Latest News

  • Rye Lake Students Urged to Find their Motivation, Define their Own Success

    Motivational speaker David Ibrahim from Berkeley College, in a workshop titled, “Journey to the Top,” offered Rye Lake students some secrets to success in life.  “You can’t kind of want to do something and expect to be successful. When you really want something, you find a way to get it,” Ibrahim said. Read more here.

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  • Tappan Hill Dedicates Bench in Honor of SWBOCES Student Who Passed Away Last Summer

    Although he had multiple disabilities and was in a lot of pain, Steven Moses had a gentle smile, an infectious laugh and a great sense of humor that moved a lot of people. Steven, a Special Services student at Southern Westchester BOCES for six years, died in late August a few weeks after turning 21. On Jan. 6, members of his family attended a ceremony at Tappan Hill School in Tarrytown to dedicate a bench in his honor. Read the full story here.

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  • Read our January 2017 e-newsletter

    The January 2017 edition of the monthly Center for Special Services e-newsletter can be viewed here. Have a look and check back for the February edition, due out soon.

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  • Center for Special Services Psychologists, Social Workers Hold Annual Breakfast for Support Staff

    SWBOCES Center for Special Services psychologists and social workers held their annual Holiday Breakfast last month to thank all the support staff for their help and hard work throughout the year.

    The employees they honored at the party included administrative support staff, such as program assistants; custodians; technology specialists Frank D’Ambrosio and Kevin McSweeney; and security staff members.

    “We thanked all of the people who really make our school lives run much more smoothly and who quietly support the work that we do,” said Dr. Penny Knack, an SWBOCES psychologist at Irvington High School.

    The most popular item on the menu was the fresh pancakes served up by Dr. Sara Stave throughout the morning, although everyone seemed to enjoy the bagels and lox, fresh fruit salad, brownies, cookies and cakes, and the frittata.  

    The psychologists and social workers are: Nicole Ciaivardini, Steve Coleman, Michele Insalaco, Robyn Kleinman-Spencer, Dr. Knack, Rachelle Kritzer, Yolette Levy, Katie Lockwood, Kenn Mann, Rebecca Phang, Bill Ruth and Dr. Stave.

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  • SWBOCES Teacher at Farragut Middle School Tests out Hot New Technology

    Mitch Cohen does it all. He teaches science, math and technology in the Southern Westchester BOCES Center for Special Services program at Farragut Middle School in Hastings-On-Hudson. He is a master at designing hands-on instruction that motivates students to learn, think critically and ask questions. So when the SWBOCES technology department decided to try out the latest and greatest interactive technology, staff members asked Mr. Cohen to use it in his classroom for a week and provide feedback.   

    Mr. Cohen said a great feature of TRUTOUCH interactive panel is that it allows users to take notes on a digital whiteboard with the most comfortable writing experience available on a touch screen. With the use of one interactive display, all the tools teachers need are right at their fingertips, instead of using old, stained whiteboards that force them to constantly erase good ideas.   

    Staff reported that students enjoyed using this new teaching tool so much that they were discussing Mr. Cohen’s classes long after they ended. Mr. Cohen said both he and the students loved using the TRUTOUCH panel. 

    SWBOCES plans to purchase several Newline TRUTOUCH interactive displays for the Center for Special Services this school year.

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  • Pocantico Students Practiced Kindness, “Traveled” the Earth and Outer Space in December

    December was a busy month for students and teachers in the SWBOCES Center for Special Services program at Pocantico Hills. On the Friday before winter break, they participated in a sing-along. Kevin McSweeney, SWBOCES technology facilitator, played the guitar while children sang many holiday favorites. Santa Claus made an appearance and gave candy canes to students.

    These were other notable activities at Pocantico Hills in December:

    -- Second- and third-graders in Erin deSpoelberch’s class discussed and brainstormed ways to be kind to others. Each school day, they chose one small act of kindness to practice. After performing a good deed, they each glued a description of it on their “Calendar of Kindness.”  The projects were posted for the whole school to see.

    -- The “Elf on the Shelf” was part of a daily vocabulary development program in Ms. deSpoelberch’s class. Every morning, her second- and third-grade students located the elf and participated in a group discussion on how to describe him, based on his action and location. Children learned how to expand and refine their vocabulary. One day, for example, students initially said the elf was by the window. After developing and building on their description, they progressed to a more detailed one: “Our classroom elf is using a grappling hook to slide down the rope from window to window.” After students worked together to revise and edit their description each day, they read it to Principal Jessica Walker to see how quickly and easily she could find the elf.

