Special to the Independent
After an unpredictable year characterized by altered routines and disrupted schedules, the Everett Public Schools this month is enjoying the return of a time-tested part of its yearly calendar: The Extended School Year (ESY) Program overseen by the district’s Special Education Department.
“A big shout-out to Special Education administrators Shareen Mustafa and Ashley Lambresa and our dedicated team of teachers, specialists, and paraprofessionals for planning and implementing the essential ESY services outlined in students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs),” said Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani. “This program is so important to so many of our students on a yearly basis, and all the more so following the events of 2020-2021.”
This summer, the EPS is offering ESY classes at the Lafayette School, the Webster School, and Everett High. K-8 students are enrolled at the Lafayette, and the Webster is home to the Integrated Learning ESY Program for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Everett High hosts EASELS, which stands for Everett Academy of Students’ Enrichment for Life Skills.
Like all summer programming being offered this year, an emphasis is being placed on reconnection among students and teachers, social interaction, and refamiliarization with classroom routines — in addition to the critical services and social and emotional learning that the ESY program provides to students.
Students enrolled in the ESY program are also enjoying the enrichment camps we are offering to all students, including sports and fitness camps, game and book clubs, music and band camps, and art classes.
“It is a relief and a joy to see our special education students reunited with our teachers and staff,” said School Committee member Samantha Lambert. “ESY is all about interaction and growth, and I know I speak for my colleagues when I say how grateful we are to resume our usual summer programming for our students and families.”
The largest of Everett’s three ESY programs is offered at the Lafayette, where 75 students in kindergarten through eighth grade are in school from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Students receive speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy in small-group and individual sessions. Students work to meet the targeted goals outlined in their IEPs, as well as those detailed in their fourth-quarter progress reports. Teachers and students are working hard to reinforce concepts introduced at the end of the school year.
At the Webster, an average of 65 students per day are attending the Integrated Learning Program. The youngest students are developing independence within school routines, as well as building their academic readiness skills. Older students are focusing on maintenance of their academic and social skills. Speech and language therapy and occupational therapy group sessions are offered, while a physical therapist and physical education teacher are co-directing a gym class. Webster students are engaging with their peers in the classroom, at lunch, and during recess. They are also enjoying crafts projects and singing and dancing. High school students enrolled in the EASELS program receive speech and language, occupational, and physical therapy services. Academically, they work to meet the objectives outlined in their IEPs and their fourth-quarter progress reports. Educators and staff also help the students build skills that positively promote independent daily living.