Special EDition Newsletter Spring 2019

Franklin Walker, JCPS Chief School Administrator

Created by: Dr. Gerry Crisonino, Special Education Director Candace Cocarro, Supervisor & Jaime Merced, Lead Teacher


Feature Photo: ⬆ Special Olympics Unified Sports, Track and Field

Special EDition is a publication highlighting the latest student centered events and activities to keep families and educators informed throughout the Jersey City Public Schools.


What a RECYCLED Sight!

By: Cara Van Note

Ms. Cesar and Ms. Rentas’ class at PS#5 have been creating masterpieces using recycled goods. With the driving question, “What does recycling mean around the world?” in mind, the students set out for some astonishing results. Through hard work, persistence, and hours of research, the class was able to determine exactly what recycling means to each other, and to different parts of the world. When asked what recycling meant to him, an 8th grade student in class stated, “recycling means to keep the world clean.” His peer added, “By recycling we can save our world. We can preserve the rainforest.”

Ms. Cesar and Ms. Rentas' Class Showcases Their Joint Efforts in Creating Recycled Items

Through their learning of recycling and determining the important effects it has on our environment, students also learned how they can raise awareness. As the students discussed several valid points and concerns, they added, “We can organize a day of recycling in our neighborhood. We can set up a website or a blog that people can refer to for more information. As a community, we can set up bins around our city to make recycling convenient for everyone.”

These amazing students aren’t creating only pretty items; they are creating sustainable items as well. The 7th and 8th grade class is currently working on creating items that will help people in need. When asked about the importance of sustainable items, a student added “recycling isn’t only sustainable when it is profitable, and that is important for everyone to know.” Several students are creating walkers using PVC pipes to assist people that may have trouble walking or with balance. These students are also creating assistive grips using sponge rollers and tennis balls.

We are incredibly proud of Ms. Cesar and Ms. Rentas’ class. Their future looks bright and CLEAN!

Special Education Department's After School Intervention Program

By: Cara Van Note and Sean Healy

The Special Education Department’s After School Intervention Program began on January 7th, 2019. The After School Intervention Program is an afterschool tutorial program consisting of small group, intensive literacy or mathematics instruction using one of the Special Education Department’s intervention programs. Five schools; #5, #20, #29, #33 and #40, adopted the program.

After School Intervention Program

The extra after school support was offered to general education and special needs students in grades one through twelve who were identified as being at risk for academic failure. Currently, more than 40 students participate. The program provides these students with additional instructional time, one to one attention and small group assistance in basic reading or mathematics skills. Individualized attention and instruction enhances students’ mastery of basic skills leading to greater success with grade level content and improved self-confidence. The after school program is coordinated by lead teachers, Cara Van Note and Sean Healy.

Come Visit Our 'Webinars for Parents' Page

By: Jakleen Basha

The Special Education Department is delighted to present a series of Webinars and Public Service Announcements for parents to help their children succeed at school and at home.

Webinars for Parents, Left: Grades PRE K to Mid 1st., Right: Wondering & Elopement in Children with Autism: A Parents Guide

The webinars series titled, “Building a Stronger Reader at Home,” is a 5-part presentation that opens with a video focusing on beginning readers from Pre-K – Mid 1st grade. The video demonstrates multisensory approaches that parents can do at home with their children to help them build the foundation of phonics and phonemic awareness.

In Parts 2 - Grades 1-2 and Part 3 - Grades 3-5 of the webinar series, parents of older children learn strategies to help their children blend and segment words in order to build their children’s fluency. Part 4 - Homework Strategies and Part 5 - Comprehension Strategies provide valuable tips and strategies for parents who are struggling to help their children with homework and comprehension skills.

Additionally, the Special Education Department’s LINKS Team has developed Public Service Announcements to help guide parents with a variety of topics that help their children outside of the classroom setting. Topics include Back to School Tips, Ways to Help your Child Succeed at School, Wandering and Elopement in Children with Autism: A Parent’s Guide, and more. Both the webinars and PSAs are readily available on the Jersey City Board of Education website under the “Special Education Department” page.

Unified Sports Special Olympics

By: Sean Healy and Pedro Lopez

Top: Track and Field, Basketball, Bowling Bottom: Swimming, Softball

The winter season of the Unified Sports Special Olympics program is in full swing. Practice for swimming, bowling and basketball began in September while softball and Track and Field began in late fall. All sports will continue throughout the school year. More than 150 athletes participate in practice every weekend. Students with special needs and their general education peers develop their athletic skills, sportsmanship, teamwork, social skills and physical fitness during each practice. Bowling and basketball athletes have begun participating in competitions.

The Area Event for bowling was a great success. Twelve athletes earned 1st place, ten athletes won 2nd and seven players earned 3rd place. On March 2nd, 22 bowlers will be attending the Sectional Playoffs for bowling to determine which athletes will participate in the state finals at the Spring Sports Festival on March 24th.