    -- Third- and fourth-grade students in Melissa Santoro’s class learned about Earth science. Each pupil had an opportunity to act out the sun and Earth’s relationship in the heliocentric universe. One child acted as the sun, standing still, and another was the Earth rotating on its axis at a simulated 23.5 degrees. Simultaneously, the “Earth” revolved around the “sun.” It was an engaging experience to learn about the awareness of our bodies in space.

    -- Students in James Walsh’s class safely “landed” their “space shuttle” after exploring the solar system and beyond. Now that they have returned to Earth, their “voyage” is land-based. The third- and fourth-graders are discovering the locations of continents, countries and oceans. In one unit, they “traveled” throughout the United States to learn where states and capitals are located. The children will be “visiting” other countries and continents as they set out on their global journey.

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  • New SWBOCES Principal Found Calling for Special Education While Teaching in Katonah-Lewisboro

    After teaching in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District in various roles, Allison Emig transitioned into special education and discovered that she has a passion for teaching children with special needs.

    For half of her 15 years in Katonah-Lewisboro, she created special-education programs for students with autism and developmental disabilities. She taught grades 3 through 5 for five years, developing a program to integrate technology into the classroom soon after the creation of iPads. She then started a new special-education program for grades 6 and 7.

    Ms. Emig, who also worked as a teacher on special assignment in Katonah-Lewisboro, enrolled at Manhattanville College two years ago to obtain a degree in educational leadership. Soon after graduating in August 2016, she saw an advertisement for principal of the Decagon at the Rye Lake Campus and jumped at the chance to use her skills as a special education teacher and administrator. She started the job Oct. 31 and is grateful for the opportunity to work for Southern Westchester BOCES’ Center for Special Services.

    “I’ve always wanted to be a principal,” she said. “I absolutely love working with teachers. I like having that creative partnership with them.”

    At Rye Lake, Ms. Emig supervises the Therapeutic Support Program for Developmentally Delayed students and Autism Spectrum Disorder Programs. She is also responsible for the Intensive Day Program on the campus. “It’s just incredibly rewarding when you see children who have significant disabilities make progress,” she said.

    Ms. Emig said working as a principal also keeps her close to the children. “The kids are amazing,” she said. “I already feel very connected with the children, and I also feel connected to the staff.”

    Other parts of her mission as principal are to develop relationships with families and SWBOCES school districts. “My next goal is to feel more connected to the districts and families that we serve,” she continued.

    Ms. Emig, who grew up in Orange County, was offered a job in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District when she completed her graduate student teaching there. After teaching kindergarten and fourth grade, she took a seven-year leave to raise her children. She returned to Katonah-Lewisboro and was a teacher on special assignment, which is similar to an assistant principal, in a kindergarten through fifth-grade school.

    Ms. Emig has been married for 20 years. She, her husband, their son and daughter, and their two dogs live in Dutchess County. She describes herself as the quintessential soccer (and hockey) mom. Her son, who is 13, plays on a travel ice hockey team. Her 15-year-old daughter is on a travel soccer team. Both play for their high school junior varsity teams.

    Her children and husband were very supportive of her while she was in graduate school, lending a hand to cook dinner or otherwise help out if she had a deadline for a paper or another assignment for school.

    “My family members are my No. 1 fans,” she said. “We all are achieving our dreams in the family because we all work so hard to help each other.”

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Special Services Events

  • Dismissal 11:15 : RLC, CTE, Tappan Hill, St. Matt's

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  • Superintendent's Conference Day: Irvington HS

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  • Irvington HS: Delayed Opening (PD)

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  • Superintendent's Conference Day: Pocantico Hills

    Center for Special Services
  • Dismissal 11:15 : RLC, CTE, Tappan Hill, St. Matt's

    Center for Special Services
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From around our schools

DASA Coordinators

Rye Lake Campus:    Cristina Tompkins  914-948-7271 x1226

Farragut Middle School & Irvington High School:    Monica Johnson  914-591-8963

Valhalla Campus:    Eileen Yip  914-761-3400

Pocantico Elementary School & Tappan Hill School:    Rachelle Kritzer  914-948-7271 x1206

St. Matthews:    Kathryn Lockwood  914-761-7516