The Special Education Department of the ConVal School District consists of state certified and highly trained professionals in the field of education, psychology, assessment, social work, orientation and mobility, occupational and physical therapy, vision and speech/language therapy. This staff collaborates with other educators, administrators, families and area agencies to meet the educational needs of those children who are experiencing challenges in our schools. We help to identify individual strengths and challenges of each student by using formal and informal assessment techniques, observations and interviews. We engage in creative problem solving with multidisciplinary teams to develop effective strategies for intervention. We assist with program development and implementation. ConVal’s focus is always striving to include students with disabilities in the general education classroom to the greatest extent possible.
Numerous special education programs exist within the ConVal School District to provide a continuum of placement and support options for students. In the elementary school, the Education Support Team Program provides early intervention, pre-referral intervention and specialized instruction to children. This program puts highly trained and experienced special educators in each building. The Educational Support Teachers are the team leaders and “go-to” people for each student with special needs enrolled in the respective buildings. The Educational Support Teacher can be the child’s advocate, assessor, instructor, and resource coordinator and case manager. The purpose of the Educational Support Team is to provide needed and authentic intervention and potentially evaluation services as early and as quickly as possible to meet the needs of the children.
Modified, regular and resource room special education programs are available to identified students in all eleven ConVal schools. Additionally Life Skills Programs are offered at Peterborough Elementary School, South Meadow School and ConVal High School. Emotional Support/Alternative Programs are available to students at Great Brook School, South Meadow School and the ConVal High School. Each of these highly specialized programs is aimed at providing intensive support services to students with educational needs in the general education environment to the greatest extent possible.
Additionally, the Special Education Department operates four integrated preschool programs called First Friends. The preschools, located at the elementary schools in Antrim, Greenfield, and Peterborough, provide extremely high quality programming and low staff to student ratios for both children with special needs and those who are developing typically. Emphasis is placed on developmentally appropriate teaching practices and learning activities, pre-academic and social development, citizenship, tolerance and appreciation to differences. Additionally, preschoolers with special needs are placed throughout the district in community preschool programs, as appropriate, with special education supports and services provided as needed.
Parents, teachers and administrators continue to examine the scope and purpose of special education, with an eye toward improving its effectiveness, efficiency and consistency. A crucial goal for our department is to establish and continually strengthen effective communication, collaboration, trust, understanding and team process among educators and between home, school and area agencies to better meet the needs of our students.