Allison Strand, Executive Director of Special Education
Sheri Keller, Coordinator of Preschool Special Education and Related Services
Brenda Friedland, Coordinator of Elementary Special Education
Daniel Helmes, Coordinator of Middle School Special Education
Michelle Melfi, Coordinator of High School Special Education
Special Education encompasses a comprehensive array of services, instructional methodologies, materials and equipment to provide students with disabilities additional educational support. Special education services are uniquely applied to each individual in purpose, content, delivery, mode, intensity and duration. Such services are recommended by the Committee on Special Education and an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is then developed based on a student’s present level of performance and individual needs.
The IEP is developed by a multi-disciplinary team consisting of the child’s teacher, school psychologist, special education teacher, related service providers, and input from the parent. The IEP includes specific goals and objectives, as well as any modifications and/or testing accommodations, that the child may need to perform in his or her current setting. Students with disabilities are placed in the least restrictive setting and integrated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent possible, based on each student’s individual needs. Currently, 95% of our students with disabilities are integrated in our district schools, with 5% receiving their education in schools outside the district, such as BOCES and special day and residential schools.
Staff participated in the following workshops:
teacher mentoring program for new teachers
new teacher & probationary teacher training
continued IEP training
implementation of instructional modifications and testing accommodations
Half Hollow Hills’ IEP computer program
Integrated Co-Teaching workshops/collaborative teaching
specialized reading programs:
Horizons Training –focusing on direct instruction in reading
Read 180 Training-multidisciplinary approach to reading
Foundations Training-to build phonetic awareness and sound symbol recognition
person centered planning
positive behavioral support techniques
auditory therapy for the hearing impaired-Speech and Hearing Department Training
In addition, special education paraprofessionals received in-service training on a series of topics relating to their role in the classroom:
Autism Staff Development/Parent Training
The number of students with autism moving from the elementary level to the secondary level has increased. Special education teachers, general education teachers, school psychologists, related service providers, and paraprofessionals who work with children on the autism spectrum, and parents of students on the spectrum, all received ongoing training. Special education paraprofessionals were provided with in-service training on a series of topics relating to their roles in the classroom.
Bi-monthly intensive training sessions were available for parents with children on the autism spectrum. Sixteen evening workshops were presented by Dr. Donna Anzalone Thiele, behavioral consultant. Topics were varied and parent requests were instrumental in topic selection. Child specific parent training which is mandated by a child’s IEP has also been provided regularly and is quite successful. There is additional comprehensive training for general education teachers planning to have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in their class.
An assistive technology consultant provides services to students with disabilities requiring assistive service in special education with ongoing student, staff, and parent training.
Workshops were held for staff to assist students in making transitions. Students will gain an understanding of their disability, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and learn to self-advocate. Person Centered Planning was a major focus in working with students with disabilities. In addition, several work opportunities were offered to the special education students entering 9th grade. Students work on pre-vocational skills in the classroom, go on community field trips and participate in an internship at Home Depot. The Dept. of Labor Program offers students after-school and summer paid work experience with vocational counselor support. During the school year students have participated in groups facilitated by a social worker. Group activity includes social skills, work appropriate behavior, and transitioning to high school and adulthood.
Two parent meetings were held, “Getting Ready for High School” and “Getting Ready for Middle School.” These meetings offered the opportunity for parents to meet with building staff to learn about their different roles as well as program/services available at the secondary level.
Parent and Community Workshops and Meetings
Informal teas were held for parents of all incoming preschoolers with disabilities to familiarize them with the district’s special education services and CSE process. A power point presentation of the district’s special education kindergarten program was presented by special education administrators.
High school and middle school teas were held during the fall for all parents of students with disabilities, in order to introduce them to the special education staff, support staff and administrators.
Informational meetings for parents held by the Special Education Subcommittee of the PTA during the 2005-06 school year included the following topics: attention deficit disorder, stress management, homework issues, parenting issues, after-school and summer programs, alternative assessments, estate planning for families of children with special needs, and test anxiety
An Elementary Curriculum Coffee was offered. This evening presentation consisted of a panel discussion which presented an overview of the instructional programs for special education elementary children.
CSE (Committee on Special Education) Workshop
CPSE (Committee on Preschool Special Education) Workshop
These workshops were held for parents and staff members of the CSE/CPSE to understand IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), the CSE/CPSE process and their role on this multi-disciplinary team.
Special Education Resource Center
Supporting the needs of today’s students and families, The HHH Resource Library houses print and audiovisual resources. Library staff responds to requests from staff, students, parents, and the community. The collection is presently online and can be accessed through the district’s website (www.hhh.k12.ny.us). Services include assistance with resource selection, program planning, information and referral. The collection contains books, curricula, pamphlets, instructional guides, activity books, videos, games, audio cassettes, articles, hand-outs, program models, resource catalogs, professional journals, newsletters, magazines, and directories. New materials are being acquired on an ongoing basis. Materials may be borrowed for a two week period.
Clinical Sports, Recreational Sports, and Adaptive Swim Program
Clinical sports (grades K-2) and Recreational Sports (grades 3-5) are after school adaptive sports programs focusing on skill acquisition in gross motor, social, and behavioral development. Adaptive Physical Education Teachers, physical education teachers and paraprofessionals provide positive learning experiences for students with disabilities. The adaptive swim program, held weekly at High School West, is available for our students who receive adaptive physical education as part of their special education program.
The Half Hollow Hills Central School District offers educational, vocational, nonacademic, and extracurricular opportunities without regard to gender, race/ethnicity, or disability.