Page 1

2010 2011




This publication is dedicated to those who achieve their dreams and those who help others achieve their dreams through programs at the Center for Special Services

Teachers Travel Half a World to Hear About BOCES Deaf Program


n faraway Bhutan, a tiny, secluded country wedged between Tibet and India in the Eastern Himalayas, life from an outsider’s perspective appears humble. Like their ancestors, most Bhutanese eke out a living on small rural farms in villages scattered across mountain ranges and still get around on foot.

Modernization of the country took off in earnest in the 1960s when the Bhutanese government started building telecommunications networks, roads and schools for the first time. The Internet and television were just introduced in 1999. In contrast to this rustic lifestyle, Bhutan showcases a rich cultural heritage in a landscape pleasingly dotted with centuries-old bridges, fortresses and Buddhist

Deaf and Hard of Hearing teacher Patricia Compton offers the teachers an educational resource to take back to their classrooms in Bhutan.

monasteries, where modern-day monks cloaked in traditional maroon robes still chant prayers. Unspoiled, the country is a visual feast of snowy mountain peaks, deep valleys and dense green foliage. So stirring is this

A Message from the Director


est wishes to you as we enter this new decade. Hard to believe that we have reached the year 2010, but the technology around us is a constant reminder that we are indeed living in a new age.

In reality, it’s our students who keep us moving forward, and it’s the job of our talented staff and administrators to create new opportunities that help students learn and grow. You’ll see what I mean as you enjoy this winter edition of “American Dreamer.” From an enrichment fair, where students celebrated literacy through their own literacy-themed projects, to an internship for a high school senior who will soon transition to the adult world, there is no end to the opportunities we can provide.

See Bhutan on page 2 navigate the complicated application process for services for their special needs children. And our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program was honored with a visit from two special education teachers from Bhutan who came to learn about the program and meet with teachers and students. We were also proud of a Blind Brook High senior in the Deaf program, Jacqueline Mamorsky, who starred as Helen Keller in a school production of “The Miracle Worker.” The holiday season was a joyous one, celebrated at Rye Lake Campus with a visit from Santa. We also opened a school store where students were able to redeem extra credit points earned in class for holiday gifts. To me, though, nothing shines brighter during the holidays than the smiling faces of students who achieve academic success. We were thrilled to cheer on the Rye Lake high school students who made the Honor Roll for the first quarter. That’s what it’s all about!

We take care of parents and their needs, too. The SWBOCES Mary Ellen Betzler social workers recently hosted a forum aimed at helping families Director, Center for Special Services


Bhutan from page 1 miniature paradise, that Westerners have reverently called Bhutan the “last Shangri-La.”

A New World

It is from this remote mountain kingdom, where the official government policy is based on the philosophy of Gross National Happiness – that “happiness is more important than wealth” – that two teachers traveled to New York in the fall to learn how to instruct the deaf and learning-disabled students in their classrooms back home. The teachers, Chimi Lhamo and Chimi Zangmo, visited the Blind Brook schools in Rye Brook, where they met with Southern Westchester BOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program instructors.

Left to right: Chimi Zangmo, Kim McCormack and Chimi Lhamo traveled from Bhutan to learn about the SWBOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing program.

The women were escorted by Kim McCormack, an education advisor with the Bhutan Foundation, a U.S. non-profit organization whose mission is to forge greater understanding between the United States and Bhutan. The Bhutanese government asked Ms. McCormack to help create a special education program in the country. While in New York, Ms. Lhamo and Ms. Zangmo have been taking graduate courses in special education at the College of New Rochelle, living on campus with other students until they return to Bhutan in May. Ms. Lhamo has worked with children who have learning disabilities, autism, Down’s Syndrome and cerebral palsy for seven of her 23 years as a teacher; Ms. Zangmo has worked with deaf students for three of the seven years she has taught. Because of their dedication to the teaching field, the women were selected by the Bhutanese government to travel to the United States for study and observation of special education programs. Their travel and study is funded through the Bhutan Foundation by the Laager family of Westchester County (Ms. McCormack’s godmother’s family), which has been connected with Bhutan since the 1940s.

