Support Services

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Support services are designed and implemented to help students reach their full potential. A continuum of services are provided through the Student Success Team and/or the school’s Planning and Placement Team (PPT).

The Student Success Team (SST) is a collaborative, school-wide team of educators, including classroom teachers, interventionists, and school-based support staff.  This team meets regularly to develop and monitor intervention plans to support students who are demonstrating limited academic or behavioral progress within the core classroom environment and curriculum. A Student Success Team (SST) team meeting may be initiated after the child’s teacher has implemented differentiated supports within the classroom environment. At a Student Success Team meeting, the child’s teacher will collaborate with school-based support staff and interventionists to develop and monitor a focused, intervention plan. Classroom teachers and/or interventionists communicate all aspects of the plan with parents/guardians.

The school’s Planning and Placement Team (PPT) works with students referred by their parents/guardians, a teacher, or the principal. Once referred, this team of specialists assesses children’s needs and if a student if found eligible under IDEA, provides specialized instruction to meet these needs in the classroom, in special classes, or in a resource room setting. The PPT includes the parent, special education teacher, classroom teacher, school counselor (secondary), appropriate related service staff members, and administrator.

Pupil Services

Special Education Instruction

Resource: The special education and general education teachers work closely together to foster learning environments that support students in their work toward attaining West Hartford's academic standards. Individual student needs are identified and programs are planned through the Planning and Placement Team (PPT). The PPT identifies students who are eligible to receive special education services and then design Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). To the maximum extent possible, students participate in the general education curriculum with supports, services, and instruction designed to allow them to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities in a variety of ways.

Intensive Academic: Elementary School Intensive Academic Support is provided for students with significant developmental disabilities such as autism, cognitive delays, bio neurological impairments, significant speech and language disabilities and/or multiple disabilities. Students are referred to the appropriate school for access to more focused and targeted strategies and interventions along with increased time within the special education environment. The teachers and staff in the intensive programs are selected for their specialized experience and training. Related Services are integrated into the program.

Instruction is delivered in both the general education classroom with support and/or the Learning Center. The Intensive Academic programs are located at Norfeldt, Whiting Lane, and Wolcott Schools. Students attending these schools and accessing the intensive academic support programs may live in that school’s neighborhood or may live in a non-program school neighborhood.

Carrie Blanchard

Special Education Teacher

Stephanie Murphy

Special Education Teacher

Nancy Farooque

Special Education Teacher

Jennifer Thumma

Special Education Teacher

Rosemary Hill

Special Education Teacher

Speech & Language

Speech and language pathologists (SLPs) provide a variety of therapeutic services to eligible students in preschool through 12th grade. Students diagnosed with speech, language and communication disorders are provided with direct therapy in individual, small group and/or classroom settings.

Speech and language pathologists also work closely with parents and teachers in the diagnosis of speech and language disorders, academic and therapeutic planning and implementation of services. They also play a consultative role for parents and educators at all stages of the process: early intervention, pre-referral, diagnosis, and therapy. The provision of services varies based upon the individual needs of the mandated students but each school within the district is covered by one or more speech language pathologists to meet the needs of the mandated students in that school.

Students identified with language impairments (LI) receive speech and language therapy from their speech and language therapists in their neighborhood school. They often receive additional instructional support from their special education resource teacher given the integrated nature of their language and learning needs.

Stephanie Brown

Speech and Language Teacher

Joan Derech

Speech and Language Teacher

Thejasvee Singh

Speech and Language Teacher

Clinical Support: Social Workers/Psychologists

The WHPS Social Workers are clinicians with expertise in child and family development and an understanding of diverse cultural and social systems. Their mission is to ensure the social and emotional well-being of all students in order for them to achieve success in the educational environment and in the community. They accomplish this by providing counseling, consultation and advocacy in collaboration with school staff, families and community resources.

School psychologists provide a broad range of services to schools, students and families to support positive educational outcomes. Drawing on training in psychology and education they engage in collaborative problem solving with educators and parents to accomplish educational goals. Services include prevention and intervention planning, as well as counseling, consultation, and assessment.

Janet Gregorian-Michaelsen

Social Worker

Teresa LeBel Bish

School Psychologist

Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy

The programs of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy are provided to mandated students. The therapist provides supportive and therapeutic services, as well as assistance through mechanized means, to students with varied physical and large and fine motor disabilities. They also include supportive services to regular classroom teachers.

