Hadley schools reinforce commitment to special education, well-being of students

  • Tammy Seymour, the special education coordinator, poses for a photo in front of Hadley Elementary School on Aug. 9 in Hadley. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker—Andrew J. Whitaker/Gazette Staff

  • Tammy Seymour is special education coordinator for the Hadley public schools. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker

  • Joan Wickman is  interim principal at Hadley Elementary School. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker

Published: 8/16/2016 7:51:36 PM

HADLEY – Hadley Elementary School and Hopkins Academy have long focused on meeting individual needs within education, but this year they will include two new positions which will oversee that continued work.

Former assistant superintendent Patricia Bell will serve in a part-time role as director of special education and Tammy Seymour will work full-time as the special education coordinator, both for the Hadley Public School District.

“Research clearly shows that student outcomes are better for those who’ve had a matching emphasis on academic and behavioral success,” said district superintendent Anne McKenzie. The two hires will work in conjunction to extend and deepen school support for special education needs as well as behavioral and mental health challenges that students may face.

The main goal for Hadley is an education that addresses specific strengths and weaknesses in children. As a part of this mission, the majority of school staff will take part in a two-day mental health and first aid training course prior to the school year’s start. The course will equip them with necessary skills to identify and help someone experiencing an emotional or mental health stress or need. McKenzie said when educators were presented with the opportunity to learn from certified trainers in this way, they clamored to be a part of it.

“They just said ‘yes, yes, yes.’”, said McKenzie of the response. “‘I want to participate in that.’” She said teachers are excited to add mental health skills to their “toolkits.”

The training will complement programs put in place in both schools during the 2014 to 2015 school year, which McKenzie said ensures high quality and effective behavioral interventions where needed at Hadley Elementary School and allows Hopkins Academy students with opportunities to redeem themselves after violating the school’s code of conduct.

New hires 

New interim principal Joan Wickman will lead Hadley Elementary School beginning at the start of the year, bringing with her a background of previous superintendent positions and experience as a special education director. Wickman said she is extraordinarily excited to work for the school.

“Hadley Elementary has a great reputation and the community is very supportive of our educational programs,” Wickman said. “You can just tell when you walk into the building – it is a fun learning environment and has just a wonderful vibe.” She said teachers are already scurrying to prepare their rooms.

Additional staff positions vacant from retirements have been filled. New district hires include Catlin Converse, speech and language pathologist, Amanda Ryan, school psychologist, new Hopkins Academy teachers Evan Bartlett, music teacher, Breanna Lynch, French teacher, Amy Lanham, English teacher and Hadley Elementary Grade 5 teacher, Roselee Conklin. The projective student enrollment from pre-K through Grade 12 is 596 students, which is close to last year’s 617. The school district’s budget is $7,742,216.00, which McKenzie said is consistent with past years.

Sarah Crosby can be reached at scrosby@gazettenet.com.


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