Road Warriors

The grueling 40-hour journey the women made from Bhutan to New York via Bangkok and Delhi, India, is somehow reflective of the long and arduous trek their students must make to get to school. The 42 deaf and hard of hearing students enrolled in the 5-year-old deaf program at Drukgyel Lower Secondary School in the village of Paro, where Ms. Zangmo teaches, board there from September to June. To get to the school, the students and their families walk for

an hour from their rural homes to get to a main road (most Bhutanese families live an hour’s walk to a main road), where they hitch a ride to the nearest village and either find another ride or take a bus to Paro. The students go home twice a year in December and July, when they repeat the roundtrip journey. Local students walk in groups for up to two hours over mountain tracks, across rivers, and through valleys and forests to get to school. They do the walk in reverse at the end of the school day. Where Ms. Lhamo teaches 25 special needs students at the Changangkha Lower Secondary School in capital city Thimphu, students have it easier. Most live in town and either walk up to 30 minutes, get a ride with a parent, or take the town bus to school.

Education in Bhutan

Bhutan has 550 schools and educational institutions that were constructed over the last 40 years with government resources. Parents in rural communities built 150 of those schools with their own labor using government-provided construction materials. The building program is part of the government’s plan to make education available to every school age child by 2013. Still, classrooms and teachers are in short supply (a typical city classroom has a ratio of one teacher to up to 60 students), and Ms. Lhamo and Ms. Zangmo, who have no formal special education training, say they are lacking in even basic instructional resources. It is too expensive to ship books and supplies to a country as remote as Bhutan (overnight shipping takes

See Bhutan on page 4


Internship Prepares BOCES Student for the Work World Work Partnerships Offer Business Advantages

The Community-based Work Partnership has two different program models: paid and unpaid work experience. Because of the current economy, it is often difficult to find paid opportunities for students, says Transition Specialist Diane Greble. However, students can still learn skills, contribute to the community at large, integrate into the community, be out of their special education environment, and become part of a business team in the community in an unpaid model. Both types of work experiences offer advantages to businesses and students:


• The business gains access to a proven, reliable, yet underutilized segment of the workforce: individuals with disabilities. • A member of the BOCES transition team assists as needed with training and orientation of students into the work environment and provides job development and coaching. • An employer will have the opportunity to hire an individual trained at their work site if a paid position arises.


• The community becomes an extension of the classroom, offering a real work experience in a real work environment. • A work experience helps students to integrate into the community, explore career goals, learn to self-advocate, increase personal development skills, and gradually transition into adult life after high school in an individualized, accessible and integrated way.


sk any employer what they look for in the ideal employee, and you’ll probably hear words like responsible, smart, dependable, can-do attitude, team player, self-motivated, and the big one – people person. How lucky then for Southern Westchester BOCES student Agique Anderson that he fits the description perfectly.

Agique, a student at the SWBOCES Center for Career Services in Valhalla, began interning in early November at the SWBOCES Center for Instructional Services in Elmsford as an office assistant. He works Thursday afternoons when his academic classes end. Agique arrives at the office by bus, where he reports to Maria McGinty, coordinator of the Homeless Student program, which works with districts in Westchester County to ensure the continuity of education for homeless children in schools. When Agique walks through the glass door on Thursdays, the staff is all smiles. “He’s such a sweet kid, so friendly

Maria McGinty and BOCES student Agique Anderson. and helpful,” said receptionist Marsha Hurley. Ms. McGinty agrees. “He’s very easy to like,” she said. “He fits in great here.”

