Special EDition Newsletter CREATED by: Dr. Gerry Crisonino, Candace Coccaro & Jaime Merced

Feature Photo: ⬆Autism Awareness Month

Summer 2018 Edition

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.


Autism Awareness Poster Contest

By: Jennifer Arrends, Kristen Nardini, Amanda Philp, Stephanie Velenger - TEACH Team

April was Autism Awareness Month and in an effort to raise awareness about Autism, the Special Education Department sponsored a poster contest. Autism affects 1 in 59 children nationwide and 1 in 34 children in New Jersey, including over 600 students in Jersey City Public Schools. Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries, and affects all individuals very differently. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” Dr. Stephen Shore. Typically, students with Autism have difficulties with communication, social skills and repetitive and restrictive behaviors. The most important thing to remember about children with Autism, is that they are children first, and they deserve to be loved, accepted, and respected just like everyone else.

The poster contest was open to all classrooms in the district K-12, divided into three age groups, each with a theme related to promoting Autism Awareness.

• Grades K-4 – Theme “How to be a good friend to someone with Autism”

Grades 5-8 – Theme “Embracing Differences”

Grades 9-12 – Theme “Advocate, Educate, Love, Accept”

Overall, approximately 20 schools across the district submitted posters for the contest. A winner was chosen from each age group and the three winning posters were displayed at Central Office and received $250 worth of School Specialty supplies for their classroom!

Congratulations to Ms. Giulia Pirelli’s Kindergarten class at PS #38, the winner for the grades K-4 theme “How to be a good friend to someone with Autism”, Mr. John Diaz’s class at MS #7, the winner for the grades 5-8 theme “Embracing Differences” and Ms. Mayling Chong’s class at Dickinson High School, the winner for the grades 9-12 theme “Advocate, Educate, Love, Accept”. Again, congratulations to the winners of the poster contest and thank you to all participants for helping to spread Autism Awareness throughout Jersey City Public Schools!

We Stand Unified!

By: Pedro Lopez

JCPS Special Education athletes have once again showed Hudson County what they're made of at this years Special Olympics Hudson County Area Games. NJ.com was on hand to capture the days event and interview our very own Miranda Mendoza-a former graduate of Dickinson High School. A product of Jersey City, Miranda is proud to represent her home town in the Special Olympics where years of competing has netted her numerous gold and silver medals, not to mention ribbons. This years championship meet was held at James J. Braddock North Hudson County Park where athletes competed in relays, long jumps, 100 to 200 meter dashes, and other events.

click to enlarge
Miranda Mendoza bottom right. Click to enlarge.

By: Dorothy Walsh-Calabro

Congratulations to our students on completing another year of the Dynamic Learning Map Alternate Assessment System (DLM). Since September, teachers worked very hard to complete all necessary pretesting requirements to ensure that the testing period which began on April 9 and ran through to June 1 went smoothly, and it did! During the 2017/18 school year 51 teachers administered the DLM to 300 students in 18 of our schools. Testing was completed 2 weeks before the close of the testing window.

click to enlarge

So, what is DLM? It is a computer based assessment system that assesses students with the most severe cognitive disabilities in Language Arts, Math and Science. Students are assessed in grades 3, 8 and 11 for Language Arts and Math and grades 5, 8 and 11 in Science. The program is overseen and supported in all aspects by Danielle Gitlin, Special Education Supervisor, Dorothy Walsh-Calabro, Lead Teacher and Jaime Merced, Technical Coordinator.

The assessment helps educators facilitate student success by illustrating the interrelation among the knowledge, skills, and understandings necessary to meet academic content standards in a learning map model. The learning map model, which is a common road map, was developed by teams of researchers through extensive review and synthesis of research literature. The learning map model helps parents and educators identify a student’s current knowledge and skills, see how the student has developed over time, and look forward to more advanced academic content the student can learn next.

Field Day

By: Olga Leon-Lobello

On June 13, 2018 all the CHOICES Program students had the opportunity to participate in a field day event held at Cortney Fricchione Park in Jersey City. The C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Program (Choosing Honor, Opportunity, Integrity, Character, Excellence and Service) is an alternative specialized program intended to support schools’ efforts to achieve positive change for at-risk students.

