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Apr 5

Juvenile Detention Center Education Program Students Engage in Lesson about Air Resistance

Students in the CREC Juvenile Detention Center Education Program spent a day in March learning the effects of air resistance on falling objects. The lesson, taught with parachutes, was part of the Connecticut Science Center Outreach Program.During the visit, organized by HJDC science teacher, Everett Hillman, students created and tested parachutes to determine how air resistance affects falling objects. Science learning was enhanced for both staff and students as everyone participated in this hands-on enrichment activity. Two of our students’ parachutes were selected by the program facilitators to be displayed at the Science Center in Hartford. The program was funded by a grant from the CT Science Center....

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Apr 5

Autism Awareness Month Feature: Dental Desensitization Program Developed at CREC River Street School is Growing

Seven years ago, behavior analysts and nurses at the CREC River Street School Autism Program at the Birken Campus developed a Dental Desensitization Program to help a child with autism who was unable to sit through routine dental visits without being restrained or sedated. The program succeeded in teaching the child to tolerate exams without behaviors, and she began visiting the dentist on a more regular basis. Since then, the program has grown to include more and more children, a simulated dental suite and partnerships with multiple organizations around the state.This procedure, developed in 2010, utilized a comprehensive strategy that breaks down the dental routine into very small steps and reinforces toleration to each step. When the child exhibited avoidance behaviors, we reinforced her for completing previously mastered steps and then reintroduced an easier version of the avoided step. Initially, staff used space in the school nurse’s office as a practice area. Over time and with donations from community dentists, a simulated dental suite with dental chair and modified dental instruments was completed. Also, we developed a relationship with the Dental Coordinator for the CT Department of Developmental Services and directors of the Dental Hygiene program at Lincoln College of New England – Southington Campus. Students in the Associate Degree program in dental hygiene travel to our school, weekly, to learn about our strategy and work with our children. Through this collaboration, our children are provided exposure to health care professionals and the dental hygiene students gain knowledge and practical experience that can transfer to helping children with autism in community dental offices. Recently, we partnered with dental students and professors at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine (UConn) and the UConn Special Care Dentistry Interest Group. The students provide generalization opportunities for our children at the UConn Kane Street Special Care Connection Program in West Hartford. These visits allow our children to experience the sights, smells, and sounds of the actual dental office setting. Our partnerships with Lincoln College and UConn have enhanced learning for our children and increased the likelihood of their success during their own community dental visits. Lastly, we presented our program at annual conferences including the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT) and the Connecticut Association for Behavior Analysis (CTABA). Recently, the CT Department of Public Health invited us to present information about our program to dental hygienists servicing children with special needs in local school districts. We are very excited about all of our opportunities and hope to continue to promote better dental health outcomes for children with autism.For information about our program, please contact Dianne Soucy, MA, BCBA and Jocelyn Pardi ,RN @ (860) 727-8481....

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Mar 2

CREC Releases PBandMath

CREC’s Studio 111 has released its first product, an online application called PBandMath. Studio 111 (www.crec.org/dart/studio111), CREC’s application development wing, has released its first product, a web-based app called PBandMath that generates Common Core-aligned math problems for elementary school teachers. This really cool app will help reduce the amount of time teachers in grades 1 through 5 spend writing practice problems for their students. Using PBandMath, teachers can build a bank of math word problems in minutes and print them out or display them using an interactive white board projector. Studio 111 was established within CREC's Data Analysis, Research & Technology (DART) division to create innovative solutions for educational problems using technology and software. The studio develops compelling, educational applications and aims to establish a software innovation pipeline within CREC to help cultivate internal ideas into original, extraordinary products. “Working with our own CREC teachers, we were able to make a product that not only saves teachers time, but is also fun and engaging to use in the classroom,” said Rob Steller, product manager. External organizations and entities may also contract with Studio 111 for application development of their own design. Teachers can access many features of PBandMath for free. For more information checkout their website: pbandmath.com...

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Mar 1

CREC Online Learning Portal

Online learning technology is constantly changing and CREC is most definitely keeping up with the times!Our teaching professionals and management staff across the region are continually asking us and searching for alternative modes of teaching that offer creative, hands-on, real-time and evergreen learning opportunities for students and educators. Kristen Raymond, Assistant Principal at Thomaston High School stated recently, “The CREC Online Learning Portal is an important avenue that is giving my students opportunities to develop individual and balanced educational plans with options that are just not always available through the school. This year I have already enrolled 13 of my students and am so pleased that a majority of them are working on additional World Language courses.”Kathy Randall, CREC Online Learning Coordinator, couldn’t agree more and is proud of the work done recently to update the CREC Online Portal. “Our Portal has a major goal: to entice regional students, parents and learning professionals to take advantage of and enhance their available study time through technology with new and improved courseware that embrace all types of learning styles,” she said. “Simply put, the CREC Online Portal is available with great courses when you need them.”CREC On-Line Learning Portal is accessible from home and offers virtual learning opportunities for students of all levels from those with medical issues to those with learning disabilities and advanced learners looking for the next AP challenge to educators looking for professional development, and everyone in between.If you are not yet acquainted with us, we invite you to take a look at the CREC On-line Portal at http://crec.gennet.us/. Our multiple vendors offer over 2,500 courses that are available around the clock. Take a look, give us a call and we can get you started on a new pathway to learning....

