Valley Stream District 30 held its annual Special Services Summer Program from July 6 through Aug. 14. The program was designed to meet the continuing needs of students with learning disabilities from Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue schools. Due to the pandemic, the six-week program was facilitated virtually for the first time in its history and was led by Director of Special Services Dr. Nicole Schimpf. The dedicated summer staff consisted of special education teachers Melissa Cappy, Gabriella Cunzo, Timothy Rau and Monet Springer, speech therapists Cassandra LaBarbara and Jennifer Reilly, along with occupational therapists and physical therapists.
Thirty-nine students participated in the half-day program, Monday through Friday. They were enrolled in one of four small classes of less than 12 students and although their interactions were virtual, each student had the opportunity to still engage in one-to-one lessons for individualized attention to be set on specific student needs. Teachers conducted live instruction through Google Meets and provided activities on Google Classroom. To maintain a structure that students were already familiar with, academic-based apps were utilized on their devices to further enhance reading, writing and math concepts and students participated in hands-on projects and virtual field trips every Friday.
“From a teachers perspective, it was challenging but rewarding to see the students grow over the summer with regards to Google Meets and practicing time management skills through virtual instruction,” said Mr. Rau.
In addition, teachers led individual or small class meetings throughout the summer to create a sense of community. The program also offered parent training for families for extra support at home.
“The summer staff this year were amazing with ‘thinking out of the box,’ delivering creative lessons, staying positive and adapting to the new challenges posed by the pandemic to create a wonderful experience for our special education students,” said Dr. Schimpf. “We also have to thank our special education parents who were true partners in helping to create routines and assistance while their child worked remotely.”