Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Winter Update

I cannot believe it is already February. The month of January seemed to pass by so quickly. I hope that everyone enjoyed their break during the month of December and found some time to relax and refresh for the new year. 

Sarah Ward

On December 18, through the generosity of MCPE, Sarah Ward came to talk to both staff and the community about supporting students with executive functioning. The opportunity to have all staff attend the afternoon session was incredible. I sent out a survey to elicit feedback afterwards and 160 staff members completed it. Of the 160 members, 93.5% rated it a 4 or a 5 (out of 5). I received comments such as "I appreciate the PD ~ got the clock up today & will take some pics of what "done" looks like, had my son point out his plan for soccer prep last night & new whiteboard structure on kitchen fridge"; "Great presentation- thanks- heard many teachers talking about it today and how informative and practical it was!"; "She was fantastic. A lot of people took a lot away from it. The visual "readiness" photos are game changers. I'm done with checklists. #NonVerbal"; "I thought ti was a tremendous achievement to have an entire district PD presentation that connected to each level, educator and discipline. She was thoughtful in presenting information to teachers and also connection it to home life/parenting".  

Staff were able to put many of the strategies that Sarah recommended into action the very next day. We are looking forward to continuing to implement her ideas and working as a district to think about executive functioning success for all students. 

English Learner Professional Development

On January 17, our EL Program Coordinator, Gigi Lozano, presented to elementary staff on the federal laws of working with our EL students, the ins and outs of the WIDA (Word Class Instructional-Design and Assessment), SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) model and best practices. She then allowed time for teams to work together to improve their own assessments to support all students. Gigi quoted Frank Smith, a psycholinguist, stating "Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift.  Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club-the community of speakers of that language". It was a productive, informative and collaborative experience for all.

Civil Right Self-Evaluation Committee

The Civil Rights Self-Evaluation Committee has begun work assessing the district in a variety of manners including the review of readily available data, equity walk-throughs at each building and analysis of the survey results that went out to all. The group will meet again after the February break to determine an action plan to help the district continue to move forward in this area. If you have any questions or would like to be a part of the process next year, please contact Mary Bruhl at mbruhl@email.medfield.net.


Please join us for the next SEPAC meeting on March 24 from 7-9pm at the Blake Middle School LMC. It will be a presentation titled No Sibling Left Behind: Supporting Siblings of Children with Disabilities. 


Mary Bruhl
Director of Student Services

Friday, December 13, 2019

Busy time of year!

I hope everyone is enjoying the colder weather and all of the activities that occur at this time of year.

Staffing Changes

Our special education teacher in the ACCESS program at Wheelock left for a position with the Newton Public Schools. We were very fortunate to have Brook Cote join us. She has a plethora of experiences with a majority of her time spent with the Hopedale Public Schools. 

One of our district BCBAs, Catherine Casey, chose to stay home with her growing family as well. We are sad to see her leave but very happy for her to have this opportunity. There has been a new hire for this position and contact information will be shared shortly.

Professional Development

The district had an early release day on November 8 and the Department of Student Services was able to capitalize on this time greatly. One such opportunity was for the counseling staff pre-k to 12 who all worked together with an outside presenter to delve into therapeutic supports and strategies. There was great discussion amongst the group and I am excited to see the work in action.

New to this year, the teaching assistants and behavior technicians stay for professional development. It has been a wonderful addition to our programming and I am thrilled to have everyone joining in this effort. During the first early release day, groups met together to discuss their jobs and develop norms and expectations. They also provided potential areas of interest for future professional development sessions. As a result, both elementary and secondary worked on de-escalation and behavior management strategies at the professional development in November. 

Medfield Talks

Please join us on December 18 at 7pm at Medfield High School for a presentation: "Learn it Today, Use it Tomorrow! Practical Strategies to Develop Independent Executive Function Skills" by Sarah Ward. Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC/SLP has over 25 years of experience in diagnostic evaluations and treatment of executive dysfunction.  Ms. Ward holds a faculty appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. Sarah is an internationally recognized expert on executive function and presents seminars and workshops on the programs and strategies she has developed with her Co-Director Kristen Jacobsen. Their 360 Thinking Executive Function Program received the Innovative Promising Practices Award from the National Organization CHADD. She has presented to and consulted with over 1200 public and private schools in the United States, Canada and Europe. This presentation is part of Medfield Talks and is graciously funded by MCPE. 