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Feb 1

Beyond Education - CREC Connects Students to Life Changing Opportunities

CREC's Community Education division recognizes one of its students, Freily Medina, for her hard work, dedication, and leadership in and out of the CREC Family Literacy program. Medina arrived in the United States four years ago, apprehensive about her new environment and struggling to understand an unfamiliar language and culture."I specifically chose to attend CREC after hearing several recommendations about the outstanding services, teachers, and staff they have available to provide students with the care, support, and education they need to pursue their goals... and that was exactly what I received," Medina said. She enrolled in basic English classes through CREC’s Family Literacy program, which also provided her two young daughters, ages 2 and 3, with early childhood education. Medina worked diligently to refine her language skills, and as a result of her hard work, was able to qualify for and enroll in the advanced English class the following year. During her time in the CREC Family Literacy program, Medina, along with the guidance and support of CREC staff, has been able to obtain her driver's license, successfully complete her advanced English course, and secure citizenship in partnership with the Hartford Public Library’s Immigration Department. Medina plans to study in the medical office assistant program at Manchester Community College this spring.CREC’s Family Literacy program supports students like Freily Medina by offering a wide range of services that allow students to stay focused on completing their education. The CREC Community Education division regularly receives donations from local organizations, including winter coats, gloves, hats, hygiene products, back packs, clothing, diapers, baby formula, and furniture. Access to these items has allowed students to concentrate on their studies, even in times of need. Program participants also receive hot and nutritious meals from House of Bread, along with professional attire from Dress for Success and Savers for job interviews and career fairs. These additional services allow our students to stay focused on completing their education. CREC congratulates Freily Medina and looks forward to continuing to serve students in the Family Literacy program.###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966 and is celebrating 50 years of academic excellence. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 17 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org....

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Jan 31

Speech-Language Pathology - More Than Just Words

A national shortage of speech and language pathologists has hit crisis proportions and Connecticut is no exception. The Connecticut State Department of Education’s statistics indicate that there has been a shortage of speech and language pathologists as far back as 1998. A significant impact on why students with special needs are not able to receive speech and language services as part of their Individualized Education Plan is a result of districts not having enough qualified staff. Janet Scialdone, CREC Staffing Solutions Manager, reports that this year it continues to be a problem. “One solution is to provide qualified interim speech and language pathologists who are available for short-term assignments,” Scialdone suggests. Susan Malecky, a speech and language pathology consultant for CREC says, “I have always loved being a speech and language pathologist. This is my dream job! Through the option of a flexible schedule, I am able to continue working and have time for other pursuits.” At a parent and student’s request, an incoming freshman was recommended for a speech and language review to determine if her articulation abilities warranted speech services at the high school level for her to meet expected academic progress, and Malecky supported this request. Upon entering high school, the student and parent reported that the student felt uncomfortable speaking in class because she felt she could not be understood. Numerous observations of the student during academic classes, shop, lunch, one-one-one sessions, and teacher interviews supported this finding: upon occasion she would speak one-on-one with a teacher and was very social with a group of familiar peers at lunch. Overall, speech intelligibility, when she did speak, was good and consistent with previous findings. Her special education teacher reported that the student was struggling in several classes, and PowerSchool revealed that there were many missed assignments and poor test grades. The student reported that she was too busy at home to do the work, was inconsistently compliant with academic support services, and did not seek assistance when needed.It appeared that the family and student were focused on articulation issues and not overall academic performance and personal responsibility as a learner. These issues were discussed with the student, parent, and team members, and both home and school strategies/supports were put into place to decrease the student’s communication anxieties, increase personal responsibility, and improve academic performance. What had initially been presented as an articulation concern was in fact an issue related to school anxiety. Collaboration between home and school has resulted in a positive outcome for the student.Districts and educational organizations like Hartford, New London, Enfield, Granby, Cromwell, and the Connecticut Technical High Schools, who have all struggled with shortages of speech and language pathologists, have found the use of interim speech and language pathologists to be an excellent option until they can find permanent staff members. “Using interim staffing from CREC allowed us to meet our students Individualized Education Plan hours and goals” reflected Jill Dymczyk, a special education consultant for Connecticut Technical High Schools. For more information about how you or your district can benefit from CREC Staffing Solutions, contact Janet Scialdone at jscialdone@crec.org or 860-509-368.###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966 and is celebrating 50 years of academic excellence. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 17 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org....

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Dec 22

Put School Safety First

(Hartford, CT) School security has always been important, but the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown thrust the issue into the spotlight, prompting school districts throughout the country to reexamine their policies and procedures.Educators and law enforcement and government officials have been working together to make sure the safest learning environments are provided for all children, but we can’t be complacent. School districts need to remain vigilant and continue to scrutinize practices, train staff, and strengthen relationships with public safety officials. If a man under the influence of drugs entered a high school hallway near classrooms and the cafeteria, what would you do? Would you know to isolate that person immediately before he entered space occupied by students? Would you know to simultaneously notify security so the police could be called and the person could be escorted off school property?In Connecticut, Public Act 13-3 can be referenced for a comprehensive list of state requirements regarding school security. CREC can also help. CREC’s Director of Public Safety, Chris Nolan, is a retired state police lieutenant and brings real-world law enforcement experience to his job at CREC. He’s a valuable resource—one that you can use. With Nolan’s extensive background in crisis management, CREC is able to offer several security services, including staff training and workshops on security technology. Security audits are available, and CREC can help you develop emergency and crisis management plans. As you consider your school’s emergency preparedness procedures, Nolan shares the following tips:Be sure to regularly talk to your local first responders about school safety plans. The more you communicate; the better off you will be in an emergency. Make sure your school staff members receive an overview of the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System at the beginning of each school year and understand its value. Knowledge is power!Review and update school safety and security plans regularly. Don’t forget to submit them to the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. Assessing security and vulnerability for each school is an important part of being prepared. Connecticut state law requires schools to conduct assessments in these areas every two years. Take these assessments seriously. For more information about CREC’s security services, visit www.crec.org/safety.###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966 and is celebrating 50 years of academic excellence. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 17 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org....

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