OSS Newsletter: February 2017
Published on Feb 7, 2017 15:33

OSS Newsletter header

Dear Cambridge Community,

February is a short month but it is a very busy month for the Office of Student Services. It is also transition month and we are placing an extra emphasis on celebrating and educating everyone about post school transition for students with disabilities. Read more from Dr. Victoria Greer >>

DESE/IDEA Updates (Part I)
By: Jean Spera, Special Education Director
Hear the latest DESE/IDEA updates. Learn more >>

Inclusive Education
By: Kate Jacobs, Inclusive Instruction Specialist
Students with learning differences are often compared to their peers. We measure their success based off this comparison which is not fair. It intensifies the gap which makes it easy for us to say that the student does not belong with their peers, but instead we need to look at  individual student growth, and measure their progress based off their own data. If we do this we are looking at student growth via a different lens. A lens that supports inclusive education to where all students receive an educational experience that is rigorous, engaging, and motivating. Hear more >>

Vote for the Cambridge Calculators!
By: Paula Feynman, Academic Challenge and Enrichment Manager
The Putnam Ave Upper School has a team of 4 students competing in the MATHCounts Video Challenge. The Math Video Challenge is a national program that challenges middle school students to develop their math, communication, and technology skills in a collaborative video project. Our team, whose name is “The Cambridge Calculators”, has created an extremely creative animated explanation of a algebra problem called “ZAUCTIONING”, in which they auction a make believe currency called zigs, zags, and zogs. Can we trust the calculations of the “Zauctioneer”? Stay tuned to find out!!

From February 22 through mid-March, the general public votes on the videos and the 100 videos with the most votes advance to the judging rounds. Friends, family, and school community members can vote for their own video as often as once a day during general public voting. Here’s how to vote:
–Log onto the website at http://videochallenge.mathcounts.org/
–Watch the video of the Cambridge Calculators
The title of the video is “Zauctioning” (you may need to search for it)
–Vote for “Zauctioning”
–Repeat steps 1-4 every day until voting ends!

If you have a current 5th, 6th, or 7th grader who might like to engage in this kind of activity next year, contact Paula Feynman, Academic Challenge and Enrichment Manager at [email protected].

To give you an idea of the project, click on the link below to watch last year’s winner: http://bit.ly/2k8Rtuf

Building Workplace Readiness
The ability to get and keep a job is a crucial transition skill for students' post high school success. Research supports this statement regarding all students, with or without disabilities, no matter their post-secondary educational goals. Several different employment readiness programs are available to CRLS students. Just A Start, a non-profit organization located in Inman Square runs two of them: Teen Works and Career Connections. Career Connections is held every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at CRLS from 2:30 - 4:30. Students can connect with these programs at the Youth Employment Center at CRLS (second floor).

Career Connection
Career Connection is a year-round program designed to improve school performance, attendance, and retention, and prepare youth ages 14 to 21 for successful futures through attainment of a high school diploma and placement in post-secondary education and/or employment. Career Connection provides youth, identified by the Cambridge School system as being at-risk, with academic support, pre-employment/work maturity skills building, leadership development, and summer activities that combine work with academic remediation and skills development. Career Connection also provides strong support and advocacy through counseling, mentoring, placement, and follow-up services to support retention in post-graduation placement. Graduates often return to the program in the summer as Junior Staff and act as peer models to current participants.

TeenWork provides job readiness training, job placement with employer partners, and supportive counseling to Cambridge public high school students and recent graduates, allowing them to gain work experience and develop their resumes. Just A Start staff work with youth to secure jobs during the summer and after school. To participate in TeenWork, students must maintain a C+ or higher GPA and have an 85% or higher daily school attendance rate.