In Transition

Agique is in an unpaid work experience (or internship), arranged by the SWBOCES Office of Transition, which coordinates programs and services that prepare students with disabilities for adult life. Transition Specialist Diane Greble, who placed Agique, explained that the Transition team creates and supports “Community-based Work Partnerships” for students with learning and other disabilities. The work experience enables students to develop the competencies and behavior needed to secure and maintain long-term employment. “I work closely with students to discover their strengths and explore the options for success,” said Ms. Greble. “Through a Strength Based Assessment (SBA), a tool developed to help us with Person Centered Planning, I identify an individual’s capacities, interests and dreams, and develop strategies for successful transition from high school to adulthood.”

Discovering Goals

An SBA is a collaboration of the student, teachers, transition specialist, and parents to complete a detailed assessment of the student’s interests, abilities, goals, past accomplishments and current job skills. Agique’s work experience, for example, fits in well with his long-term goal of becoming an office manager after he gradu-

See Intern on page 8


Bhutan from page 2

Ms. Zangmo. “We are all just regular teachers doing our best.”

six days), and computers and Internet connection are limited, making it difficult to print online materials.

Taking Knowledge Home

Bhutan has a national policy regarding mainstream education as part of the country’s tenth 5-year plan, but there is no official special education policy, although one is slowly being developed with Ms. McCormack’s help. “In our country, kids don’t have special services or service providers like they do here, and the schools are not equipped to deal with the multiply-disabled,” said Ms. Lhamo.

Challenges for Teachers and Students

On a typical school day, both teachers adapt regular curriculum studies to the needs of their special education students. In Ms. Zangmo’s case, she will act out or draw difficult concepts that can’t be explained in Bhutanese Sign Language, which currently has only about 4,000 words. “The fact that they have developed their own sign language with no outside help or training and that they’ve been able to do so much with language development, I find remarkable,” Ms. McCormack said. There are no school psychologists, and the country has only one psychiatrist and one audiologist. A sole speech pathologist works in hospitals and occasionally visits the schools. Hearing tests and screenings are fairly new procedures in Bhutan and the country does not have the medical technology, training or the funding to provide hard of hearing students with cochlear implants. The electronic hearing aids that are available to the students are so old that they’re now obsolete. “The kids won’t wear them because they get headaches from them,” said Ms. Zangmo. Both schools, and those in the most remote parts of the country, are in need of phonetic readers, picture and text books, and paper and art resources—s­imple things taken for granted in U.S. schools, but which amaze Ms. Zangmo and Ms. Lhamo, both in their content and abundance. “We need so many things, but what we need most of all is to have teachers trained in teaching special needs students,” said

Visit us on the Web! The Southern Westchester BOCES Web site is: Visit for important updates, links to other education sites, and workshop and training information.

In addition to their studies here, both teachers are interning in special education classrooms at a school in Mamaroneck. Ms. Lhamo works with first graders and Ms. Zangmo with a pre-K class. Ms. Zangmo began an internship in January with the deaf and hard of hearing class two days a week at Ridge Street Elementary School in Rye Brook, where she will work closely with students and teachers in the program before returning home. The graduate classes and internships have successfully introduced the teachers to how to work with special needs students, but have only scratched the surface. Time, experience, further study and more resources, they say, are needed to enable them to give their students the kind of classroom experience they envision. “At least I can apply what I’m learning here,” said Ms. Lhamo. “I may not be able to apply all of the techniques, but I will use what I can.” “What we’re learning here is all new to us,” added Ms. Zangmo. “We cannot be experts, but we can at least share our knowledge back home.”

Related Links

For more information about Bhutan, visit:, or contact Kim McCormack at kim.mccormack@ To learn about the Southern Westchester BOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, visit: www.

The mission of Southern Westchester BOCES is to collaborate with school districts and communities to meet their educational challenges by providing regional leadership and costeffective, high-quality services.


