Thursday, September 6, 2018

Welcome Back!

I hope everyone enjoyed the summer; it's certainly has been a warm one! With school starting back up this week I wanted to say welcome back; we've had a busy but great summer in the Special Education Department. We've worked on quite a few things, have hired new staff who we are excited to work with and took time to relax and vacation.  

On a personal note, my husband and I have sent our twins off for their sophomore year of college; they left excited to get back to their friends and on with their studies. No empty nest for us though, we've had my parents move in with us due to some medical issues they have been dealing with. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to spend the time with them. Plus I get the added pleasure of having breakfast with my dad every morning; something I've grown to look forward to as I start each day! It may not have been what we planned to be doing at this point in our lives, but we wouldn't change it for anything.

Summer Work
We've sure been busy this summer. Darlene and I have met with Rob Leo, Coordinator of Instructional Technology,  to help learn how to make some of our technology more accessible to our students. We plan to have Rob do some training with our Special Education Teachers and Teaching Assistants on how to use more of the features built into Google Chrome to allow them to assist our students better on the chromebooks.

We have hired a number of new folks in our Special Education department this year. We are excited to welcome five new teachers, twelve new teaching assistants, two new occupational therapists and one new physical therapist. We are looking forward to working with them all.

While we had fun working with technology and meeting new staff, we also had to do things that needed to be done. We've updated forms and reviewed our processes and procedures to be sure we are following the NYS Part 200 Regulations. Not as exciting but necessary.

Dance Class for Students with Disabilities
This summer I  heard about an opportunity for students with disabilities who would like to take dance classes. These Adaptive Dance Classes will be offered by Rae’s Institute of Dance and Movement in Brewerton. 

These classes will provide students the opportunity to learn and explore different styles of dance and movement. The focuses for the classes include: enhancing student’s confidence, team work, and listening/memory skills; all while building dance knowledge, rhythm, and stretching skills. However, our main goal is to have fun! They welcome students of all levels/experience.

The class is taught by Speech-Language Pathologist and Dance Instructor, Lauren Calcagnino. Additional teachers and volunteers will be there to assist students when necessary and provide encouragement along the way. Twice a year there will be a performance where students can show off their routines and new skills they have learned in class. Class size will be limited to allow for optimal success and necessary supervision.

Classes are on Saturdays starting September 22. There are two levels available: Level A for  5-12 year olds (10:30-11:15) and Level B: 13-18 year olds (11:30-12:15). Families must register by phone or in person. The telephone number is 315-458-1973. Rae’s Institute of Dance and Movement is located at 8860 Brewerton Road, Brewerton, NY.

We look forward to seeing all our students in the next few days as we start this year. We are always available if anyone needs to contact us with questions or concerns. Here's to a great school year for all!

See you soon
~ Sue

Thursday, July 5, 2018

NYS Education Department Requests Feedback

State Education Survey on Learning Disabilities
The New York State Education Department is requesting feedback from school staff and families regarding meeting the needs of students with learning disabilities. Please take a few minutes to complete this by clicking the link below and share your thoughts.

Thanks! Happy summer!  
Sue


Survey on Meeting the Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities
The Office of Special Education has developed surveys for administrators, educators/service providers, and families on meeting the needs of students with learning disabilities, including students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, in New York State. Broad dissemination of the surveys is encouraged. Participation is voluntary and anonymous. Results of the surveys will be used to inform guidance development related to students with specific learning disabilities and other NYSED initiatives including the State Systemic Improvement Plan. The surveys may be accessed at: http://www.mievaluation.com/SLD-Surveys.htmlQuestions about the purpose and/or content of the surveys may be directed to Kelly Onorato at dddstakeholders@nysed.gov

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

End of the Year

Special Education Department Year End Meeting


Darlene and I decided to wrap up our school year with a department meeting that included all of our special education staff. We rarely have an opportunity to get everyone together and wanted the staff to have a chance to celebrate all that they helped our students accomplish this year. There were so many of us we needed to meet in one of the high school cafeterias in order to fit everyone! I wanted to share with you some of the information I shared with the staff; it was eye opening to all of us.