Ms. Ward will also be presenting to all staff members during the early release portion of the day. She will be presenting skills in a similar manner at both presentations so that we can continue to support students with consistency in skills and language between school and home. 

Civil Rights Self-Evaluation Committee

Many thanks for all of you that reached out with interest in the Civil Rights Self-Evaluation Committee. The first meeting was this week and I am excited for the work that will be coming as a result of this group. 

Best wishes for a restful and rejuvenating December break,

Mary Bruhl 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Fall Fun

Fall has snuck up on us all and the year has started in full force. It has been great to have the students back and the buildings filled. While I enjoyed the summer, there is something to be said about the start of the school year and the excitement of having everyone back together for the greater purpose of learning and growing.

Focus Groups:

Thank you to all that provided feedback on the special education department via in person focus groups or by emailing Dr. Martes. We will be analyzing the input to collect themes and trends that will help lead the department moving forward. As information is known, I will make it available through this blog or in person at SEPAC meetings.

Civil Rights: 

Last year the district instituted a new procedure for its Civil Right Self-Assessment. A committee of 17 individuals worked diligently over the period of 5 months to collect and analyze data that would help to inform an action plan. Moving forward, this self-assessment will start in November of each school year. I do hope to have a varied committee with staff, administrators and family members/guardians. If you are interested in this work, please email me at mbruhl@email.medfield.net. It may not be possible to involve all those that are interested but I will communicate with each person either way.


The next SEPAC meeting will be on 10/15 at 7pm at the Blake LMC. They will welcome ACCEPT's Transportation Manager, Dalexis Valdez, for a question and answer session. Here is a link to the Google transportation survey where you can submit questions in advance. 

On October 30, Millis, Medway and Medfield Public Schools will be offering a joint session on Basic Rights in Special Education for all three districts. This will be Millis High School (245 Plain Street, Millis) at 6:30pm.

Enjoy these crisp, cool days of Fall,

Mary Bruhl

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Beginning of the year logistics

Welcome back!

Welcome back to school! I hope that you all had a wonderful summer and had time together as a family and with friends. It was a busy summer for the Department of Student Services but I still had some meaningful time with my family. 

Staff Changes

There have been a few changes to update you on in regards to staffing within the department. 

Bridget Ryan has been hired as the learning center teacher at the high school and will be focused at the 10th grade level. Bridget formerly worked in the East Bridgewater Public Schools. 

Krystal Ortiz is the new secretary for the Department of Student Services, replacing Andrea Moores who has moved into a new role. Her email is kortiz@email.medfield.net.

Karey Curley has moved into the Secondary Special Education Coordinator position. We are currently finishing up the hiring to replace Karey as the Special Education Team Chair for grades 7-12. 

Professional Development

A number of Medfield Public School staff members completed a full day of professional development with international trainer, Catherine Wilson, to support the co-teaching practice in the district. It was a great day that provided a significant amount of information and techniques to support this endeavor. I was so excited to see the commitment and energy that staff showed and look forward to continued work in this area. 

Meet and Greets

The special education department will be hosting meet and greets at each school on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at each building. Please come and meet the staff within the department at each building and take the updated information sheets related to each building. I will be updating these on the website as well within the next week.

Medfield High School:  11:00-11:30
Blake Middle School:  11:45-12:15
Wheelock:  1:00-1:30
Memorial/Preschool:  1:45-2:15
Dale:  2:30-3:00

All sessions will be in the library at each building. 

New Blog

As I mentioned in my last blog post, this will be the new site for the Student Services' Blog as this allows me to provide for translation. I am still working out the logistics for this but will hopefully have the translation option added by the end of the week.

Enjoy the final days of summer,

Mary Bruhl