Tough Questions Answered for Parents of Special Needs Students


o better assist the parents of children with special needs, Southern Westchester BOCES recently hosted a forum aimed at helping families navigate the complicated application process for services offered through the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

A panel of experts on OMRDD services and service systems addressed the questions and concerns of the 16 parents who attended the forum, held at Rye Lake Campus. The program was organized by SWBOCES Project AIIM Supervisor Phyllis Rizzi and the SWBOCES social workers, who help coordinate the educational and social services needs of developmentally disabled students. Lesli Catan, the Medicaid service coordinator with the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health, opened the session with an overview of OMRDD, which funds a wide range of services for special needs individuals, including housing and residential options for adults; day/ employment programs; family support services such as respite care, which provides relief for families who care for loved ones at home; senior services for elder citizens with developmental disabilities; and clinic and transportation services.

“Cumbersome” Eligibility Process

The OMRDD, through its local Developmental Disabilities Services Offices, makes service eligibility determinations after reviewing an individual’s application, current cognitive assessment, psychosocial evaluation, IQ scores, physical exam records and the reports of medical specialists. While that sounds straightforward enough, every case is unique. The eligibility determination process requires three different tier reviews and multiple steps. If a determination for eligibility in the first or second tier is unsatisfied, the applicant will have another opportunity to prove eligibility in a third tier review. Even then, a determination of developmental disability does not mean that an individual is eligible for all OMRDD services. Ms. Catan said that the system is “cumbersome and confusing,” even for those who work within it.

ing and what’s real today may be different tomorrow.”

Government Needs to Know

Regardless, every family should apply for OMRDD eligibility, said panelist Claudia Mace Spaziante, a Family Support Services social worker with Hudson Valley Developmental Disabilities Services. “Whether you think you’re eligible or not, apply so that the government can see that there’s a population that needs to be served.” Ms. Catan added that if the state is aware, for example, that 100 special needs students will graduate in 2015 as opposed to 50, “it makes a difference in how the government plans and budgets for the future.” Matthew Faulkner, a community work assistant with the Department of Community Mental Health, acts as a liaison among the school districts, the OMRDD, agencies that provide adult day programs, and families. He assists with the registration and eligibility process and can make referrals to adult day habilitation programs when a student is transitioning out of the school system.

Everyone Has a Right to Apply

His advice to parents: Register your child early. “You can register [with the OMRDD] at any time and receive provisional eligibility from birth to age 7. More information will need to be provided at age 8,” he said. “I always tell parents that everyone has a right to apply.” Mr. Faulkner also works with school districts to educate school personnel about the eligibility process. After the application is complete, the child’s parents and school receive a letter informing them of the child’s eligibility status and advising them on next steps. “We’re working together for the benefit of the student,” said Mr. Faulkner. For more about the OMRDD, visit:

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the economy has forced major budget cuts for some OMRDD programs. “Things are in the middle of tremendous change,” Ms. Catan said. “What’s happen-

From left, OMRDD panelists Matthew Faulkner, Lesli Catan and Claudia Mace Spaziante.


BOCES Students Cel W hen most of us think of literacy, we almost always immediately think of books and the enjoyment we get from reading them. But for Southern Westchester BOCES students at Irvington Middle School, literacy lives in a much wider universe. The Irvington sixth, seventh and eighth graders, all students in the SWBOCES Gifted Special Education and Therapeutic Support-Fragile programs, held their first enrichment fair in December, celebrating literacy through projects the students had been working on since October.

rd/ nation skateboa bi m co a r fo e p a prototy ac Schwartz built Z d an y h rp u M Sean oard. snowboard/surfb

The programs’ supervisor John Cooper greeted parents who had taken the morning off from work to visit the fair, which showcased not only the students’ flair for creativity, but their knowledge of a wide spectrum of subject matter and, for three boys, their business acumen.

Writers and Poets

Poet Kelly Mellon, a seventh-grader, presented her work in a PowerPoint presentation she showed on a screen. She also displayed a copy of “Kids X-Press” magazine, in which her poem “Love” had been published. “When I think of ideas, I just write them down,” she said of her writing method. Fellow poet Abby Kessin, 13, offered visitors an illustrated presentation titled “The Wonderful World of Poems.” Abby’s poems were about the simple things in life people treasure but sometimes take for granted. Her titles included “Fat Cat,” “Malls,” “Music in the Air,” “The Wind” and “True Love.”

