This month’s Bright Spot comes from Karen Gatto, Director of Pupil Personnel in Croton-Harmon.  In the past few years the district has helped students successfully exit from the 12:1:2 high school Special Class.

What were students able to achieve?

* They passed Regents level classes with support.

* They joined clubs with typical peers.

* They attended general education health, PE, and elective courses and found new interests. One student became a photographer for athletic teams. The other held a class officer position. The students have made new friends outside of the special class setting.

* Their self-esteem and confidence has increased.

* Their communicative ability and self advocacy have increased.

What practices or systems made this possible?

⇒ Students attend their CSE meetings and practice self advocacy; professionals “listen” better than ever before.

⇒ Students are taking general education classes and working towards a CDOS Credential; staff have higher expectations for students.

⇒ The CSE thinks creatively and “outside the box”. The team took risks, trying new things.

⇒ The CSE listened to parents and worked as a partner with them. Parents provided effective follow up support outside of school.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

Principles 1, 2, 3, and 6 from the NYS Blueprint for Improved Results for Students with Disabilities are specifically evident in our experience:

1. Students engage in self-advocacy and are involved in determining their own educational goals and plans.

2. Parents, and other family members, are engaged as meaningful partners in the special education process and the education of their child.

3. Teachers design, provide, and assess the effectiveness of specially designed instruction to provide students with disabilities access to participate and progress in the general education curriculum.

4. Schools provide high-quality inclusive programs and activities.

Never say never!