Teachers of the Deaf

Teachers of the Deaf provide direct instruction and consultative services to students (Pre K-12) diagnosed with varying degrees of hearing loss. Depending on student need, the Teachers of the Deaf provide services utilizing aural/oral methods, sign language, and/or cochlear implant therapies. Services are individualized to each student's specific needs based on degree of hearing loss, mode of communication, and mainstream academic needs. These services include diagnostic testing, intense language based instruction, auditory therapy, speech production, speech reading, specialized pre-teaching and post-teaching, as well as ongoing consultation with parents and general education classroom teachers. Additional services include classroom amplification equipment, oral and sign language interpreting, accommodations/modifications in the mainstream, and consultation with audiologists and other specialists.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology Services are provided to special education students to facilitate the student's achievement and access to the general education classroom within the least restrictive environment. The PPT determines what services are appropriate for individual students. West Hartford has an Assistive Technology Consultant and an Assistive Technology Resource Team that provides consultation and support services to all levels (pre-K-12) and all disability categories.

Assistive technology is defined as any device, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. Assistive technology devices range from simple (low technology) through mid- technology tools like tape recorders, calculators, and switch -operated toys to the most sophisticated and cutting edge tools (high technology) which are purchased and/or customized. Examples of low- tech devices include straws or Velcro; high tech devices include computers or motorized wheelchairs.

Department Supervisor

Melissa Cook

Department Supervisor of Pupil Services for Early Learning Centers, Bugbee, Smith STEM, and Whiting Lane

Additional Student Support Services


ESOL and TLP services support English Language Learners in our schools. ELLs speak another language besides English in their homes. Our program's goal is to develop the language skills that are necessary for students to achieve academic success in the mainstream classroom.

The ESOL curriculum is designed to develop language skills such as vocabulary, listening, speaking, reading and writing through thematic units that are aligned with grade-level Common Core Standards. Groups are formed and scheduled based on grade level and students’ individual language proficiency and needs.

Ryan Cronin

TESOL Teacher

Darci Melchor

TESOL Teacher

Reading Support

The Reading Specialists and Reading Intervention teachers support students, families, teachers, and administrators with expertise to improve literacy achievement in Kindergarten-Grade 5 classrooms. They are integral members of school-based Student Success Teams (SST) who plan and monitor literacy supports for students in all grades. Reading intervention staff plan and implement scientific research-based literacy intervention instruction for Grade K-5 students who require additional support to meet grade level expectations. These professionals administer formal and informal assessments to elementary students throughout the year. They are responsible for monitoring and communicating progress with classroom teachers, families, and additional support staff on an on-going basis. Reading Specialists and Reading Intervention teachers collaborate with classroom teachers and provide professional learning support to meet students’ literacy needs within the classroom setting.

Heather Bushnell

Early Intervention Teacher

Valerie Centone

Reading Specialist

QUEST - Gifted and Talented

The mission of the QUEST Program is to ensure that students have an opportunity to develop their unique gifts and talents by creating a learning environment that encourages students to:

Q uestion the world around them

nderstand the need to learn and grow

xplore the past, present, and future

earch for solutions and meanings

hink creatively and critically

A student centered program, QUEST is founded on the principles of the Enrichment Triad Model (Renzulli, 1977) and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (Renzulli and Reis, 1985). The program supports National and State Standards in Education, and is guided by a well developed Scope and Sequence of skill training activities tailored to participating students as they progress toward the excitement of independent discovery through research, diligence, and creative productivity.

Math QUEST provides opportunity for students to interpret ideas through numbers, ideas, and words, and make them meaningful through the process of analyzing information and/or evaluating predictive solutions. Students participate in an environment that cultures creative problem solving and thought.

Through progressively more complex problem solving, text and interest, mathematical tasks are applied according to the greater than two+ years beyond skill level of modification of mathematical application according to pacing and instruction of previously mastered skills. Math QUEST is focused on responding to students’ academic needs to assure the appropriate level of challenge. Math QUEST testing for eligible third and fourth graders occurs in the spring. 

Katherine Hardesty

Quest Teacher at Norfeldt, Smith, and Whiting Lane Schools