Student Kelly Mellon’s poem “Love” was published in “Kids XPress” magazine.

Matthew Busel’s fascination with Corvettes led him to create a project around the car’s design evolution.

“I like to read and I’m good at writing poetry,” Abby said, “but I don’t write that often.” One student who does write often is eighth-grader Alyssa Baron, who penned an entire fantasy/ adventure story and accompanying diary for the


lebrate Literacy

fascinated with them ever since. Players of the “Too Many Ostriches” game roll the dice and lead character, a 14-year-old girl named Amira. take a turn picking up a card that asks a quesThe story is the first in a series Alyssa is calling tion about the bird. “I like ostriches,” he said simply, sharing an ostrich secret: the bird can’t “Chance.” The first story, which follows the adventures of an apprentice sorceress, is “about fly, but it can run up to 43 miles an hour. a girl who doesn’t know what she’s capable of. She meets a lot of people who trick her, but she Seventh-grader Matthew Busel is fascinated by Corvettes. For his project, he created a visual ends up saving a kingdom. I really like stories time line, complete with illustrations, of the about girls who have problems,” she said. evolution of the design of the Sting Ray and Boys’ Toys In their “corner office” next to Alyssa were sev- the Mako Shark models. He especially likes the enth-graders Sean Murphy and Zac Schwartz. shape of the Corvette and has seen one that a neighbor drives past his house, but he’s still too They had teamed up with their eighth-grade shy to ask for a ride. partner Steve Ramos to create the ultimate in boarding sports: a combination skateboard/ snowboard/surfboard with parts that can be added or taken away to make up the board for the sport you’re into that day. “It comes with axles and one or two fins,” the boys pointed out, removing the axle and wheels on their cardboard demo model and replacing them with a fin.

Sean, the snowboarder, Zac, the surfer, and Steve, both a snowboard and skateboard enthusiast, discovered in their research that other people have had the same idea but so far no one has been able to figure out how to make the combo board work. When they grow up, they plan to invest money in the project and put engineers on the job, but for now, the boys are content with their cardboard prototype. Their research indicates that an actual board would sell for between $110 and $150 in skate shops and sports chains like Sports Authority and Modell’s. Teachers Maura Cornish and Nancy Fraher said the enrichment fair was developed because it seemed that project-based learning was the missing puzzle piece to literacy studies for both groups of students, who had the choice of working collaboratively or developing a project on their own. “The students spent two months preparing their projects. We advised them, but a lot of it was independent,” Ms. Cornish said. Eighth-grader Brian Levy chose to make a board game about his favorite subject: ostriches. He first encountered the flightless bird at the Bronx Zoo as a young child and has been

Norse Mythology Fan

And sixth-grader Jacob Haigh, whose bio on the last page of his homemade periodical, “The Mythology Magazine,” proudly reveals that he was born in London, is a big-time fan of Norse mythology. He has written poems about it in his magazine, loves reading Norse legends and, most of all, enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm for his favorite subject with anyone who stopped by his desk to meet him.

Writer Alyssa Baron authored a fantasy adventure story whose main character is a 14-year-old apprentice sorceress.

Above: “Fat Cat” was one of the many poems Abby Kessin wrote for her book “The Wonderful World of Poems.” Left: Jacob Haigh holds up his first issue of “The Mythology Magazine,” which covers his favorite topic: Norse and Scandinavian mythology.


Blind Brook Student Stars in a Tale of Courage


he story of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan has been played out in emotionally moving films and numerous stage productions. Their story is even more poignant (and authentic) when the lead role of the deaf, blind and mute Helen is played by a deaf actress, in this case Blind Brook High School senior Jacqueline Mamorsky, who recently brought Helen to life in a school production of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker.” “Like Helen, I am deaf, so we do have common ground,” Jackie said through her interpreter Rose Russo, who works for the Southern Westchester BOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program.

