Tuesday, February 7, 2017

So Many Events in Our Community

Well, CNY certainly doesn't rest just because its winter! I have been receiving emails with a number of things going on in our area that would be of interest to many of our families, so I want to share them with you. Please feel free to go to any of the websites associated with these groups to receive emails directly from them. There are some really great activities and workshops for students and families that happen right in our area.

Syracuse University Parent Assistance Center (SUPAC)                     
SUPAC will be holding two events in the upcoming days for families nearing high school and graduation. To view the SUPAC website use this link http://supac.org/

They will have a session called Understanding Diploma and Credential Options for Students with Disabilities. This workshop will explain the different diploma and credential options for students with disabilities. It will be held February 14 from 12:00-2:00 p.m. at Advocates Inc., 636 Old Liverpool Road, Liverpool. There is also a session in Oneida on February 28. Here is the link to register.

They are also holding an Information Session on Inclusive U. Inclusive U is a program that allows students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to attend and experience college. For more information click here. This information session will be February 15 from 2:30- 3:30 p.m. Register here.

Central New York Autism Society of America (CNY ASA)

CNY ASA puts out a monthly newsletter that has quite a bit of information. This month's addition is attached here. Please look it over as there are some great winter activities for students and families like snowmobiling and tubing, sensory friendly showings of movies (A Dog's Purpose is this weekend!) as well as information about the Autism Awareness Walk in April. Please feel free to look at their website and sign up to receive their newsletter with this link http://www.cnyasa.org/.

Hope you all are able to enjoy some of these events.

Take Care,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Winter is Still Here

It looks like winter is making another appearance with bits of snow, and I must admit the view out of our office is beautiful. Hopefully everyone is managing to stay healthy, the flu is here with a vengeance from what I am hearing!

There are a few things coming up that I wanted to share.

On February 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the WGHS library the West Genesee Special Education PTSA presents Dr Nicole DeRosa for a talk on Autism: Strategies for Families. Dr DeRosa, PsyD, BCBA-D, LBA is the Director of Behavior Disorders Clinic and Family Behaviors Analysis Program at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital. She will be discussing effective strategies for increasing appropriate, functional skills and preventing challenging behavior in children with developmental disabilities and autism.

I have recently been made aware of an opportunity to join a research study for students with Autism here in Syracuse. Leanne Morphet, a parent in our District, has written a letter to Darlene and I explaining the research that is being done. Please click here to read the letter if you are interested in finding out more about this project.

Hope everyone stays healthy and warm!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January is Speeding By

Well, January seems to speeding by - its hard to believe we are almost half way through the school year. Every year seems to go by even faster to me- some may say that means you're getting older; I refuse to believe that!

Just a few notes and reminders:

Students Getting Ready forKindergarten:
Kindergarten registration has begun early this year. For those of you with preschool students who will be coming to Kindergarten in September, you do need to register so we know you plan to have your child attend Kindergarten. If you are opting to have your child stay in preschool an extra year or will be sending them to a school other than our District elementary schools, please contact our office to let us know so we can help you plan accordingly. You can contact our CPSE chairperson, Christina Smith, at 315-487-4662 if you have questions.

Annual Reviews:
We have started our spring annual reviews. All students will be having their annual reviews between now and May. The IEPs being written at these meetings will be for the 2017-18 school year as we plan ahead. If you have questions about your child's program for next year, especially if they are moving to middle or high school, please give me a call. It's never too soon to ask questions.

Sensory Friendly Pack at the Dome:
I also want to share with you a wonderful offer for students with sensory needs. One of our Physical Therapists found that the Jim & Juli Boeheim Foundation and Life is Washable, Inc., are teaming up to bring Friendly Access Sensory Safety Kits™ to the Carrier Dome. 

These are items in an orange drawstring bag that will be available at the Carrier Dome. These will help student swith sensory needs enjoy events at the Dome beginning January 14.  Click here for the link to more information.