The students enjoyed interacting with their pen pal officers from the Jersey City Police Department and the Hudson County Sheriff Office. The first ever field day event was a success thanks to the generous donations of the JCPD, HCSO, JCBA, BLESC, JCFD, Jersey City Recreation Department, Jersey City Department of Health & Human Services, ACME and Subway. The day was filled with fun, food and games for all. The Jersey City Police Department along with the Jersey Fire Department launched C.H.A.T. 4 Change (Conversations, Help, Aid, Transformation), a program aimed at rebuilding and restoring relationships between law enforcement and the community. The program encourages youth to interact/engage with law enforcement throughout the summer. As a reward for engaging a police officer or firefighter children up to 18 years old can collect badges at various planned and pop up badge events. Participants who collect the most badges will win prizes and be honored at the local National Night Out event on August 7, 2018.


By: Bonnie Shultz and the CASP Team

click to enlarge

In Art Therapy group, towards the end of the school year, the term transition/change was addressed. It’s imperative to discuss this topic with the students and teachers. The concept of transition can be abstract and difficult to comprehend, especially when talking about feelings and the inner-self. The following directive focused on transition/change by using a variety of art materials, such as colored construction paper and black markers. The students created nature images and places to visit, such as an Island or New York City. This was a cohesive experience.

click to enlarge

Meeting the needs of our Students, PS 38

By: Christine Osher and Rachel Botnick

During the 2017/18 school year, Mrs. Christine Osher and Ms. Rachel Botnick of PS#38 embarked on transforming their 4th grade inclusion classroom into a flexible seating environment in order to meet the various sensory needs of their students. Thanks in part to a donorschoose.org campaign, coupled with purchasing many “out of the box” items from garage sales, special needs websites, and online marketplaces, their dream became a reality. Each day, before class begins, students are given the opportunity to choose the seat they feel would best suit their academic needs for the day. Not only does this help to motivate them, but it also allows them to experience physical and sensory comfort. Since they will be looping from 4th to 5th grade for the 2018/19 school year, this flexible seating classroom will continue to evolve as the students do.

Students in Christine Osher and Rachel Botnick class at work!

Special Olympics Unified Sports Summer Games

By: Jaime Merced

Jersey City Delegation on their way to Opening Ceremony (click to enlarge)

Jersey City is very proud of its athletes and unified partners who participated in this year’s Special Olympics New Jersey Summer Games. Additionally, it marked the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics as an organization. The event is hosted at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, where they face 2500 of New Jersey’s top athletes in various sporting competitions. When all was said and done, our athletes stood on podiums proudly grasping their medals of gold, silver, and bronze, not to mention awards in various other categories.

click to enlarge

A committed group of coaches prepared our athletes and unified partners through rigorous weekly training. Schools across Jersey City hold the training sessions weekly September through May on Saturday mornings in preparation for this event. They trained in Aquatics, Basketball, Bowling, Softball and Track & Field with great anticipation of this event.

click to enlarge

Teamwork, PS 22

By: Michele Anastos

The students in Ms. Krystal Sanchez’s LD class at PS 22 really enjoy working together. They have developed respect towards each other which was modeled and reinforced by their teacher Ms. Sanchez. Ms. Sanchez implements many group activities that not only enhances their learning experiences, but also teaches the students how to work collaboratively together in groups. She has taught her students how to use positive, meaningful language towards each other when working together in groups. Ms. Sanchez stresses that when working together in a group that it is teamwork and that everyone needs to be a part of the team. The students are always eager and enthusiastic to work together and be part of a team!

click to enlarge

Full STEAM Ahead in our C.H.O.I.C.E.S Classrooms, PS 5 & PS 8

By: Melissa Cook

What is STEAM? STEAM is a teaching approach that combines science, technology, engineering, art, and math. This way of learning increases student engagement, transforms the classroom from a teacher-centered environment to a student- centered classroom, emphasizes problem solving, discovery, and exploratory learning all while working collaboratively.