Deaf since birth, Jackie dexterously signs conversations. Her hands fly at lightning speed as she speaks through Ms. Russo. To a hearing person with little or no exposure to signing, being part Anne Sullivan (Blind Brook student Nora Fisher) and Helen, Jackie Mamorsky, meet of a three-way conversation takes some getting for the first time. used to. A hearing person can’t fully grasp how hand signs are translated into concepts to create Destiny at Work a larger conversation. Yet a signed exchange flows as rapidly as It was serendipitous, Jackie explained, that on her birthday spoken language, with an equally rich vocabulary. in June, her grandmother gifted her with a book about Helen Keller, neither of them knowing, of course, that she’d be cast Intern from page 3 as Helen in September. Then Jackie watched the film version ates from college with a degree in business administration. of “The Miracle Worker.” “I knew Helen could be wild, but I He is also interested in teaching, so working on educationdidn’t know how wild,” she said with a laugh. “She’s a tough related projects satisfies his interest in that field. character to fit into.” As projects arise, Ms. McGinty assigns specific tasks to Agique. Recently, he was busy three-hole punching and assembling booklets used by BOCES teachers in after-school teaching programs run in local shelters through the Homeless Student Program. His other tasks generally include copying and collating, shredding, typing, folding brochures, putting informational folders together, and pitching in on projects other departments need help with. Knowing that the work he does helps to support the education of children and youth in homeless situations “makes me feel empowered,” he said. “I’m happy to do it.” Agique particularly likes projects that allow him to multitask and that offer opportunities to work closely with staff members. “I really enjoy interacting with the staff, and with the work they’ve been giving me, I’m a learning a lot here,” he said.

To prepare for the role, Jackie had to consider what Helen’s life must have been like without even the benefit of sight to help navigate her silent world. The frustration Helen endured until age 7— the point where Anne Sullivan enters her life and teaches her to communicate, and the period which the school’s play covers— is likely unimaginable to anyone without the same disability.

Crucial Cues

Much of Helen’s rebellious anger was played out on stage in temper tantrums, which required a great deal of thrashing about to illustrate Helen’s intense frustration. Rolling up a sleeve, Jackie revealed some still-tender bruises. To portray Helen without being able to hear the dialogue or speak (there are no spoken lines in the play for the character of Helen), Jackie had to rely on the cast. “On stage, I had to be in character all of the time,” she said. “I had to look for the cast’s cues out of the corner of my eye while I was supposed to be angry and blind at the same time.”


Which is tough enough to do in front of a live audience, and even tougher when you have to depend on the other performers to remember to give you your cues: a spoon placed in a hand at the right moment signals that it’s time for Helen to throw a tantrum; a certain pat on the head or a touch on the shoulder means the character has to cry. A piece of candy handed to her means it’s time for Helen to exit the Keller house through the set’s front door.

Separated by Time

“Every minute there’s a cue that the audience isn’t even aware of,” said senior Blythe Duckett, who played Helen’s mother Kate. “If you forget a cue, everything just falls apart.”

When Jackie arrived as a fourth-grader at Ridge Street Elementary School in Rye Brook, where she enrolled in the SWBOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, she was fluent in ASL, but was shy. She started opening up in high school and “really came out of my shell” when she began to combine speaking with signing and took on roles in school plays starting in tenth grade. “Once in a while I feel kind of behind, out of the loop, in group conversations,” she said. “I can talk easily one-on-one, but in a crowd, it’s kind of a challenge.”

Dress Rehearsal

At a dress rehearsal two days before opening night, the cast practiced in costumes circa the late 1880s, rented from the Westchester Broadway Theatre. While waiting for instructions from director Christina Colangelo, conversations laced with laughter filled the auditorium. Students on the technical crew tinkered with the stage lights, making final adjustments. Another student was busy taking photos of the set and cast. Jackie sat chatting in sign language with Ms. Russo and enjoying a snack before curtain call. “This is a magnificent opportunity for all of the kids,” said SWBOCES interpreter Lynne Martirano, who attended rehearsals to practice her signing of the play for deaf and hard of hearing theater-goers. “It’s a team effort and these kids got to work with Jackie with acceptance in a really beautiful way. They embraced it. They didn’t say ‘oh, why are we doing a play for the deaf kid?’ They embraced it.”

