Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Quite the Winter So Far!

Well, it certainly has been quite the winter so far! Between closings and delays its been tough to get everyone into a routine since the break over the holidays. Hopefully, March will be a little better.


Vacation Planning
Going on a family vacation takes a lot of planning, even more for families who have a family member with special needs. While these vacations can create wonderful memories it can also be very stressful. A friend recently shared an article with me about a water park in Orlando that is a Certified Autism Center. The staff at Aquatica Orlando has completed autism sensitivity and awareness training. Their goal is to assist guests with ASD and their families so they can have a positive experience during their visit to the park. It also mentions that Sesame Place in PA was the world's first Certified Autism Center park last April. For more information on Aquatica Orlando click here .


Rescheduled Resource Fair
The Resource Fair that was supposed to be held in Marcellus and was cancelled due to weather has been rescheduled. This free event will now be held on Thursday, March 28 at Driver Middle School. The goal is to help bridge the gap between school and community.  Attendees will learn about the services available to students to assist them in reaching their full potential. It starts with a  keynote speaker discussing Disability Awareness at 6:30 p.m. There will be breakout sessions and information tables available from 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. If there are any questions about this event, feel free to contact Roxanne Tangredi at rtangredi@marcellusschools.org.

As always, contact me if you have any questions.

Take Care,
~ Sue

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Upcoming Event: Getting Organized

Getting Organized: Preparing for Your Child's IEP Meeting

The WG SEPTSA is hosting a presentation by SUPAC to help parents get ready for their child's IEP meeting. on February 4, 2019. This presentation is open to the public and will be held at the West Genesee High School from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the LGI Room. This room is located on the Applebees side of the building. Please park near the Transportation office.


This training is an expansion on “Creating a Special Education Notebook” that covers: 


  • Tips on preparing for child’s Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting
  • Discuss the purpose of the CSE meeting 
  • Roles and responsibilities of CSE members 
  • Important documentation you should have 
  • What kinds of questions to ask at a CSE meeting 
  • How to collaborate with CSE team members 
Every parent walks away with a notebook filled with resources that will help them  navigate the special education process.

Online Registration: http://supac.org/training/register-supac-training/

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone was able to enjoy a relaxing holiday season with family and friends. We were  fortunate enough to have our whole family together; it was busy but lots of fun. I was able to check something off my bucket list too. My daughter surprised me with a trip to NYC to see the Rockettes Christmas Show and it was so incredible. A precious memory that will stay with me for a very long time.

As we get back into the swing of things, I just wanted to remind everyone that annual reviews will be starting up in the next few weeks. If you have any questions about transitioning to new building whether it be from elementary to middle school, middle to high school, or from preschool to elementary school, feel free to contact Darlene or I. We're always happy to talk with you and answer any questions.

Upcoming Event

Marcellus is sponsoring a Community Resource Fair at the end of the month and is open to families, students, and school staff from any district in grades K-12. This fair seeks to bridge the gap between school and community. Attendees will learn about the services available to students to assist them in reaching their full potential.

This free event will be held on Thursday, January 31, 2019 at Driver Middle School (2 Reed Parkway, Marcellus). The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a keynote speaker discussing Disability Awareness. A few breakout sessions and information tables will be available from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The goal of the Community Resource Fair is to provide students with disabilities and their families with information on services and programs that are available to assist them in planning for the future. Feel free to contact Alyssa Militello at amilitello@ariseinc.org or 315-671-4656 with any questions!

I'm sure we'll be seeing many of you soon. 

Take Care
~Sue

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Year is Flying By!


I can't believe that it is time for the holidays- the year is flying by! I am looking forward to the time with my family; my children will be home from college on Friday. I am eager to have them home, our quiet house will be busy again and I can not wait.This is also a time of year when we reconnect and celebrate with family, friends and other special people in our lives. I want to share with you a little about one of those people who is special to us in our office.


As  many of you know, Sylvia McCarthy has been one of our Special Education Department secretaries for 17 years. She will be retiring over the holiday break. Sylvia has been so much more than just "the voice on the phone" for us. She has helped more than one parent, teacher, and administrator work their way through the world of special education. Sylvia has a wonderful sense of humor, offers help no matter what the needs may be, and is a calm, reassuring support to all of us. I have had the privilege of working with Sylvia for my entire administrative career and she has become a dear friend. If you call the office in the next couple of weeks, please feel free to wish her well. Our new secretary, Patty Lewis, will start with us over the break.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.
~Sue

Monday, November 5, 2018

Fall is Here

Well, fall is definitely here. The leaves are mostly gone and the temperatures are certainly cooler.

While it seems that all that's on tv and the news now are  political ads and stories, I recently heard an inspiring story I wanted to share as well as an opportunity for students and an exciting new study for diagnosing Autism.

Nike Signs It's First Professional Athlete with a Disability
As I watched the news recently there was a story about a young man who recently became a pro athlete and signed a contract with Nike.  What makes this young man, Justin Gallegos  unique in that despite having Cerebral Palsy, he has become a professional runner.  He is has struggled with walking, using a  walker throughout his childhood and dreamed of being a  professional runner.  Nike recently surprised the college junior with a 3-year contract.  They have also developed a running shoe for people with disabilities with a zippered heel.  For Justin's story, click here.

Other Information to Share
Mrs. Bush, our librarian at CMS, recently shared some information with me about a local theater group that supports people with disabilities who love to perform.  Front Row Players  is a nonprofit group that was organized to teach dramatic performance to people of all abilities.  Quite a few years ago when I was a middle school special education teacher, I had a student who participated in a  similar group.  I remember attending the performance of A Midsummer's Night's Dream and the thrill of seeing her perform with a group of people so passionate about their performance.  I would encourage anyone who has a child who loves to perform to check out their upcoming performance in December to see what it's all about.  They will be doing another play in the spring with auditions happening in January. You find their website here at Front Row Players.


Autism Study
I attended the WG SEPTSA meeting last week.  The group had some great ideas for activities and speakers for the near future.  One member, Olivia Colabufo, also shared that she and her son have recently participated in saliva test  at Upstate to help diagnose Autism.  Watch the video with information on the Clarifi Autism Saliva Test for children.



Stay dry!  Sue

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Off to a Good Start

The calendar says its fall and the weather is certainly starting to feel like it. We've gotten off to a good start this year. It's been great to see the students back and to hear about the wonderful things they are doing. We have students participating in fall sports and going on field trips already and are looking ahead to more this year.

Upcoming Events

SUPAC Series
SUPAC has a variety of trainings that will be taking place throughout the area this year. For information on trainings and other events they hold, visit http://supac.org/.

SUPAC is offering a four part series called "Family Connections: Meaningful Engagement in the Special Education Process" which will be held in the Baldwinsville School District. The topics will include:
  • The Special Education Process- October 3
  • How to Involve and Encourage Student Participation in the IEP Process - November 14
  • Getting Organized: Preparing for Your CSE Meetings- January 6
  • Understanding the IEP- March 27
For more information and to register for these and other sessions click here.

WGSEPTSA
I want to share the link to the WGSEPTSA for anyone who is interested. This group strives to support families of students with disabilities and provide information as well as fun events for students and their families throughout the year. Look here for details on their meeting dates, times and locations.

Have a wonderful weekend
~Sue

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