Bright Spot Of Innovation

Bright Spot Of Innovation
Posted on 06/09/2020
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In this series, Special Ed Connection® profiles education service providers across the country who are using innovative and collaborative approaches to serve students with disabilities during extended school closures due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

BRIGHT SPOT OF INNOVATION: Connecticut director builds parent, school connections during closures 


Director name and title: Yvette Goorevitch, Chief of Specialized Learning. 

School district: Norwalk (Conn.) Public Schools. 

Activity: Developed weekly Zoom to Facebook Live sessions to help parents of students with disabilities with distance learning strategies. 

Story: Yvette Goorevitch, an experienced special education administrator, wanted to know what teachers and parents were about to encounter when distance learning was scheduled to go live in her district in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To do so, she asked to be a guest teacher for her granddaughter's kindergarten friends. 

What she learned is that teachers need to plan for the quality, not the quantity of lessons, and that teachers should have all needed resources at their fingertips before a virtual class begins. If a teacher walks away from the screen for a moment, the children may think class is over, said Goorevitch, chief of specialized learning at Norwalk (Conn.) Public Schools. 

The experience also affirmed Goorevitch's belief that it would be critical to have strong partnerships with parents of students with disabilities while students learn from their homes. "You have to get to a point of collaboration and trust," she said. "Without parental trust, you can't have the special education program."

The need for parent-school connections led Goorevitch to develop weekly Zoom meetings that are held live over on the district's Department of Specialized Learning Facebook page and posted on YouTube. The meetings, titled "Be Kind to Yourselves and Each Other," have different focus points. The most recent meetings discussed services for students with dyslexia and students with behavioral challenges. 


The one-hour meetings are hosted by Goorevitch, members of the district's Parent Advisory Council, and district staff with expertise in the subject being discussed. During the sessions, viewers can submit questions into the Facebook app. The district also posts relevant resources from different organizations. A recent example was a list of strategies to build motivation skills. The sessions have been popular in the community, Goorevitch said, adding that the meeting about behavioral supports at home had nearly 2,000 views. 

"We try to touch on topics parents are asking about," she said.

Goorevitch has also surveyed parents about students' acclimation to distance learning, their technology needs, their preferred mode of communication with the school, and if they are in immediate need of food, medicine, or other basic services. Of the 1,700 surveys that Goorevitch sent out, she received 500 responses, she said.

She and the Parent Advisory Council are planning for more meetings and more opportunities to strengthen communication and collaboration between parents and educators during this public health crisis. "We can't do it without them, and they can't do it without us," Goorevitch said. 


May 12, 2020 

Copyright 2020© LRP Publications

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