Special Education Service Providers Overview
The mission of the special education department, in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act 2004 and NYS Regulations, is to service all students with pre-referral strategies, intervention enhancements, and special education services in the least restrictive environment while meeting state and federal guidelines in a cost effective manner. The Onteora educational community advocates not only for the academic needs of students, but also for the physical and psychological well being of students.
Special Education Teachers
The special education teachers provide additional (direct and indirect) instruction and classroom support for classified students as well as students at risk of not achieving the NYS learning standards. Intervention techniques include multi-sensory reading strategies, co-teaching, pre-teaching, re-teaching, organizational skills instruction, utilization of visual and tactile learning materials to reinforce skills and support the vast majority of students who benefit from a multisensory approach, and modify/breakdown and provide additional practice to support instruction. Special education teachers provide services in either a push-in or pull-out model, as determined by student need.
School psychologists tailor their services to meet the particular needs of each student and each situation and school. Although school psychologists use many different approaches and work in a variety of settings, most provide a number of core services. These services include counseling, consultation, education, prevention, research and planning, intervention, and assessment. Two school psychologists serve part-time on the District Assessment Team (DAT) to conduct the evaluations for the Committee on Special Education (CSE), with the other school psychologists spending some of their time on evaluations, but primarily devoting their time to counseling and the other core services described above.
Behavior Intervention Assistant
The Behavior Intervention Assistant provides crisis intervention support for designated students, as well as preventive behavioral interventions for others to support staff in keeping students in their programs in their home school or in the district. A primary focus is for dealing with students in the Management Attention Program (MAPS), our most intensive therapeutic and behavioral management program in the District.
Social Workers provide specialized services within the general education setting to support acquisition of interpersonal skills that enhance the ability to work with others in small and large group settings, reduce disciplinary issues, assist in the creation, implementation and monitoring of functional behavior assessments and behavior intervention plans (FBA/BIP), and promote an environment that is safe and conducive to learning.
In addition to facilitating classroom and small group sessions (i.e. bullying, divorce, loss), the Social Work staff has implemented the "WhyTry" program to support student needs at the High school level. The WhyTry Program emphasizes a character education program consists of ten visual analogies (pictures) that relate to specific problems and special challenges that at risk youth face in their every day lives. Each picture includes various solutions and questions, to help the youth gain insight in dealing with their own challenges.
The goal of the WhyTry Program is to help youth answer the question, "Why try in life?"(when they are frustrated, confused, or angry with life's pressures and challenges.) The WhyTry Program teaches youth that "yes", it is worth trying hard in life. It offers real solutions and presents these solutions in a way that the youth can both understand and remember. The program teaches self esteem and stresses that although making good decisions can be difficult, doing so will help give the youth more opportunity, freedom and self-respect.
The WhyTry program teaches youth how to focus on solutions to their problems and convert challenges and anger into positive motivation.
Social Workers also provide support for families and act as liaisons to accommodate referrals to outside community service agencies.
All Speech/language therapists are NYS Certified as Teacher of Speech and Hearing Handicapped. Additionally, all 4 staff members are Certified Speech-language Pathologists. Examples of areas of therapeutic intervention include: remediation according to sound production errors or phonological issues, pragmatic skills, fluency and voice, language disorders for students experiencing difficulty understanding and using language to communicate in an academic and/or social setting including syntax, vocabulary, comprehension, categorization, and classification as well as the use of descriptive language, and articulation delays that impact intelligibility and/or development in the areas of phonemic awareness and phonics.
School-based occupational therapy is designed to enhance the student's ability to fully access and be successful in the learning environment. This might include working on handwriting or fine motor skills so the student can complete written assignments, helping the student organize himself or herself in the environment (accessing library, lunchroom, physical education, including work space in and around the desk), and working with the teacher to modify the classroom and/or adapt learning materials to facilitate successful participation.
School physical therapy focuses on a child's ability to move as independently as possible in the school environment. The school physical therapist evaluates the child's ability to move throughout the school and to participate in classroom activities. Physical therapy interventions are designed to enable the student to travel throughout the school environment; participate in classroom activities, maintain and change positions in the classroom, as well as manage stairs, restrooms, and the cafeteria.
Teacher of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired
Onteora's program provides services by a NYS certified Teacher of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Teacher to support acquisition of core academic content, classroom strategies for both student and teacher, and assistance with environmental and instructional accommodations necessary to support students with hearing impairments as there are no students at this time who are deaf in our district.
Teaching Assistants in compliance with NCLB and NYS education law and regulations, all Teaching Assistants employed by Onteora are certified as NYS Teaching Assistants. Teaching assistants provide direct instructional services to students under the general supervision of a licensed or certified teacher. The teaching assistant is provided general (as contrasted with direct or personal) supervision by the licensed or certified teacher(s) who are responsible for the students' instruction. Regular teachers provide direction and guidance to teaching assistants concerning the direct instructional services they are providing to students.