OSS Newsletter: May 2017
Published on May 3, 2017 15:46

OSS Newsletter header
  MAY 2017

Dear Cambridge Community,

I hope you enjoyed the April vacation and the warmer weather we have been experiencing. I viewed the calendar today and realized how quickly the school year is progressing. I am very pleased with the work that is occurring in our schools and classrooms. I would like to pause and thank all of the teachers and staff for the work they do everyday with students.

Read more from Dr. Victoria Greer >>

By: Jean Spera, Special Education Director
Hear the latest DESE/IDEA updates and news – from the Safety Net Program to free workshops to preparing for life after high school. Learn more >>

Service Animals
By: Christina Gavin, Inclusion Specialist
Service animals play an important role in the lives of many individuals with disabilities. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) defines a “service animal” as a dog trained to perform a specific task for a person with a disability. The ADA allows a student with a disability who uses a service animal to have the animal at school. Adults have the right to bring their service animal to work. Service animals help people participate in everyday life.

Guide dogs for the blind are the most widely known type of service dog. But service dogs perform many important jobs. These include: pulling wheelchairs, assisting with balance, picking up and carrying items, alerting for sounds, alerting for seizures, reminding handlers to take medication, and alerting handlers about life threatening allergies.

Did You Know?
–Service dogs can be any breed of dog.
–Service dogs are allowed anywhere their handler goes, including: the supermarket, the gym, stores, restaurants, hotels, work, school, airplanes, taxis and public transportation.
–Service dogs must be trained. They are different from emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs.
–Right now, the law recognizes two types of service animals: dogs and miniature horses.

Sources: https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet

betty and deci

Spotlight Interview:
Betty Smith-MacKenzie, Teacher at Morse School

By: Christina Gavin, Inclusion Specialist

How long have you had your service dog?
Deci is my third service dog. I have had service dogs for 30 years. I’ve had “Deci” (Decibel) for the past 7 years.

What is your service dog trained to do? At home, Deci tells me about the smoke detector, the alarm clock, the tea kettle, and the doorbell. On the street, Deci tells me when there are sirens, and warns me when a truck is backing up.  He also can also call to a familiar voice.  At school, Deci lets me know when there is a fire alarm and when the classroom phone is ringing.

What do people need to know about service dogs? The most important thing is: don’t pet them or touch them without asking. Also, don’t distract them from doing their jobs.  If the dog is in an excited environment, don’t interact with the dog at this time, because he might be stressed.

What breed is Deci? Havanese, from Cuba.

What is the best thing about Deci? Of all my service dogs, Deci is the most affectionate.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Month!
By: Kate Jacobs
May is teacher appreciation month so taking the opportunity to appreciate us is fitting, and it’s just what we need to do. Preparing, reflecting, changing, persevering, learning, and collaborating to support our students is what we do. We have the opportunity to be among the most passionate, hard-working, and innovative educators in the state and even our country. Hear more >>       

summer services

OSS Summer Services & Programs 2017

Types of Needs Filled by the Program

summer services

11-Month Program
Students who need a longer school year and have a high level of need for predictability, structure, and familiar people and places

Extended Year Services
Students who need comprehensive services (academic tutoring, physical therapy, occupational therapy) during the summer months to combat learning loss and loss of skills

Structured Academics Program
Students who exhibit both internalizing and externalizing behavior that has an adverse impact on their ability to be regulated at school and at home

Extended Year Academic Tutoring
Students with an IEP with demonstrated learning loss over long breaks and the summer, who require individual or small-group sessions but do not require a comprehensive, specialized program.

Learning Disabilities Program
Students who are currently placed in the self-contained Learning Disabilities classroom from grades 3-5 are eligible for this specialized program. Special educators deliver one hour of instruction in Reading, Writing and Mathematics for each student.

Summer Services are Based on Student Needs
Individual Education Programs (IEPs) define the services a student needs to make effective progress at school. While some students' IEPs may include services beyond what is offered directly by OSS, our summer programs and services are designed to respond to students' most common summer programming needs. OSS also offers specially-designed supplement learning experiences for students who do not require summer services but would still benefit from a specialized program.


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 >>

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. 

June 12, 2017 (1 hr)

By Paula Feynman
Looking for the right book that sparks your child’s mind and leads them to explore their own creative fire?

Try these lists recommended by the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education. You’ll find a list for Award Winning Books, Books about Science and Social Studies, Audio Books, and Books for Children, Adolescents and Young Adults.

Hoagies has lists for many topics including Science Non-Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, History, Mystery Puzzle Books, Young Adult Lit, Books for Girls, Books for Boys, and many more!

Spaghetti Book Club has a list of lists! See links to winners of the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Caldecott Medal, The Newbury Medal, the American Library Associations Best Books of the year, as well many State Awards for best books!

What we do all day - has book recommendations with specific lists for multicultural books and books with diverse characters. There are also recommendations for games and activities to do with your children that do not involve technology. 


Cambridge Public Schools
159 Thorndike Street
Cambridge, MA 02139


Dr. Victoria Greer
Assistant Superintendent

Jean Spera

Karyn Grace

Shelagh Kelly-Walker

Desiree Phillips

Nerlande Mintor
Fiscal and Operations Manager



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