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Update from Clarence CSD March 17, 2023

Dear Clarence School Family,

A few days ago, we shared a brief video from our Unified Bowling Team. For those who might not be familiar with Unified Sports, they join athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. The program is dedicated to promoting inclusion through athletics, and participation is a powerful way of building friendships and understanding. If you have a minute, I would encourage you to check out the video of our student-athletes—I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

While reflecting on experiences that create opportunities for all types of students to learn side-by-side, I thought it might be helpful to talk a bit about the special education programming that exists here in Clarence. At a basic level, we know that many students come to school with educational learning disabilities that might impact their skills related to reading, writing, listening, speaking, or reasoning. When this is the case, members of our Special Education Department step in to develop what are called Individualized Education Plans (IEP). In short, IEPs are written documents that help to record current skill levels, annual goals, and potential accommodations or services that might be appropriate.

For parents or community members who have never heard of IEPs before, they are actually quite common. Between 13-14% of students in Clarence have active IEPs, and they create formal opportunities for teachers, parents, administrators, service providers, and students to collaboratively work together on improving educational outcomes for children with disabilities. While this could involve something as simple as allowing a student to have extra time when completing a test, it might also mean finding a specialized program for a child in a neighboring district. Additionally, if student support services are needed beyond the regular comprehensive educational program, IEPs might also outline needs related to counseling, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech and language services.

Although this process might sound somewhat complex or technical, it is geared toward operationalizing a very simple principle—ensuring that every single child has the support needed to realize their full potential. To continue the conversation related to special education, I have highlighted a couple opportunities below for you to consider:

  • At 6:00 p.m. on Monday, March 20, the Clarence Special Education Parent Teacher Student Association (SEPTSA) will be sponsoring a program titled, “What is Care Coordination?” at the Clarence Public Library (3 Town Place). The presentation is open to any parents or caregivers of school-aged children, and it will focus on care coordination, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) services, as well as information on the referral process.
  • Join us for a Facebook Live panel hosted by our Special Education Department at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. If you save the date, we will provide more detail as we get a bit closer to the virtual event.

2023-2024 Calendar Released

I wanted to let you know that we recently finalized our 2023-2024 school calendar. If you are starting to think about making arrangements for future trips or childcare, you can access the document by clicking this link.

¡Bien Hecho! Gut Gemacht! Aferin! Dobra Robota! Kerja Bagus!

Let me be the first to say well done to Madame Williams and the members of our High School International Club for putting on a delicious “Food Festival” this past week. The event was a success, and a reminder that food has the power to bring people together in so many ways. 

Finally, as I ate my way through the tables of food, I couldn’t help but think about a presentation that Mrs. Arroyo, Mrs. McClaren, and Mrs. Ticco had given at Sheridan Hill on Tuesday afternoon. The session focused on the different ways we support Clarence students for whom English is not their first or primary language, and I thought you might find the following to be of interest:

  • The number of English language learners (ELL) in Clarence has more than tripled over the last ten years
  • At least 41 different languages are spoken by over 220 students across our school community
  • Aside from English, Arabic is the most popular home language spoken here in Clarence

Pretty cool—and a reminder that our learning spaces are enriched each day by the diversity that exists in our corner of the world.

Hoping you had a great St. Patrick’s Day (we certainly did here at school!), that your bracket survives the first weekend of March Madness, and that you enjoy the weekend.

Matt Frahm
Superintendent of Schools

PS: Did you know that Sarah Zulick brought home a Composite Team State Championship with other athletes from Section VI?! Sarah averaged 198 over her six games, and she helped her team win the title by a single point. Great job, Sarah—you make us #ClarenceProud.