General Brown engaged in SUNY Albany project to further inclusion efforts

  • A team of General Brown CSD staff members are fully immersed in a project with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at SUNY Albany that will bolster inclusion efforts in the district and give teachers a strategic approach to challenging student behaviors.

    General Brown CSD applied to be part of the university’s school consultation project last spring and was among six school districts selected from about 80 applicants. Funding for the program comes from a New York State Education Department grant.

    “The large pool of applicants from which General Brown was chosen shows how important this kind of work is in our schools,” Superintendent Barbara J. Case said. “Moving forward with this project in partnership with SUNY, even in this unconventional year, speaks to the level of dedication our staff has to furthering our growth in this area, so all General Brown students can achieve their best academic outcomes and feel a part of the General Brown School community.”

    The main goal of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) project is to provide training, resources, and support to school professionals to build their capacity to work with children with autism spectrum disorders. 

    Missie Nabinger, the district’s former director of Student Services who now serves as the principal of Brownville-Glen Park Elementary, spearheaded applying to the program and is leading GB’s efforts in the project. The goals of the project are two-fold, she said. “It really helps to learn how to collect data on challenging behaviors so we can come up with specific strategies and solutions to support students and teachers,” Nabinger said. “We also hope that as our Autism Resource Team completes the program and more teachers are trained, some of those students who attend out-of-district special education programs can return to General Brown.”

    Kate Beattie, who took the reins of Student Services last month, agrees and emphasized the long-term benefits of this training. “This is an exciting opportunity for our teachers and students to work directly with trainers from the CARD on a process that will be sustainable moving forward. The district team receiving the training will be able to apply this process of data collection and plan development going forward,” Beattie said.

    The work with CARD spans over five virtual sessions this winter and spring. A core team consisting of two administrators, special and general education teachers, a school psychologist, a social worker and a physical therapist have virtually attended the first two sessions with the experts at CARD. In addition, with parent permission and cooperation, upcoming sessions will bring in additional team members who work with two General Brown students selected for the project.

     “The CARD team is leading us through the process, and we will finish with a plan that we can implement for specific students this school year,” Beattie said. “While the focus of the initial training is students with autism spectrum disorder, this type of systematic process can be adjusted and applied to any student with challenging behaviors.”

    Nabinger added that the “Positive Behavior Support Model” that CARD teaches ties in perfectly with the district’s PBIS program that focuses on praising positive behavior. “I think it’s going to give our teachers some great ideas and strategies that will ultimately lead to less time and energy spent managing challenging behaviors in the classroom,” she said.