Special Education at West Genesee by the Numbers for 2017-2018

We total 170 staff members in our department!
School Psychologists: 10
Related Service Providers: 21
Special Education Teachers: 53
Special Education Teaching Assistants:  86

Across all buildings we held 800 CSE meetings this year. Throughout this school year, our staff touched the lives of 850 students who had some type of special education service or support.


Our Class of 2018 

We had a total of 42 students who completed  high school this year! We are so proud of each and every one of them.


  • 2-Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation
  • 28-Regents Diploma
  • 7-Local Diploma
  • 2-Career and Occupational Studies Credential
  • 1-Skills and Achievement Credential
  • 2-Test Assessing Secondary Completion (former GED)


We have 34 students who are going to college next year. We wish all our graduates the best as they move on!

We also celebrated the many success of our students this year- there were so many that teachers shared. Some were academic, some were social and some were seeing students grow and mature into the wonderful young adults we see now! It was truly a wonderful way to end our year.  You can view the slideshow of success they shared here.

Darlene and I want to once again thank our special education staff for all they do for our students.  They are the reason our students are so successful. They care for them, nurture them, support them and help them be as successful as they can. We are truly lucky to have such wonderful staff to work with.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing summer. See you in September! 
 ~Sue






Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wrapping Up the Year!


Spring is Here and We're Wrapping Up the Year:
I cannot believe we are half-way through May- this year has certainly flown by!  Looking back, I realize that I have not done a blog in over a month and so much has been going on. Our Unified Sports Bowling team finished up their season and Basketball began and will be finishing up soon.There have been many Positivity Project assemblies, concerts, art shows, the Jr Prom and the Sr Ball- all of which we have had students participate in. In the next month we will have so many other events going on across the District: Special Olympics, field days, moving-up ceremonies, and of course graduation. I will continue to try to keep you posted on things going on in District and around our community.


WG SEPTSA:
The Year End Picnic will be coming up on June 30, 2018 at Shove Park from 1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.  Please stay tuned for more information. The group is starting to plan for next year and would like to expand the support they provide families. They are looking for new members to join and be part of their organization.  Please see their link on the Special Education quick link on the West Genesee webpage or click here.

Summer Activities
The Exceptional Family Resources Manual has many supports, services, and activities for students and families. There is information about behavioral supports, counseling, Medicaid Coordination, and trainings as well as recreation and leisure activities. Some of the activities include Abilities Fitness, Arise at the Farm and a variety of sports opportunities. You can find the resource manual here.

I love to share information that parents pass on to me so if you have any information that you think others could benefit from, please forward it to me.

I hope you can get outside and enjoy the warmer weather that is finally here!

~Sue

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Now that Spring is here and the sun is shining more, I am hoping we can all get out and enjoy some nicer weather.  There are a few events coming up I wanted to share.

The Westside Support Network:
The Westside Support Network is a group of community stakeholders who meet regularly to help plan and provide resources and supports for our community in the areas of mental health wellness and substance abuse awareness.  On Tuesday, March 27 from 6:00pm-8:00pm  at the West Genesee High School upper gym the group will be holding an evening to explore mental wellness and substance abuse disorder.  There will be speakers and breakout sessions to learn more about these topics.


WG SEPTSA:

WG SEPTSA has their yearly Resource Fair coming up March 29 6:30pm-8:30pm in the WGHS library.   They have 30+ vendors lined up to participate  This fair gives families the opportunity to talk to staff from local agencies that can provide support and activities for students with special needs. Some of the groups that will be there are ARC of Onondaga, ARISE, Bluebird Music Together, Camillus Massage, Discovery Toys, Starbridge, Upstate, CNY Autism Consulting, OCC, Orenda Springs, SUPAC, EFR, Syracuse University, Kelberman Center, David's Refuge, NYS OPWDD, Families Together NYS/ Youth Power, Parent To Parent NYS, Gigi's Playhouse, Access CNY, Hutchings Crisis Respite, Epilepsy-Pralid, Hope Network, Advocates, Provisions Bakery & Yogibo.



Autism Walk:
April is Autism Awareness month.  The CNY Autism Society Association Autism Walk is being held April 15 at Longbranch Park.  For more information about the walk and other events for the month of April go to the CNYASA website, here.