The basketball season began on January 20th. The Jersey City Warriors basketball team is off to a tremendous start with three wins and zero losses. The Sectional Playoffs will be held on March 16th & 17th where the team will compete for the chance to play for the state championship at the Spring Sports Festival in Wildwood, NJ.

The Marlins have 15 swimmers on their roster this year. Their first meet is an area meet on March 9th at the YMCA in Rutherford. The team is excited and look forward to participate in the North Sectional Meet at Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, NJ on April 28th. The coaches and athletes anticipate a successful year.

Special reminder that Miranda Mendoza, a Dickinson High School graduate and athlete since the age of 8, will participate Special Olympic World Games 2019 that will take place on March 12 - 20 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Opening Ceremony will be held on March 14. Awards ceremonies will be held March 16 - 20. Closing ceremony will take place on March 21, 2019. ESPN will be covering the 2019 World Games. Follow this link for live coverage, times, and updates for Team USA.

Jingle All the Way in Music Therapy

By: Lindsey Robinson and Jennifer Manno

Seasonal themed experiences allow our students to become more aware of their environment and promote community orientation. Students can learn and practice fundamental life skills such as what to wear outside, what we expect to see during the season and gain an introduction to new terms and vocabulary words. This winter we are exploring those concepts in music therapy with props including the parachute, jingle bells, scarves and more.

Students Engagement with Jingle Bells

Jingle bells are a fun and wintery way to engage with peers in a therapeutic environment! Students can practice gross motor skills through jingling all the way. Bells with velcro straps provide an adapted way for all students to be involved in the musical winter fun. We can even strap them to our ankles and become jumping bells! Toned bells are used to provide an opportunity for orchestration and creating songs with peers where each student has their individual sound to contribute to the group as a whole. Oh, what fun!

Like A Diamond

By: Amanda Philp

Family Fun at Chuck E. Cheese

By: Heather Piechocki

The Department of Special Education kicked off the 2018 holiday season with a free event for students with special needs and their families. The evening event took place on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at Chuck E. Cheese in Jersey City and was courtesy of the Captain Mark V. Lee, Sr. Toy Drive.

During the event, over 100 children and their families participated in this fun-filled evening. Cheryl Lee, wife of deceased JCFD Captain Mark V. Lee, Sr. arranged for each student, along with their siblings, to receive a wrapped gift. In addition, each child received a $5 gift card for Chuck E. Cheese, had their faces painted, received holiday balloon art from Mrs. Clause and even met Chuck E. Cheese himself! A great time was had by all. A BIG thank you to Mrs. Lee and the Jersey City Firefighters who volunteered and made this event possible.

Thank you for Making this Possible!

The Department of Special Education’s Biggest Toy Drive Yet!

By: Heather Piechocki

During the month of December, the Department of Special Education received toy donations from the following generous organizations: Jersey City Fire Dept. Captain Mark V. Lee, Sr. Christmas Fund Drive • Johnstone Supply - Kenilworth, NJ • Hudson Subaru - Jersey City • Jersey City Police Department Emerald Society

Approximately 1,500 students in self-contained classes received a wrapped gift. We would like to thank our donors for giving of their time and also purchasing the bounty of gifts for our students. Their dedication and generosity have helped to make a difference not only in our community, but also a memorable experience for the children of Jersey City.

Thank you for Making this Possible!

Social Skills Instruction

By: Kristen Nardini

Social skills are one of the core deficits of individuals with Autism. It can be a daily challenge and require intense teaching to support students in learning the ABC’s of social skills and interactions with peers and adults. The students in Ms. Curran’s middle school class at P.S 34 spend a portion of their day working on interacting appropriately with peers, taking turns, having conversations and developing meaningful relationships with their fellow classmates.

Students in Ms. Curran’s Class at P.S 34 Learning Vital Social Skills

These students enjoy playing games, such as, Domino’s and have made significant progress on independently interacting with each other. Social relationships will continue to improve self-confidence and success as they also continue to work on these important skills that they can use throughout life and different settings. Keep up the great work!


By: Mary Hussey and Andrew Esposito

The Children's Adapted Physical Education Program or C.A.P.E, has been very busy over the winter months. Besides teaching our schedule of special needs classes, we were fortunate enough to help distribute Holiday presents to our students at PS#14. The students enjoyed opening their gifts thanks to the kind donations of the Jersey City Police Emerald Society. Other schools we were able to visit with gifts were; PS#8, 23, and MS#7.

Once again we partnered with the New Jersey City University’s basketball team Coached by Marc Brown. He and his wonderful Men’s basketball team instructed a clinic for students in our C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Program, (choosing honesty opportunity integrity character education services). Students broke up into several groups and participated in basketball drills; dribbling, passing and shooting. The day culminated in a shooting game called “knock out.” It was a lot of fun for everyone!

Also, not every student is a basketball enthusiast, so they were able to participate in dancing and badminton activities. Even our supervisor took on one of our students in a game of “horse”.

We are looking forward to our spring activities with all our students in our special needs classes.

More to come!!

Created By
Jaime Merced

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