Have a good January
- Sue

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Holiday Season

Hopefully everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving with family and friends. My family and I were lucky enough to be able to fly out of Syracuse during the snow to spend the holiday with my parents; in
sunny Florida! I must say it was wonderful to leave the snow and enjoy the sunshine one last time before winter. I love the way the snow looks, but really could do without the cold temperatures it brings. And now its December and on to the holiday season; this year is flying right by!!

Special Education PSTA Speaker
On December 8, Dean Tzivanis will be at the West Genesee Special Education PTSA meeting presenting information about a couple of programs Onondaga Community College (OCC) offers for students with disabilities who are planning to attend college. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and is held in the high school library. In my first blog this year I described them so please feel free to look back for details but here is a quick synopsis:

The Onondaga Pathways to Careers program at OCC aims to provide support and remove barriers for students with disabilities interested in specific technology majors at OCC. The goal is to assist students with disabilities gain the necessary academic and non-academic credentials/skills to obtain a living wage job in the CNY region.

In addition, OCC has begun the OPC Scholars Program, which provides high school seniors with disabilities an opportunity to engage in post-secondary education planning, career exploration, and learning about the different resources available to college students with disabilities.  

Both programs are relatively new at OCC, and there is optimism that this program has all the elements needed to help students with disabilities succeed in college, and in the workforce.

These are opportunities for every student who is not on track to receive a regents Diploma 
and interested in pursuing a higher education after leaving West Genesee High School.

Sports Opportunity
I had a parent share with me a wonderful sounding opportunity for students who may be interested in tennis. ACEing Autism is an organization that was founded in 2008 in Boston, MA. They have expanded to a number of cities and offer services and programs for students with autism across the country. To learn more about  ACEing Autism, click here. 

They will be holding a tennis program at Drumlins that runs January through February. Here is the link for more information on this program: Tennis at Drumlins.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Upcoming Training Opportunities

I wanted to pass on some information regarding an upcoming training.

Training for Parent Members of CSE                                  

As many of you know, there have been changes in the mandated members in a CSE meetings per NYS regulations. In the past, school districts were mandated to have a parent member sit in on CSE meetings. This parent was someone who lives in  the district and has a child with a disability who could provide support for a parent who's child was being discussed at CSE. A few years ago, the regulations changed and a parent member is no longer required.

This being said, parents can choose to ask for a parent member to join a meeting. Due to many more of our parents working or families who's students have now graduated, we have very few folks in district who are parent members. Syracuse University Parent Assistance Center (SUPAC) is offering a free training for any parent who may want to become a parent member. They are offering this training on November 29 for free. If anyone is interested, please let me know as I will need to register you.  Here are the details:


Tuesday, November 29, 2016
9:30 AM-1:00 PM

Mid-State RSE-TASC Region 6
110 Elwood Davis Rd, Owasco Room
Liverpool, NY 13088

Presented by:
Erica Morat, Regional Special Education Training Specialist
Mid-State Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers (RSE-TASC)

Kristine O’Brien, Parent Outreach Specialist
Syracuse University Parent Assistance Center (SUPAC)
The Mid-State Special Education Technical Assistance Parent Center

The Syracuse University Parent Assistance Center (SUPAC) in collaboration with the Mid-State and Central Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers (RSE-TASC) provides this NYSED vetted training. This three and a half hour training is designed to certify individuals to become a CPSE/CSE Parent Member while ensuring that all members of the CPSE/CSE team work together effectively. The target audience is current or soon-to-be parent members of the CPSE/CSE. It is designed to assist all parent members of the CPSE/CSE in building their base of knowledge about the Committee process and to fulfill their role on the Committee as defined by New York State regulations. Participants will learn the steps of the special education process, basic vocabulary, laws, and regulations pertaining to students with disabilities and understand a child's special education rights.  ­­­As mentioned, this training is designed for those parents looking to fulfill the education requirement to become a CPSE/CSE Parent Member; however, all parents wanting to learn more about the special education process are encouraged to attend. Participants who are planning to be CPSE/CSE Parent Members will receive a certificate to share with their School District.

This Parent Member session will also be streamed live. **Only school district personnel can register parents for this online session.**

To register parents for the webinar, please email names and email addresses of your parents to Kristine O’Brien at kpobrien@syr.edu no later than November 21, 2016.

