Special Education

While students who benefit from special services may learn differently, they remain more similar to their peers than not. Their needs for emotional connections, feelings of belonging, a sense of worth, an ability to be creative and confident, and a positive school experience transcend the potential negative consequences of their disability. As the adults who are molding these students into productive citizens of fine character, it is our obligation to discover their modes of learning and teach different and compensatory strategies so that independence and success are achieved to the greatest extent possible. 

One purpose of Special Education is to identify those students who are not able to meet the academic expectations of the general education curriculum due to a learning profile that interferes with their ability. Once identified as a student with a disability, Special Education provides individualized services in order to “level the playing field,” thereby enhancing the possibility that those students will meet the same high standards as their peers. Access to general education, at an appropriate level, is one key to the provision of services and the philosophy of “Least Restrictive Environment” ensures that students are educated in the setting closest to that of their peers that also meets their individual needs.

One difficulty that presents itself in a smaller district, such as Waterford-Halfmoon UFSD, is that of similar grouping. While it is always our goal to keep students in their home school, for students whose needs require programming in a more specialized setting, at times classroom placements are contracted with BOCES in component school districts so that students with similar needs can be educated together. However, the small nature of our district also affords us the opportunity for greater continuity of service; when moving from one grade span to the next, communication about students’ needs occurs naturally. It is the staunch commitment of everyone in the department to address the needs of our students in the most effective manner possible.