Westfield Public School District’s Extended School Year Program for pre-school through high school students is in full swing. The five-week program is designed for targeted students and provides special education and related services during the summer. In addition to fulfilling a state mandate intended for public schools, Westfield’s program focuses on maintaining and strengthening students’ academic skills to prepare them for the new school year.
In its 15th year in Westfield, the program runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Aug. 9. Specialists are available in Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Behavior/Social Skills, Orton-Gillingham Reading, along with special education teachers, paraprofessionals, and a registered school nurse.
According to Michael Weissman, assistant superintendent of pupil personnel services, “For the most part, our own faculty and related service providers work with the children in the summer, resulting in instructional consistency and efficiency all year round. The added benefit to the in-district program is that it continues to save us hundreds of thousands of dollars, since we would otherwise be required to find out-of-district facilities for these students.”
A total of 161 students are enrolled in the program with the pre-school through fifth grade program held at Washington Elementary School, while Westfield High School is the location for grades six or higher. Some students are enrolled for “related services” only and attend weekly sessions with therapists. Related and supplemental services are an integral part of the program that helps students advance toward attaining their annual goals.
This summer one of Westfield’s new Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) classes is preparing to enter Edison Intermediate School with teacher Janice Colbert in September. “Classes are designated as ABA where the science of ‘behaviorism’ is applied to make meaningful changes in students’ actions,” explained Joanne Ryan, Supervisor of the Extended School Year. “The ABA technique breaks down skills into small components, taught one on one with a reinforcement used to gain a favorable behavior,” she added.
“All of the students enrolled in our Extended School Year program are selected based on an established regression-recoupment analysis which demonstrates that a student experiences significant regression over breaks from school,’ stated Mrs. Ryan.
In further describing the program’s goal, Mrs. Ryan said, “The maintenance of academic skills is vital, as well as the social and therapeutic activities offered to our students.”