In weaving the story of Jackie and Helen, art somewhat imitates life, although the women’s circumstances are vastly different. Helen grew up on a small farm in Alabama in the 1880s with no means of communication; Jackie was a student at the New York School for the Deaf starting at age 2, where she was taught American Sign Language. ASL is considered to be a foreign language and takes just as long to learn as any language.

Helen’s first form of communication didn’t emerge until her parents hired Anne Sullivan, who patiently taught Helen how to spell words with her hands using the manual alphabet. Helen quickly made the connection between words and objects. Later, she learned to speak, and to read French, German, Greek and Latin in Braille. Jackie was fitted with a cochlear implant, a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a profoundly deaf person. She continued her enrollment in the SWBOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Blind Brook High, which provides the support deaf and hard of hearing students need to learn in a mainstream educational format. Jackie has had the benefit of the program’s many communication services, including note takers, audiologists, social workers, a psychologist and the skill and friendship of Ms. Russo. “This program was the perfect fit for me,” Jackie said. “It’s given me a chance to be with hearing and deaf peers and the opportunity to see what I’m able to do in a mainstream school setting.”

SWBOCES interpreter Lynne Martirano practices signing a scene from “The Miracle Worker.”

And while Helen was beset with limitations given her disabilities and status as a woman in the time in which she lived, Jackie has unlimited opportunities in 2010, thanks in large part

See Helen on page 12


American Dreamer Achievement Award Nominations Learning to create a barrier-free environment helps students with disabilities fulfill their dreams. An important goal of the Center for Special Services is to empower students to do this. Each year, we ask for nominations of individuals who have achieved or helped others to achieve their dreams. If you would like to nominate someone for the 2010 American Dreamer Achievement Award, you may do so using this form. BOCES employees cannot be nominated. Please complete the form, describing why you feel the person should receive this award. Return it to: Lucille Yalcin, 1606 Old Orchard Street, White Plains, NY 10604, as soon as possible. No more than two nominations per person, please. Be sure to provide accurate spelling of the person’s name, and their address and phone number. The Deadline to submit nominations is Wednesday, April 14, 2010. Please use this form and type or print as clearly as possible. Nominations received after April 14 will not be considered. No exceptions will be made. Nominee’s Name: Address: Phone number: About the nominee:

Nominated by: Your Phone number:

(Please print)


Campus Notes

Honor roll awardees, from left: Kevin Herbin, Ibrahim Green (High Honors), Marquis Little and Ivan Ochoa (High Honors). Rye Lake student Kathryn Benson had a jolly time with old St. Nick.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Santa and his merry elves paid a special visit to the Rye Lake Campus, where students had a chance to hop up on his knee and receive a present. Pictured with Santa is Kathryn Benson, all decked out in red for the holidays.

Eleven Rye Lake Students Make the Honor Roll A special ceremony was held at Southern Westchester BOCES Rye Lake Campus on Dec. 11 to acknowledge the high school students who made the Honor Roll for the first quarter. Rye Lake Campus Supervisor Jeanne Graham called the awardees up one at a time to receive a certificate commemorating their achievement. “These are students who attend all classes, are not disruptive and are a model for their peers,” Ms. Graham said.

To be eligible for the Honor Roll, students must have achieved an academic GPA of 75-85 and demonstrated good citizenship. Recipients included Franchesca Maria; Bianca King; Bayshawn Johnson; Jonathan Martin; Jerome Callands; and Kevin Herbin.

Rye Lake students could redeem their points for a bounty of holiday gifts.

