FAX (914)220-3095

Dr. Anthony T. Minotti

Assistant Superintendent

for Student Support Services



                                                September 8, 2008


Dear Parents:


          I hope your summer provided opportunities for you and your family to relax and enjoy a variety of new outdoor learning experiences.  This school year will provide many new opportunities to extend these new learning experiences for your children.  From Pre-k through 12, Student Support Services staff has worked this summer to continuously improve programs and services for your children.


          Children at the elementary level will be experiencing new activities in the fine motor centers in all kindergarten classes.  All kindergarteners will also be screened in the areas of speech phonology and fine motor to identify any learning needs.  The writing curriculum, Preventing Academic Failure (PAF) will be part of all grades 1-2-3, and new integrated co-taught classes (13) will be spread throughout all elementary schools.  Our elementary general and special education teachers have been working this summer with consultants to design curriculum activities for the co-taught classes.   The consultants will continue to work with the teachers monthly throughout the school year.  We have also implemented a new 3-4-5 specialized class for children with autism at Mamaroneck Avenue School.  This new class will provide the opportunity for these children to remain in the District for their entire Prek-12 school experience. 


          At the secondary level, Karen Gatto, is our new Director of Secondary Special Education. Karen brings 18 years of administration experience as a Director of Special Education to the District.  Karen has been working in the District throughout the month of August, and has hit the ground running.


          Transition services will be a major focus at the secondary level for grades 8-12.  Our new Transition Counselor will be working with students and parents to develop individual transition plans (ITP’s), to facilitate a smooth transition from school to adult life.


          At the high school, several changes have been made to continue to improve learning experiences for students.  A new specialized program (SUCCESS) has been designed and implemented to meet the needs of students who need clinical, transition, and academic acceleration support.  A new psychologist was hired to assist in this program.  Another new program (Transition Academy) was created for students who need more of a focus on employability skills blended with high school course requirements.  The curriculum in the special academic classes was modified this summer by the special education teachers to provide new interdisciplinary and multi-sensory learning experiences for students. 


          A seminar period was also added to the schedule for students in the special academic classes.  The seminar period will provide new learning activities for high school students in the areas of life and employability skills, problem solving, etc…  These seminars will be taught by school psychologists, the transition counselor and special education teachers. 






          A new MHS social worker was hired to support students in the APPLE Program (Alternative Ed) and to assist Hispanic students at the high school.  Social Workers Prek-12 will coordinate programs for Hispanic students, with a new brochure in Spanish describing what services are available for parents Prek-12.  This year the District calendar will be published in Spanish.


          In the area of Assistive Technology (Prek -12), we have not been able to fill the position for an Assistive Technology (AT) Specialist; however, we have increased our outside AT consult time with staff to implement all AT devices.  This will be a major area of focus for us this year in developing a system wide structure to embed AT into the daily curriculum, instruction and assessment learning opportunities for students in need.


          These creative changes throughout the District have also provided new learning opportunities for several students who have returned from out-of-district placements.  Welcome back students and parents!


          As you continue to read the attached 2008-2009 Areas of Focus for Student Support Services, you will see the “big picture” of a complex continuous improvement plan process with a strong commitment from the Board of Education and Central Office staff.  However, it is the true dedication, perseverance and collaboration of our teachers, related services staff, and administrators that puts the Areas of Focus into action daily with your children.


          Our newly formed Special Education Task Force including staff and parents will meet throughout the school year, to focus on areas that were identified in the 2007-2008 Special Education Program Review.  On October 21, 2008, a Student Support Services Report will be presented to the BOE.  It is mandated that every two years a Special Education Plan must be reviewed and a new plan developed.  The report to the BOE will focus on the outcomes of the 2005-06/2006-07 Plan and a proposal for a new Plan will be shared.  At the end of this school year, I will be reporting to SEPTA and the BOE on the outcomes of our 2008-2009 initiatives. 


          Our school psychologists have been busy this summer creating K-12 a Social Skills Resource Guide that includes research-based practices to help children improve social development skills.  The Guide will be used by staff in schools.  The Psychologists have also developed parent workshop presentations with the theme, “Setting Limits for Your Child”. These workshops will be presented throughout the school year.


          The Curriculum Department staff, under the leadership of Annie Ward, is collaborating with Student Support Services to design the mandated Response to Intervention structure that will be implemented in 2010-2011.  You will be kept informed of all the regular education curriculum, instruction and assessment initiatives that will benefit all students.


          The English as a Second Language (ESL) K-12 services have been shifted to Student Support Services.  Mary Diffley, Coordinator of ESL and the ESL teachers will be joining our department staff.


          We are eager to continue the exciting partnerships we have established with SEPTA, PTA Council, the Mamaroneck Grant Foundation, Hispanic Resource Center and other community agencies.  Our ongoing efforts are to improve programs and services for all children. 


          Have a very productive and enjoyable school year.  We look forward to working with you and your children.








cc:  P. Fried, Superintendent of Schools

Attach:  2008-2009 Areas of Focus