In Mr. Smith’s class at P.S #5 and Ms. Mussara’s class at P.S. #8, students in grades 3-5 have been participating in STEAM projects that have incorporated literacy in order to introduce the problem. One activity that we completed included reading a readers’ theater of “The Gingerbread Man” where each student had a role to read aloud. We then were faced with a problem of building a boat that would keep a gummy bear dry. Students worked with a partner to create a boat that would float using various materials such as straws, popsicle sticks, bubble wrap, paper and paper clips. The students had 20 minutes to work together and brainstorm ideas in order to build their boat. In both classes, the boats were a success and all of our gummy bears stayed dry!

click to enlarge

Below are some sample materials that can be used to create STEAM activities. Have a few of these items on hand over the summer and see what your child can create!

- Marbles - masking tape - multicolored stickies - paint and paint brushes - paper clips -paper cups - pasta -pipe cleaners -playing cards - popsicle sticks - puzzles - rubber banks - scissors - scrap lumber - stop watches - string - styrofoam balls - toothpicks - yam

Exciting Learning for All Students with UDL, PS #30

By: Donna Renee Middlebrooks

Principal, Dr. Martha Osei-Yaw of P.S. 30 had a vision for her school and wanted all of the students to be actively engaged in the learning process. Recognizing that all of her students are different and that they don’t learn in the same way, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has been incorporated into her school at every grade level. Teachers are providing their students with a variety of ways to learn; and the students are given many choices to demonstrate and express what they have learned through active engagement. The needs of all of the students are being met in this UDL environment. Way to go to the Administrators, staff and students!

click to enlarge

Team Building Day at PS#14

By: Tiffany Magliullo-Fallen

L.I.N.K.S. lead teachers Tiffany Magliulo-Fallon and Donna Middlebrooks collaborated with the staff at PS#14 to provide professional development on cooperative learning strategies. The teachers and students work really hard throughout the year preparing for the PARCC assessment. In order to mentally prepare the students for the assessment, teachers thought they would try something a little different. As a team, they decided that incorporating team building activities and brain breaks into their daily routine would help their students feel at ease while having fun. After spending a few mornings with the lead teachers discussing the importance of brain breaks and team building activities, the 7th and 8th grade teachers were ready to introduce their students to these structures. They spent a few days preparing in the classroom before gathering all of the students for a fun day of team building!

click to enlarge

Campaign Connect teachers assisted the classroom teachers and planned four cooperative learning sessions for the day; Decision Making, Stress Management, Proper Nutrition, and Etiquette. They began the day by meeting in the auditorium to discuss the exciting activities ahead of them. Teachers collected cellphones and the 7th and 8th grade students were placed into four groups. While laughing and engaging in appropriate conversation, each group rotated to each session.

As hoped for by the teachers, the students had an amazing time while making new friends and learned that working together as a team with the same goal in mind can actually make school more enjoyable. In addition, students reflected on the day, sharing their thoughts, both positive and negative. This productive day was brought to an end with pizza and a dance party!

Keeping Parents Informed

By: Jaime Merced

A goal of the Special Education Department is to keep parents informed and provide helpful tips on how to play an active role in their child's life throughout the year. With this in mind, the Special Education Department records Monthly Public Service Announcements (PSA) by a rotating group of Lead Teachers that feature topics, such as, how to help your child become a better reader, effective ways to talk and listen to adolescents, information on the Special Olympics Unified Sports Program, and much more. Simply go to jcboe.org and click the JCETV link to view a list of these and previously recored PSA's.

(left) Jennifer Arends and Kris Nardina, BCBA's (right) Jennifer Manno and Paul Kates, Music Therapists

Springtime in Adapted Physical Education

By: Mary Hussey

During the month of April we celebrated Autism Awareness Month. Students at PS#15 participated in field day in the gym with a bouncy house, scooters and hoppity balls. Students at PS#14 also participated in field day. They had the opportunity to run an obstacle course, play basketball and use a stomp and catch board.

click to enlarge

Our C.H.O.I.C.E.S. students participated in the M.A.R.R.C. event held at MS#7. Here they got to meet their pen pals from the Jersey City Police Department and the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department. They interacted with the police officers while playing basketball, volleyball and tossing a ball to each other while using Velcro mitts. The students are looking forward to field day with their pen pals come June 13th. They’ll participate in kickball and horse shoes to just name a few of the activities.