Chairs are encouraged to attend with a Parent Member. This is a free training; however, registration is required! Space is limited!  To register, go to: http://supac.org/training/register-supac-trainings/ or register by phone at 315- 443-4336 or toll free 877-824-9555.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Fall Update

Well it certainly feels like fall these days! It's hard to believe that October is almost over. Though I really love the changing colors of fall, I am not quite ready for the cold and snow yet. Since the colder months are coming, I wanted to share with you some upcoming things families could take advantage of.

New Way to Plan for the Future

I just recently read about a new savings plan for parents of students with disabilities. It is set up in a similar fashion to the 529 account parents set up for saving for college, but is called a 529 ABLE savings account. Here is the link to find out more about it: 529 ABLE savings account.

West Genesee Special Education PTSA

I attended the West Genesee Special Education PTSA meeting this week. This group runs in similar fashion to a school PTA. They plan events and opportunities for students with disabilities and their families to participate in that accommodate students' special needs. Click here for their brochure with their meeting dates and contact information.

They have a few events planned so far this year. They go bowling, plan to have a Bowl-a-thon in the spring do sensory friendly events, will be having a resource fair later this year, and have planned a family picnic in June.

Upcoming Events

Saturday November 5, the group will be doing a Nature Walk at Orenda Springs from 1:00-3:00 p.m.. Orenda Springs is located on 4939 Lawless Rd, Marcellus.

The have a series of bowling events planned as well. They will be bowling at the Solvay Recreational Lanes on the second Sunday of the month beginning November 1 . These bowling days will start at 12;00 p.m.  The Special Education PTSA will underwrite the fee for shoe rental and 2 games for children under age 16; the cost for all others is $10 each. Drinks and snacks will be provided. Solvay Lanes is located at 1737 Milton Ave, Solvay. They can accommodate all levels of bowling and are equipped with a  bowling ramp for those who need it. 

If you would like to participate in either of these events, please email the group at wgseptsa@westgenesee.org so they can plan for you to attend.

I have also learned about a Sensory Friendly Jump at Sky Zone through the Special Education PTSA. On Sunday mornings at SKY Zone, 3179 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse they have sensory friendly Jump Time from 9:00-11:00 a.m., where they turn down the sound and lights, but not the fun! The cost is $9.99 in advance and $13.99 at the door.I hope everyone has a wonderful fall; hopefully the snow will hold of just a bit longer! 


Monday, September 26, 2016

Feels Like Fall

Well, with the chill in the air the past few nights it certainly feels like fall is here, it won't be long before the leaves are falling too. I love the changing colors of the trees.

We are off to a great start this year. Darlene and I have been around to the buildings and our students and staff are all working hard already.

As a Director of Special Education, my focus is truly on helping our students with special needs receive the education they need to be successful when they graduate. That being said, there is more to helping our students and families meet their children's special needs than just at school. From time to time we get information about events in the community that are specially designed for people with disabilities. I would like to try to share as many of these as I can, so please feel free to email me if you hear of any that I can share.

Mary Poppins
One of our physical therapists saw an article on Syracuse.com sharing that Syracuse Stage will be doing a "sensory-friendly" performance of Mary Poppins in January. This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for a family outing!

As luck would have it, our high school is also doing Mary Poppins this year in February as well. So for all you who grew up watching Mary Poppins like I did, there will be multiple opportunities to see it this winter.

Explaining CSE
I had the opportunity to do a presentation to our Board of Education last week about how CSE and CPSE work. As you know, after we do CSE meetings the Board of Education approves services for students based on the outcome of meetings. This is done anonymously; no names are on the documents. It was helpful for them to have an understanding of what goes on in our meetings as most of them have never attended one. They had great questions and were very appreciative of the information shared.

I also just wanted to remind everyone that we will now be doing all of our annual review meetings in the spring. That is, with the exception of graduating Seniors. Their meetings will be held in December to allow for them to plan for after graduation in June.

Have a wonderful week