Schools welcome town to special needs meet-and-greet

Photo Courtesy of Cynthia Cumming At a meet-and-greet at Liberty Middle School on Oct. 19 are, from left, Michelle Pipes of Mt. Pleasant; WOSEPAC Vice Chairwoman Ellen Gilio of Roosevelt; WOSEPAC Chairwoman Tanya Atterberry of Redwood; Carol Murphy of Liberty; and Jason Davidson of Mt. Pleasant.
Photo Courtesy of Cynthia Cumming
At a meet-and-greet at Liberty Middle School on Oct. 19 are, from left, Michelle Pipes of Mt. Pleasant; WOSEPAC Vice Chairwoman Ellen Gilio of Roosevelt; WOSEPAC Chairwoman Tanya Atterberry of Redwood; Carol Murphy of Liberty; and Jason Davidson of Mt. Pleasant.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Special Education Parent Advisory Council sponsored a standing-room-only meet-and-greet at Liberty Middle School on Oct. 19 to introduce themselves and provide information about the special education program in the West Orange School District.

WOSEPAC Chairperson Tanya Atterberry explained the purpose of the council as “an organization of parents working collaboratively with the district to enhance education and promote acceptance and inclusion and acceptance of classified students with special needs into school and extracurricular activities.”

The council is comprised of parent voting members, one from each district school, out-of-placement schools and a community parent. In addition, non-voting members include three Child Study Team members, Special Education teachers and paraprofessionals, a general education teacher, and principals Marie DeMaio, Joanne Pollara and Michele Thompson. Superintendent Jeff Rutzky, special services Director Connie Salimbeno, and special education supervisors Dawn Ribeiro and Kristen Gogerty complete the non-voting membership.

At the event, Rutzky addressed the crowd, noting that he is the parent of a special-needs child. “Every child is different and we want to meet each student at their level of need,” he said. “We have a phenomenal special education program and we want to see each child go to a higher level and challenge them — without frustrating them.”

Rutzky advised parents that the school district is focusing their efforts on inclusion. Inclusion is going to become an important part of our district,” he explained. “Special and general education teachers are receiving very specific training. We want to see them co-teach and combine general and special education to become one.”

The WOSEPAC will hold a presentation on inclusion on Monday, Jan. 15, beginning at 7 p.m. at West Orange High School. All are welcome to attend.

Parent liaisons are still needed for Hazel, Gregory, St. Cloud, Washington and Edison. For more information and to receive a contact list, contact Tanya Atterberry at wosepacredwood@gmail.com or call 646-591-6442.

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