 19 at 7pm at Blake Middle School and I will also post the presentation under the resources section on this blog.
The next SEPAC meeting will be Tuesday, March 19 at 7pm at Blake Middle School. If you have not had the opportunity to complete the SEPAC survey, please do so. It will help the board with workshop ideas and ways that SEPAC can support you.
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday and some relaxing time with your family. I am excited to start a new calendar year with Medfield Public Schools. My first six months have been a whirlwind but I have gained a great deal of information, worked closely with staff and families, visited the schools many times and enjoyed collegial and spirited conversations. I am looking forward to the second half of the year and all that we are set to accomplish.
One area of conversation that I have had with a variety of stakeholders revolves around the concept of neurodiversity. Neurodiversity refers to the concept that "neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation"
I have further continued to find myself discussing how to help all students to be successful beyond high school. This does not just mean in college or postsecondary education but in the working world as well. How do we help students to build a repertoire of skills that will assist in bringing success for them in any career and how do we further help students to recognize strengths that they bring to the workforce, no matter their areas of need or limitations? This article was recently shared with me and intrigued me as it discussed both of these issues together and how the workforce is beginning to adapt to the concept of neurodiversity.
The next SEPAC meeting will be held on January 15 at 7pm at the Blake Library. I hope to see many of you there. Also, don't forget the Medfield SEPAC stress-relieving family event on January 22nd at Medfield High School Library - Tapping with Holli Bassin
I hope that everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving and is enjoying this holiday season. It has been a busy month in the Department of Student Services. District wide special education and guidance departments gathered together for professional development during the Early Release on November 9. It was great to see everyone learning and growing together in our mission to support all students.
Coordinated Program Review
Last month, I presented to School Committee on the results of the Coordinated Program Review. This presentation has been added to the resources tab on the blog. Please let me know if you have any questions. Internally, a great deal of work has begun on the corrective action piece of the review. Each finding will be addressed with a specific set of actions. Two of the more comprehensive findings involve a curriculum review and an institutional self-evaluation. A committee of various stakeholders was assembled and met on Monday, December 3 to begin work on this endeavor. More information will be available as the work on this committee progresses.
I am beginning to code themes from all of the conversations that I have had since entering the district. If you have not had a chance to talk with me and would like to, please let me know. I plan to finalize a report in January. While I continue to welcome conversations after the break, the information will not be used for this report.
SEPAC will be holding its Basic Rights Presentation on December 18, 2018 at Blake Library. The Federation for Children with Special Needs will be delivering the information and it is expected to be two hours.
Every six years, the Department of Education does a Coordinated Program Review within each district to check compliance in a myriad of areas within a variety of programs. This past year, Medfield went through CPR in the areas of Special Education, Civil Rights and English Learner Education. The Department reviewed uploaded information from the district and performed a site visit in which they read through files, interviewed staff, students and parents and visited programs. They then issued a final report which was made available to the district this Fall. Superintendent Marsden, School Committee Vice Chair, Jessica Reilly and I had the opportunity to sit down with Matthew Nixon from DESE in October to review the results. Mr. Nixon stated that "Medfield had a great review" and further commented that he was impressed by what he saw and heard during his site visit. As with all CPR reviews, there were some areas of finding for corrective action and the district will now have a year to build all areas to full compliance. A more thorough review of the CPR process and findings will be given at the School Committee meeting tonight, 11/5/18.
I have truly enjoyed getting into the schools to observe programs and work with staff. I have even had the opportunity to attend team meetings over the past few months. It has broadened my understanding of Medfield Student Services and guided a great deal of my thinking thus far. I have also had the pleasure of meeting with a number of staff members and parents so that I can continue to expand on my entry plan. As I mentioned last month, I am hoping to round these conversations out by the end of November so that I can begin to code themes and assemble a report that will assist in future planning for the Department of Student Services. Please reach out if you would like to sit down and talk.
Save the date for the next SEPAC meeting on 11/20/18 at 7pm in the Blake Library.
I cannot believe that a full month of school has already gone by. The first few days before students arrived were busy as always but the entire Student Services' team was able to meet together briefly on the first day (Special Education, Guidance, Nursing and ELL). It was a great opportunity to have time together and to set the tone for a collaborative year in the making!
I have really enjoyed getting into the schools and feeling the energy of a new school year. I have had the opportunity to attend some staff meetings and work more closely with so many of the great staff members in the Student Services' Department as well as see services in action within the schools. I have been working on my Entry Plan and hosting conversations with parents and staff members in my office. I will continue these conversations for the next two months and then code themes from the answers and draft a report that will help to drive goals moving forward for the Department.
The department of Student Services has hired a new BCBA for the district. Catherine Casey started October 1 and will be working primarily with Wheelock, Blake and the High School. She comes to us with a myriad of experiences and is excited to work closely with Katie Aries, the BCBA at Memorial and Dale, to streamline support for students and staff across the district.
I enjoyed meeting a number of families during the Special Education Meet and Greets prior to the school year. At each building, we had reference sheets for Student Services' specific contact information. These sheets have also been added to the District Student Services' page as well (www.medfield.net/district-offices/student-services).
SEPAC held its first meeting of the year on September 18 and the Special Education Leadership team (Coordinators, Team Chairs, Out of District Coordinators and Director) enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many parents/guardians. It was an open question and answer session and a chance for me to hear a great deal about what is currently happening in Medfield as well as discuss my background and formal Entry Plan (see above).
Please reach out with any questions,
Welcome to the 2018-19 school year in the Medfield Public Schools. I am excited to be joining the district as the new Director of Student Services. It has been a busy summer talking with parents, staff and administrators as I learn more about this great district while completing all the other necessary elements to assure we are ready for school to open.
As many of you may know, we have two secretaries in the Department of Student Services- Kim Mitchell and Andrea Moores. In an attempt to streamline questions and concerns and also have it easier for all to know who to turn to, we have tried to align some of the work. Kim will now handle all in district IEP paperwork and Andrea will be the point person for out of district IEP paperwork and transportation. Hopefully, this will provide a clear understanding for all when directing a question towards the department.
I mentioned in my opening email that Melissa Devine took a new position with the Brookline Public Schools. Melissa's role was fairly new so we evaluated its impact for the district. Given our current needs, we felt it was important to try to increase student support by hiring a second full time BCBA for the district instead of replacing the duel coordinator/BCBA position. The current coordinators Nancy Giammarco (K-5 coordinator) and Meg Garvey (6-12 coordinator) will return to working with the ACCESS programs at their grade levels to assure streamlined programming for all. Meg Nelson and Missy Bilsborough will return to being the points of contact for the preschool programming.
As you may have further read in my opening email, Gina Dalan stepped down as the Out of District Coordinator at the end of the school year. We posted the position in anticipation of hiring for this coming school year. However, given the rushed timeline, we did not feel confident that an efficient process could be carried out to assure the proper candidate was found. Therefore, Gina Dalan and Meredith Becker, who has been working part time as Out of District Coordinator for the past year, have agreed to stay on for the 2018-19 school year. In this way, we can repost the position and assure a thorough process in finding the appropriate next candidate.
I have had the great pleasure of meeting and beginning to work closely with the SEPAC board this summer. I encourage all of you that are not aware of their work to check out their website and reach out with questions, concerns or thoughts.
I will update this blog at least monthly and look forward to working with all of you.