 **Information taken from the program brochures.

Why is Developing Self-Determination Skills so Important for My Child with a Disability?
By: Sarah Werner, Transition Coordinator
Self-determination is defined as "a combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior. In essence, students who are self-determined know themselves, know how to interact effectively with others, and know how to purposefully set goals and attain them. Each student can be self-determined in his or her own way. All students can learn to act with intentionality and the expectation and confidence that their actions and words can make good things happen for themselves and others. Fully developed self-determination skills set the stage for the actualization of each student’s personal potential. Students who are self-determined have a voice in their daily lives and in their own futures planning. Research demonstrates that higher levels of student self-determination correlate with higher levels of student engagement, which in turn correlates with higher graduation rates and more positive adult outcomes. Students who feel empowered to express their preferences, who feel their voice is heard, and who understand themselves to be causal agents in their own lives, are students who are forward-looking and engaged.

Sometimes students with disabilities are the beneficiaries of other people’s best intentions: they are “done to” and “done for” rather than “do-ers,” not given the opportunity to make choices or to say “no,” not afforded the opportunity to be leaders in their own lives. Meals arrive, clothing appears, cars and school buses transport them, lessons and homework and grades happen, as regularly as the weather and just as removed from their control. Consider how much your child is empowered to self advocate at home and at school. Work with your school team to increase developmental activities that promote self-determination.

Excerpt from Massachusetts DESE Technical Assistance Advisory SPED 2016-2: Promoting Student Self-Determination to Improve Student Outcomes.

The Importance of Parental Involvement to Promote Healthy Classroom Community!
Numerous studies have found that parental involvement is a great predictor for student academic achievement (Fehrmann, P G. et al. 2015). Parents have high academic expectations for their children; therefore, it is important that educators and school administration work with parents to promote student’s academic success. Read more >>

black history month graphic


Road to the Future Transition Fair 2017
February 16 | 5:30PM
See details >>

C-PAC Coffee & Conversation
February 17
Location: 225 Windsor St, Cambridge

Sensory Friendly Movie
February 18
Title: The Lego Batman
Time: 9AM
Location: Apple Cinemas, 168 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge

Parent Support Groups

Time (Daytime Group):
12-1:30PM *1st and 3rd Friday of the Month*
Location: 1 Broadway St, Cambridge 
Time (Evening Group): 6:30-8PM *2nd and 4th Friday of the Month*
Location: 85 Oxford St., Cambridge
More information and registration >>

Vision of Community 2017
March 4 | Seaport World Trade Center, Boston
More information >>

The dates for Extended School Year (ESY) for the summer of 2017 are as follow: ESY Dates for 11 Month ASD and Special Start Classrooms June 28–July 31, 2017 

The dates for the Comprehensive Program and Services for the summer of 2017 are as follow: June 28–August 3, 2017

Please be aware that there will be no services on July 3 and July 4, 2017 in recognition of the July 4th holiday. 

March 20, 2017 (1 hr)
June 12, 2017 (1 hr) Collaborative Sessions:
February, 13, 2017 (2 hrs)
May 1, 2017 (2 hrs)

This year, the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Special Education Convention and Expo is being held in Boston! This conference is geared to guide applicants towards gaining the necessary tools and information in order to improve the education and services to students with disabilities. Through this incredible workshop experience, you will get the opportunity to learn different aspects of Special Education through the various interactive and non-interactive workshops over the course of four (4) days. The CEC Conference offers the choice of full day and half day, where you can earn Professional Development Hours (6 PHDs for full days and 4 PHDs for the half days). More info & registration >>  

–Wilma Rudolph- Polio
–Whoopi Goldberg- ADHD
–Blind Tom Williams- Blind
–David Patterson- Blind/Visually Impaired
–Stevie Wonder- Blind/ADHD
–Solange Knowles- ADHD
–Harriet Tubman- Epilepsy
–Barbara Charlene Jordan- Multiple Sclerosis
–James Earl Jones- Speech Deficit
–Simone Biles- ADHD
–John Curtis Pride


Cambridge Public Schools
159 Thorndike Street
Cambridge, MA 02139


Dr. Victoria Greer
Assistant Superintendent

Jean Spera

Karyn Grace

Shelagh Kelly-Walker

Desiree Phillips



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