Friday, October 18, 2013
What is the SEPAC? The PAC is a mandated organization under the current Massachusetts Special Education Regulations and is tasked with “advising the district on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities; meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district's special education programs.” (Pursuant to 603 CMR §28.07(4)) The PAC is a group of parents and care providers dedicated to providing the community with information specifically targeted to the educational development of children with special needs. We are also a support network and sounding board for families of children with special needs. We work together to facilitate communications between families and the administrators and staff members of the Georgetown Public Schools. PAC Chairperson Shelby Walker, Esq………………… (H) 978.352.2072 (C) 978.270.6447 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 2013-2014 GEORGETOWN SEPAC MEETING SCHEDULE Most of our meetings are held on the Last Tuesday of each month in the Library at Penn Brook School (68 Elm Street) from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. The preliminary agenda for the year is as follows: September 24, 2013: Our first meeting of the year will feature Dr. Donna Straight, Ed.D., our Director of Special Education. Dr. Straight and other members of the Special Education Department will provide parents with an overview of the vision for the Special Education Department for the 2013-2014 school year. Additionally, parents will be able to ask questions and share concerns. October 17, 2013: Special Education Law and Advocacy Training by Pete Wright (of Wrightslaw.com). This is a one day special education and advocacy program that focuses on special education law, rights and responsibilities; tests and measurements to monitor progress and regression; SMART IEPS; and intorduction to tactics and strategies for effective advocacy. Please see www.wrightslaw.com/speak/13.10.ct.htm for registration details. Additionally, the PAC will sponsor one Georgetown parent to attend - first come, first serve basis if seats are still available. Transportation for up to two parents will be provided free of charge as well. Please email Shelby Walker at email@example.com by September 1st if interested in sponsorship and/or transportation. Location: Wilton, CT October 29, 2013: The Role of the BCBA & Behavorial Strategies and Social Skills: Increasing Your Child’s Social Interactions with Peers. This seminar will feature Georgetown’s resident BCBA’s Karissa Bonner (Perley) and Sarah Clifford (Penn Brook & Middle/High School). December 3, 2013: SEPAC Parents Holiday Coffee Connection. An informal gathering that will be hosted by the Chairperson at her home solely to offer support, networking and information sharing. Other topics will include: fundraising and parent participation. Refreshments will be served. Time & Date: 7:30PM at 108 Jackman Street, Georgetown. January 28, 2014: Effective Advocacy for Your Special Needs Child by Shelby Walker. Based loosely on the Best Seller “Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” co-authored by Harvard Law Professor Mr. Rodger Fisher, this seminar will focus on the do’s and don’ts of negotiation. Included: tips and strategies for how to be an effective advocate for your child while building trust and respect; and an overview of the “W’s” of Advocacy: When should I begin advocating for my child? What laws should I become familiar with? What else do I need in order to be an effective advocate? February 25, 2014: Practical Strategies for Strengthening Executive Function Skills by Dr. Molly Cook. This seminar will help teachers, parents and school administrators alike to address and plan for students who have impairments in their executive functioning skill sets. March 25, 2014: Diagnosis Overview: Language-Based Learning Disabilities (“LBLD”). Does your child struggle with reading, spelling and writing? Language-based learning disabilities are problems with age-appropriate reading, spelling, and/or writing. This disorder is not about how smart a person is. Most people diagnosed with learning disabilities have average to superior intelligence. This seminar will help parents understand: What are some signs of LBLDs? How are they diagnosed and by whom? Speaker: Panel Discussion by multiple Specialists, including CCC-SLPs from various service providers such as Clearly Speaking of Hampton Fall, NH. April 29, 2014: Assistive Technology Overview. Speaker: TBD June 17, 2014: End of the Year Wrap-Up and Shining Stars Awards. We would like to recognize Georgetown Educators, be they teachers, therapists, aides, support staff or administration, that have been exceptional in their support of our children and/or Special Education programs within the School District. Additional Trainings….. Transition Bootcamp: The PAC is pleased to announce that, in partnerships with The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport and Parent Advisory Councils of Haverhill, Newburyport, North Andover and Pentucket, we will be sponsoring a “Transition Bootcamp”. The Bootcamp comprises a series of workshops to help guide and prepare teachers, parents and students with resources and information for the Transition