April 2018

Visiting Teachers See American Special Ed at Spaulding

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Photo by Lester Smith

Schoolteachers from China meet a typical sampling of kindergarten students at Spaulding School. The visitors were particularly interested in American methods of teaching special needs students, and later they visited several classrooms to see such methods in action. Clockwise at the lunch table, from front left: Suffield Special Ed Supervisor Dianna Kolodziey, visiting expert Mark Palmieri from the Center for Children with Special Needs, the five visitors, and Helen McCabe, director of health programs at the Yale-China Association.

Five schoolteachers from China came to Suffield to learn about good methods for educating special needs students. The Yale-China Association in New Haven, collaborating with the Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN), in Glastonbury, is undertaking a project to build programs and services for children with autism in China. As described by Suffield School Superintendent Karen Berasi, CCSN had been asked “to provide the delegation with an opportunity to see high-quality programming that encompasses evidence-based, structured Applied Behavioral Analysis programming for students with autism and other complex needs in the public schools.”

Aware that Suffield was known for its exemplary special ed program, leaders of the project escorted the visiting teachers to Spaulding School on March 9. Helped with skilled translation by Dr. Helen McCabe, of Yale-China, and Dr. Mark Palmieri, assistant director of CCSN, they spent the day in discussion with Dr. Dianna Kolodziey, Suffield supervisor of special ed and other Suffield school system personnel as well as in visiting several classrooms. Dr. Berasi had commented, “We want our guests to see in person what can be accomplished with high-quality teachers, motivated administrators, and good staff training and development.” Dr. Kolodziey pointed out to the visitors that the Suffield team, in its successful work here, develops methods that can be put into general use.

At one point, when a small group of typical kindergartners were introduced to the visitors, the Suffield children were taught how to say “hello” in Chinese. It sounded pretty much like “nee hao,” but with a careful inflection of tone.

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