Gift Shop Helps Students Overcome Economy

The economy has been so tough, that high school students at Rye Lake were having difficulty even finding after-school seasonal jobs to help earn money to pay for holiday gifts. But campus supervisor Jeanne Graham and staff came up with a unique plan to bridge the gap: open a school store. Students had to earn extra points in class for good grades and citizenship that they could redeem to “buy” gifts at the store – anything from donated clothing and games to electronic goods and two highly prized iPods, donated by Ms. Graham. Rye Lake staff and staff from other SWBOCES locations contributed items to the store, which opened the week before Christmas. The students were “pumped,” Ms. Graham said, and the program was so successful that the store will remain open for the rest of the school year.

High Honor Roll recipients achieved a GPA of 85 and above and displayed excellence in citizenship. The awardees were: Ivan Ochoa, Ibrahim Greene and Emily Lanari. Student Chris Nunez received the coveted Principal’s Award for achieving outstanding scholarship and citizenship. The ceremony ended with hugs, handshakes and celebratory cupcakes.

Teacher of Visually Impaired Joins Center Rosemary Williams, a teacher of the visually impaired, has joined the Center for Special Services as a consultant and service provider. Ms. Williams assists in direct academic instruction, providing consultation to district staff and assistance in educating students with visual impairments within their home district. Well-known in her field, Ms. Williams is an experienced special education teacher, certified to provide mobility training to students with visual impairments or blindness. Currently employed at Blythedale Children’s Hospital, Ms. Williams has been nominated for the Board of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), a statewide agency serving students and adults with blindness and visual impairments.


Helen from page 9 to technology, which has opened the world to deaf people. In addition to “The Miracle Worker,” Jackie has performed in school productions of “Stage Door” and “The Crucible” and translated the extended “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” ballet in “The King & I” into ASL for deaf and hard of hearing audience members. With a hearing friend at school, Rachel Lumish, Jackie founded Blind Brook High’s ASL Club, where hearing students can learn and practice sign language Helen with her rag doll, a present from Anne Sullivan. to more easily forge friendships with deaf students. On the horizon is college, where Jackie says she will study law.

Helen the Hero?

While there are endless reasons to admire Helen Keller, who graduated from Radcliffe College, wrote books, gave speeches, and was an activist, fundraiser and the inspiration for works of art, the film and play, and millions of people with disabilities, Jackie mysteriously shakes her head when asked if Helen is a hero. “I don’t think she’s a hero, no. But I do think she’s a great role model because she showed the world that people with disabilities are capable and that they can be smart, funny, brilliant and face challenges and overcome obstacles. People with disabilities don’t have to be treated differently.”

Robert Monson, Ph.D., District Superintendent Sandra A. Simpson., Deputy District Superintendent G. Raymond Healey, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent for Special Education Nancy A. Jorgensen, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources Stephen J. Tibbetts, Assistant Superintendent, Business & Administrative Services Mary Ellen Betzler, Director, Center for Special Services Board of Education Georgia Riedel, President Joseph Wooley, Vice President John DeSantis Nancy Fisher Richard Glickstein Beverly A. Levine James Miller Newsletter Editor: Suzanne Davis The Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services, its officers and employees, shall not discriminate against any student, employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, religion, marital status, gender, age, handicapping condition or sexual orientation. This policy of nondiscrimination includes access by students to educational programs, counseling services for students, course offerings and student activities, recruitment, appointment and promotion of employees, and employment pay and benefits, and it is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended and then promulgated thereunder, not to discriminate in such a manner. SWBOCES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER 17 Berkley Drive, Rye Brook, NY 10573, 914-937-3820 Title IX Coordinator, Michael R. Gargiulo, Director of Human Resources Section 504 Coordinator, Thomas DiBuono, Director Of Facilities And Operations

Jackie Mamorsky as Helen Keller ( far left) with the Keller family.

American Dreamer Winter 2010  
American Dreamer Winter 2010  

American Dreamer, the Southern Westchester BOCES newsletter for special education students and staff.