years, ages 14-22. This is a must attend for all parents with children approaching 14 or older. Workshops include: (i) The Post-Secondary Years: College Options - Projected date October, 2013 • Learn about what local colleges have to offer students with Intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Hear from college faculty and parents and students who have attended these programs. Participating colleges include Northern Essex Community College, North Shore Community College and Mass Bay Community College. • Location : Newburyport (TBD) (ii) Ready for Turning 18: Legal Planning and Benefits- Projected Dates 10/29 and Tuesdays in November, 2103 • A local attorney specializing in Special Needs Guardianship and related matters will provide information on what reaching the age of majority really means and will include information on guardianship and the alternatives, benefits and services. • Location: Georgetown (Penn Brook Library) (iii) Financial Planning: The Essentials Every Family Must Know- projected dates-November, 2013 • Cynthia Haddad from Shepard Financial Partners will provide information on the steps families can take to insure the care and well-being of their family members with disabilities. • Location: Pentucket (TBD) (iv) Teacher’s Toolkit: Workshops for Educators on the Transition Process. Projected dates: One session during Oct/Nov – perhaps during half days. • The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport will provide educators with information on Transition Planning- the timelines and process. Strategies on how to include the student in the IEP will be shared. • Locations: TBD (v) Transition Clinic: An informal discussion on the Transition years. Learn when to begin and what the timelines are. Projected date: November, 2013 • What can families do to prepare their sons and daughters for the future? This small group discussion will provide a guide for the Transition years, the process, checkpoints and essential timelines. Facilitated by The Arc of Greater Haverhill Newburyport • Location: Haverhill (vi) Transition Bootcamp Basics: Getting Our Kids Ready for the Transition Years. Projected date, March, 2014 • Entering the teen years brings lots of opportunities to get our kids ready for adulthood! Learn about strategies to increase independence, developing a vision, self-advocacy, self-determination and Transition Planning with your IEP Team. • Presented by Pat Pakos, M.Ed, The Arc of Massachusetts • Location: Haverhill (vii) Ask the Expert: Legal Planning Clinic. Projected date: March, 2014 • A local attorney will provide answers to your questions on the legal processes, benefits and resources that can happen when your family members turns 18. This clinic will be held in a small relaxed setting- it is like getting a consultation for free! Sign up quickly as the registrations will be limited. • Location: Haverhill ARC Offices (viii) Ready for Life! When the School Bus Stops Coming. Projected date- April, 2014 • As your sons and daughters approach leaving school “life on the other side” can be a mystery. Learn about housing, employment and day options, and community involvement. Hear from a panel of self-advocates and families who reached 22. What were the pitfalls and successes? • Location: Pentucket (ix) Transition Clinic: An informal discussion on the Transition years. Learn when to begin and what the timelines are. Projected date: April, 2014 • What can families do to prepare their sons and daughters for the future? This small group discussion will provide a guide for the Transition years, the process, checkpoints and essential timelines. Facilitated by The Arc of Greater Haverhill Newburyport • Location: Newburyport YWCA
Friday, March 29, 2013
April 9, 2013 – Tuesday, 7-8:30pm - “Extended School Year: What is ESY, who is eligible and what are Georgetown’s Service Delivery Models?” with Dr. Donna Straight, Director of Special Education for Georgetown Public Schools. At the Penn Brook Library, 68 Elm St., Georgetown, MA May 7 2013– Tuesday, 7-8:30pm - "Dual Diagnosis in both Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health - What does this mean?” Dr. Katherine Canada, Chief of Admissions and Outreach for The Guild of Human Services will be our keynote speaker. She will be presenting on tips for parenting youth with DD/MH dual diagnoses and finding compassion and connections for them and the family members who love them. Dr. Canada is a Developmental Psychologist and she has dedicated her professional life to the fields of education and human services. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Butler University and her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the Penn Brook Library, 68 Elm St., Georgetown, MA June 4, 2013 - Tuesday - 7-8:30pm - The Shining Star Awards & The Georgetown SEPAC’s Final Meeting - We would like to recognize Georgetown Educators, be they teachers, therapists, aides, support staff or administration, that have be exceptional in their support of our children and/or Special Education programs within the School District. If you would like to nominate someone, please send me an email by May 24th, along with a statement as to why they are exceptional. At the Penn Brook Library, 68 Elm St., Georgetown, MA.