During the rest of the springtime all of our students participated in tee ball, baseball, kickball, tennis and golf. It’s been a busy springtime!!

Therapeutic Riding

By: Dorothy Walsh-Calabro

Therapeutic riding provides a general sense of well-being, self-confidence and an increased interest in the outside world and one’s own life. Students are offered the opportunity to try something new and learn patience, emotional control, self-discipline and enhanced communication skills.

click to enlarge

The students in Ms. Meola’s class at PS #12 participated in their culminating activity by visiting Hope’s Promise Farm in Chester, New Jersey. During their visit the students engaged in the full experience of Equine activities by learning the basics of horse etiquette, including leading, personal space and respect as well as how to groom and saddle the horse. The students were also able to learn the basics of riding a horse, which was the highlight of the day.

All of the students had a wonderful and exciting day. Along with having the exposure and experience of participating in riding and caring for the horses the students were also excited to see other wildlife they don’t get to see on a daily basis. Maureen Coultas, the owner of the farm and horses, invited the students back for another visit next year.

Ann's Ice Cream Social, Leaps and Bounds & PS 5

By: Sean Healy

Ann Abel’s Ice Cream Social is an annual event held in honor of Jersey City Public School teacher, Ann Abels. Ann was a veteran teacher who worked at the Martin Center for the Arts Public School #41 and in the Special Education Department as a lead teacher. She lost her battle with cancer last year, but her legacy of love, service and happiness lives on.

Ann's Ice Cream Social (click to enlarge)

Her family, friends and colleagues raise money each year to provide students with an ice cream treat to brighten their day and reward their hard work. This year the event took place at our Leaps & Bounds program at Ferris High School and our CHAMPS and CHOICES programs at Dr. Michael Conti Public School #5 on June 8th. The excitement and joy that lights up students’ faces when they first see the ice cream truck is a small, yet fitting, tribute to the love Ann gave to her students and all who knew her.

Grateful students at the Leaps and Bounds Program sign a thank you card created by their art teacher Mr. Sosa.

First Grade SSE Stars! PS 39

By: Cara Van Note

click to enlarge

A lot of great things are happening over at PS #39! The first grade students have been involved in the Sonday System Essentials (SSE) program since November 2017. Throughout the past seven months, their progress has been amazing! Ms. Gross’ class started the year at a cumulative DORA Phonics score of 0.16. When tested on DORA in June, the class scored a cumulative score of 1.1! The growth in Ms. Gross’ class has not only been on assessments, but also in confidence. Many of Ms. Gross’ students are currently enrolled in an ESL program. Four of these students are here in the United States from another country. One student, who has made tremendous growth, has been in the USA for LESS than a year.

click to enlarge

Ms. Greene’s first grade class has also made impressive progress throughout the SSE program. Room 207 scored a cumulative score of 0.14 on DORA Phonics in the beginning of the year. By June, the class scored a cumulative score of 2.33 on DORA Phonics! Through hard work, multi-sensory techniques, and organization, Ms. Greene’s class DOUBLED their cumulative results.

Spring Luncheon, Academy 1

By: Veronica Krause

The weather was beautiful for the Annual Academy 1 Middle School Spring Luncheon and a wonderful time was had by our students from the CHAMPS and TEACH programs. Ms. Sarah Richardson, along with Mr. Davon Gertrude, Ms. Jacquelena Marchiano and Ms. LeKeisha Rosario worked tirelessly to organize the event which was a huge success. This years theme was a Luau party and the students and staff had a blast! All of the staff volunteered in the preparations and set up ensuring that the event ran smoothly. The smiles on the students’ faces say it all. Plans are already in the works for next year's luncheon which will be a carnival theme.

click to enlarge

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.