Enjoy spring as the weather warms up- hopefully soon!


Sue

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Year is Flying By!



Well, our annual review season is in full swing. It's hard to believe that the year is over half down and we are starting to plan for next school year already, the year is flying by! 

As you prepare for and attend your child's annual review meeting, please be sure to ask any questions you have about next year. Review your child's IEP when you get it in the mail and contact their current teacher if you have any questions. For parents of students moving to middle or high school, we will have a special education teacher teacher from the building they are moving up to attend the annual review so you can ask questions about the transition. We value your input into the planning as your child moves on each year.

What's Going On Around Town


Caregiver Support Group:

The East Area YMCA is partnering with Show Them How Smart You Are to bring together those who care for individuals with Autism and special needs. Feel free to join to build relationships with other caregivers, and :on you. The first meeting is Friday January 26 and they will continue to meet on the 4th Friday of each month 6:30-7:30 p.m. For more information contact Morgan Ruggeri, Inclusion Director at (315) 637-2025 ext. 211 or mruggeri@syracuseymca.org.

WG SEPTSA:

The WG SEPTSA has a new new email address, if you need to contact them it's now wgseptsa18@gmail.com.

There are a few WG SEPTSA events coming up so mark your calendars.



Fairmount Fire Department Fish Dinners. Fairmount Fire Department Fish Dinners. The Fairmount Fire Department has generously chosen the WG SEPTSA to help at each supper and will provide us a percentage of their profits after the last dinner, the only fundraiser the WG SEPTSA conducts. The first dinner is Wednesday, February 14 from 4:00 p.m. and every Friday thereafter, February 16, February 23, March 2, March 9, March 16, March 23, and March 30.  

Resource Fair: The WG SEPTSA will host a Resource Fair on Thurs, March 29 from 6:30-8:30 PM in the high school library. Many have benefited from this opportunity to speak individually with representatives from dozens of local businesses and agencies which provide support & services to families who have a child with a disability. 

Other Upcoming Events

Transition after High School Event
ARISE and Cayuga Onondaga BOCES are co-sponsoring "Mission: Transition, Life After High School" a Transition Fair for high school students to be held at the Cayuga Onondaga BOCES Campus on March 22, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Students and families will learn about the options available to young adults to guide them through the process of transitioning from high school to employment and/or secondary education. There will be information tables with representatives from local agencies which provide post high school services that may be available to students and parents such as independent living services, employment services, social/recreation programs, transportation, military service, as well as information on benefits counseling. Light refreshments will be provided. For further information, contact Sara Douglass or 255-3447 x318 (sdouglass@ariseinc.org) or Alyssa Militello at (315) 671-4656 (amilitello@ariseinc.org).

SUPAC Events:
The Syracuse University Parent Advocacy Center offers many workshops throughout the year.  Click http://supac.org/ for their webpage to get information on a variety of upcoming events on topics such as Understanding Diploma and Credential Options for Students with Disabilities on February 28 and  Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten: CPSE to CSE on March 15.  Information and registration for these and other workshops are on the web page.

Enjoy what is left of this crazy winter weather; spring will be here soon enough!  And as always, please contact us if there is anything we can help with.

~Sue

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Valentine's Celebration for High School Students

High School Valentine's Day Celebration

The West Genesee Student Council is working to help include our students with disabilities into more events in the building so they can develop connections with peers.They will be hosting a Valentine's Day event for our high school aged students. Here is an excerpt from the letter they sent home to parents:

The West Genesee High School Student Council is hosting a Valentine's Day Celebration on February 13 from 2-3:30pm in Cafe 1. We would like to be unified in meeting the needs of all students and their social integration,comfort and sense of belonging in the high school. This celebration is geared toward promoting positive social connections and a fun outlet for our students. Your son/daughter is invited to attend.  There will be staff assistance at this event.

Student council members will be buddied up to students that attend and students will choose from options  such as dancing, crafts, and games. We want all students to feel connected and a part of their home school. Student Council would like to expand the concept of unified into our school setting in addition to the athletics. 

The students should have received a letter from their special education teachers with a permission slip to return if they would like to attend. If you have any questions about this event, please contact School Counselors Maura Secor or Lauren Navarra.