Monday, January 7, 2013
Next SEPAC Meeting on February 5th at 7:00 PM at the Penn Brook Library Dear All: We will not have a January meeting. However, we have two upcoming meetings that should prove to be beneficial to all our members: 1) Dr. Molly Cook will join us on February 5th to discuss “Practical Strategies for Strengthening Executive Function Skills.” 2) We will be co-hosting a Friends Project Presentation “Introduction to Friends” at the Newburyport High School on March 5th from 7-9 PM. Practical Strategies for Strengthening Executive Function Skills by Dr. Molly Cook: This presentation will help teachers, parents and school administrators alike to address and plan for students who have impairments in their executive functioning skill sets. What is executive functioning and why is it important? Executive functioning is the mental process that helps students apply past learning experiences to present situations, and involves activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details. It also includes the ability to manage time and personal space. A leading expert in executive functions, Philip David Zelazo of the University of Minnesota, describes them as "the deliberate, goal-directed control of behavior." More importantly, strong executive functioning skills (creativity, flexibility, self-control, and discipline) have been shown to be predictive of school success (even more so than IQ tests). See e.g. Diamond, A. & Lee, K. Science 333(6045):959-964 (2011). Deficits in executive functioning can present as inability or difficulty in: · Making Plans · Organization · Keeping track of time/finishing work on time · Multitasking · Switching focus to different topics · Remembering past details · regulating speech or behavior How do executive functioning impairments present in a child? Does your child keep a messy room or have difficulty following instructions? Does your child have trouble paying attention, sitting still when peers do not or loses his/her possessions regularly? Does your child need to be nagged excessively to remember daily tasks or forget to turn in homework assignments? If you any yes to any of these questions, then you would benefit from Dr. Cook’s expertise. About Dr. Molly Cook: Dr. Cook is a licensed psychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of childhood and adolescent learning disabilities and emotional disorders. In her practice, Dr. Cook provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and teenagers who present with symptoms of learning disorders, executive dysfunction, AD/HD, anxiety, depression, and social communication difficulties. Dr. Cook also provides therapeutic treatment, and she is especially excited to offer therapeutic tutoring, which is a hybrid treatment combining traditional psychotherapy and skill building. This service is especially useful for children who have organizational issues, difficulty with written expression, or problems learning and retaining information. Therapeutic tutoring combines practical and concrete skills-based intervention with psychotherapy, and allows a child to enhance areas of weakness and feel good at the same time. Dr. Cook has trained and worked in the Massachusetts area for almost a decade. Her training is diverse and has included a two-year fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology at Neuropsychology and Education Services for Children and Adolescents (NESCA) under the supervision of Ann Helmus, PhD, a leading field expert. Dr. Cook has also trained at the Klarman Eating Disorder Center at McLean Hospital and at Franciscan Hospital for Children. Since 2005, Dr. Cook has held a position at Architects For Learning, a private practice in Needham, MA that specializes in the treatment of organizational and written expression disorders, and is run by Bonnie Singer, PhD. Through her work at AFL, Dr. Cook is EmPOWER and Brain Frame certified. Dr. Cook recently opened the North Shore Center for Neuropsychology in Marblehead, and her office is open for referrals. Her website is: http://www.northshoreneuropsychology.com For more information on executive functioning, please see: Executive Function Fact Sheet: http://www.ncld.org/ld-basics/ld-aamp-executive-functioning/basic-ef-facts/executive-function-fact-sheet Executive Functioning and Learning Disabilities: http://www.ncld.org/ld-basics/ld-aamp-executive-functioning/basic-ef-facts/executive-functioning-and-learning-disabilities March 5th - Introduction to Friends: Discussing Ways to Help Establish and Sustain Relationships Between People With and Without Disabilities by Jim Ross: This training is designed primarily for groups of parents (and other family members) and people with disabilities, although staff from support agencies may also find it helpful. An ideal group would be about 20 people, although we will present to smaller or larger audiences. The presentation includes discussion and resources on building relationships between people with disabilities and people without disabilities of all ages, but it can be revised to concentrate on “Kids”, “Transition-Aged Youth” or “Adults”, depending on the composition of the audience. The training is pretty informal and invites lots of audience participation (we’re learning from you, too!) and covers: · What do we mean by “Friend” in these modern times? · What are the benefits of friendships? Are there any specific benefits to be found in relationships between people with disabilities and people without disabilities? · What are some of the obstacles or challenges we may encounter that might make it difficult for people to make relationships? · How can we figure out where to put our limited time and energy if relationships and friendships are a priority for us? · What are some of the existing approaches—formal and informal—that have proved successful in helping people with and without disabilities become friends? · Where can we find more information related to “Relationships” and “Friendships”, including people we can contact who might be of further help? Please note that this is at the Newburyport High School!! We look forward to having interactive and informative discussions during both of these events! Shelby Walker, Chairperson Georgetown Special Education Parents Advisory Council