LEARN Expands its Student Support Services Division, Increasing Special Education Offerings

LEARN Expands its Student Support Services Division, Increasing Special Education Offerings
Posted on 08/03/2017
Sarah Moon and Erica Page

LEARN is expanding and enhancing its Student Support Services (SSS) division in response to the increased demands to support school districts and families of children with highly specialized educational and behavioral needs. 

In the last four years, LEARN – the Regional Educational Service Center (RESC) for Southeastern Connecticut – worked collaboratively with member districts to design high quality outplacement programming for students with intensive developmental and behavioral challenges. The LEARN Executive Committee has taken another step forward by hiring two new assistant directors – Sarah Moon and Erica Page - who will help lead and support the expansion of LEARN programs and services.

Moon, of Mystic, serves as Related Services Coordinator. She is experienced in the field of Special Education as both a speech language pathologist and a trainer for educators. She serves as the school practicum coordinator at Southern Connecticut State University, where she also earned a Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders.

 Page, of Niantic, was previously a Student Support Services Coordinator for LEARN. She taught Special Education in New York as well as at LEARN’s Regional Multicultural Magnet School (RMMS) in New London. Page holds a Master’s Degree in in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Inclusive Education, both from Syracuse University. Both Moon and Page are completing their sixth year degrees at Central Connecticut State University.

 “Sarah Moon and Erica Page have been instrumental in redesigning our outplacement programs, delivery of related services, and development of a diagnostic and wellness center for our region’s students,” said LEARN Executive Director Dr. Eileen Howley. “By creating these two new leadership positions, the LEARN Executive Committee has taken another step in advancing regional programming for students with special needs.”

 The promotions mark another milestone for LEARN and the quality it delivers to students and families with specialized needs. Student Support Services provides customized programming and consultative services to member districts, for students pre-kindergarten aged through 21. Such services include occupational, physical, and speech and language therapy, behavioral analysis, social work, psychology, and psychiatry. LEARN provides highly specialized programming for students with autism and developmental disabilities, as well as students with social emotional and behavioral needs. The agency also supports a Diagnostic and Wellness Center created to meet regional demand and designed to provide comprehensive evaluations for students with behavior and social emotional challenges and make recommendations to school districts on how to support students’ special learning needs. 

 LEARN’s Student Support Services team recently piloted a successful program to help students with school avoidance issues - difficulties within the classroom or school setting that discourage students to the point where they avoid attending school. Working together with other RESCs across the state, LEARN is eager to implement and support the program.

 The demand for specialized programming continues to grow in the region. This year, LEARN successfully served 53 students with varying levels of educational challenges in its out placement programs and had more interest than could be accommodated.

“The staff of LEARN treats every student with respect and helps encourage success by modeling the correct behaviors and talking students through difficulties and teaching them new strategies,” said parent Stephanie Johnson of East Lyme. “I was informed of things on a daily basis by the head teacher and we were able to develop a multi-pronged approach to address issues as they appeared. Today my son is preparing to enter college. We could not have done this without the help of the caring staff at LEARN. They saw his potential and encouraged him to pursue his dreams. We will forever be grateful and proud to be a member of the LEARN family.”  

 The next step in LEARN’s commitment to providing high quality, specialized programming in the region is to centralize outplacement programs in its own facilities. The Ocean Avenue Learning Academy and Center of Excellence is projected to open in the fall of 2018. The LEARN Board of Directors has authorized moving ahead with the purchase and conversion of the Beth El Synagogue in New London into a state-of-the-art facility for students with special needs and their families. The regionalization and consolidation of services and programs in this location will allow LEARN to create greater continuity and consistency of services for students and afford districts improved access to cost-effective specialized programming.

 “Owning and managing our facility will enhance program flexibility and governance, create economies of scale, and significantly strengthen supervision and support of staff in ways that will benefit both students and our member districts,” said Bridgette Gordon-Hickey, Student Support Services Director.


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