NHS Programs

Needham High School
Special Education Programs and Personnel 

Special Education Director: Patricia Mullen 

Special Education Department Secretary: Kyle DaLuz 

Special Education Suite: Room 801 

(781) 455-0800 Ext. 22770


The Personalized Learning Center (PLC) is a general education class at Needham High School that strives to improve student academic performance by building strong organizational and study skills.

The PLC serves students with or without a diagnosed disability, on a 504 or not, who are struggling to achieve in their academic classes. These are students who require academic support in a structured environment in order to improve their organizational skills, study skills, and/or their self-advocacy skills. Students in PLC are general education students. Students must be referred through the SST process to be considered for PLC.

Special Educators: 

  • Casey Palmer (706A)
  • Bob McInnis (706B)


The grade level Skills Centers provide academic support for students on IEPs who are in general education classes at the standard, honors or accelerated level.  The goal of the Skills Center is to lead students towards independent learning and self- advocacy through the direct teaching of skills in accordance with the student’s IEP. Each student is taught how to learn and how to use their strengths to compensate for individual areas of difficulty.

The Skills Center is designed to work with students with diagnosed disabilities who are serviced through an IEP (Individualized Education Program). Students who attend the Skills Center require specialized instruction from a special educator in order to make progress in the general education curriculum. 

Special Educators

Co-Taught Classes 

David O’Neill (808) grades 9 and 10

Joshua Keehn (411) grades 9 and 10

English 10

Jeanette Word (710) grades 9 and 10 

English 9

Kaitlin O’Malley (411) grade 10

Biology 9 and Physics 10

Kitty Maffei (608) grade 9

English 11

Michelle Kelly (810) grades 10, 11, and 12

Danielle Shapiro (910) grades 9 and 10

Integrated Math 9

Ruthie O’Shea (450) grades 11 and 12

Integrated Math 10

Sherene Michlin (450) grades 11 and 12

English 12

Lizzie Cushing (413A)  grades 11 and 12

Algebra 2

Lauren Tarlow (750) grade 11

Abby Berry (413B) grades 11 and 12

World History 9

Robert Super (902) grade 11

World and American History 10

Jessica Davis (910) grade 12

Foundations of Math, Grades 9 -12 

Special Educators working with the Interdisciplinary Program (IP): 

  • Grade 9IP: Jeanette Word 
  • Grade 10IP: Jessica Davis and Sherene Michlin
  • Teaching Assistant: Christine Butchart 


Insight is a program designed for students who require support in the area of social thinking, social pragmatics and executive functioning skills.  Students are enrolled in general education classes at the standard, honors or accelerated level and also have a specially designed Skills Center.  This Skills Center provides academic support as well as direct teaching of social pragmatic skills. The special educator provides support for developing organizational strategies, previewing/ reviewing concepts, and breaking down assignments.  In addition, the Speech and Language Pathologist provides individual and group lessons to the students as well as program consultation.  A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) also provides consultation and support to the program.   

Insight is designed for students with social communication deficits and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder that directly affects their ability to access the high school curriculum and participation in extracurricular activities. Students in the Insight Program have diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Nonverbal Learning Disability, and/ or Social Communication Disorder. These students have cognitive abilities that range from average to superior but have social pragmatic and/or executive function skills that are below grade-level expectations.  

  • Special Educator - Lauren Tarlow (750)
  • Clinician affiliated with Insight - Heather Harris (403)
  • SLP affiliated with Insight  -Rebecca Mahoney (802A)
  •  BCBA affiliated with Insight - Brian Ziman (802B) 

 ILC (Independent Learning Center) & Post Grad Program 

Skills and Post Grad provides intensive, highly individualized functional academic, pre-vocational and vocational training so that students continue to develop to their fullest potential and prepare for adulthood. The program supports students from 9th grade up until their 22nd birthday. Due to the unique nature of their needs, these students require a highly structured, low stimulation environment with clear, consistent routines and specially designed instruction. Student to staff ratios are low to ensure student safety and educational success. The program provides a continuum of classroom and community based services designed to foster the development of functional academics, social pragmatic language, independent living skills and career development. 

Skills and Post Grad students have disabilities that include but are not limited to expressive and receptive language processing disorders, intellectual impairments, autistic spectrum disorders, neurological impairments, and attention difficulties that significantly impact their overall functioning.  Students in the Skills and Post Grad Program will participate in state-mandated testing through an alternate assessment and will earn a certificate of attendance. 

  • Transition Specialist/ Special Educator in PG  - Ilene Asarch (502B)
  • Special Educator in PG - Meg Hennessey (502B)

  • Special Educator in ILC - Allan Sobon (502A) 
  • Occupational Therapist - Bryce Worthy (502)

  • Teaching Assistants -  Stuart Slawsby and Deana Moreschi 
  • BCBA affiliated with PG - Brian Ziman 


Connections is a therapeutic program developed to meet the needs of students with emotional disabilities.  Students in the Connections Program attend classes in the general education curriculum at the standard, honors, or accelerated level. Students also spend one to two periods a day in the Connections Program providing them with a safe, structured, and nurturing environment that facilitates academic and social/emotional growth. Special educators, clinicians, and trained teaching assistants work together to meet the needs of the student. Students also participate in both individual and group counseling within the program. 

Students in Connections have a diagnosed emotional disability and have an IEP.  They are dealing with a range of mental health issues including but not limited to anxiety, depression, adjustment disorder and bipolar disorder.  This program is recommended through the IEP team. 

Special Educators

  • Katie Brady (805)
  •  Kate McMahon (805) 


  • Bobby Hermesch (805) 
  • Arielle Mossberg  (803) 

Teaching Assistants

  • Sarah Shapiro 


Pathways is a sub-separate program located within Needham High School providing students in Grades 9-12 with an academic curriculum aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and high level of therapeutic support. 

Pathways is designed for students with significant emotional and psychosocial challenges who necessitate a small structured educational setting with a high staff to student ratio. The program provides students with a highly structured therapeutic milieu in order to help students to make positive choices, build self-esteem, engage in the learning process, and build a transition plan for the future. The Pathways team consists of a special educator and a clinician.  

Students in the Pathways Program have diagnosed emotional disabilities that impact their access to the curriculum. These students are serviced through an Individual Education Program and have been found to need more intensive services than can be provided in the general education classes at Needham High School. 

Special Educator- Ed Fortier (803) 

Clinician - Arielle Mossberg (803) 


Transitions is a short-term program that supports the needs of students re-entering high school from a lengthy absence. Entrance into Transitions begins with a re-entry meeting during which an individual plan is designed to include communication with classroom teachers, making up work for return to classes from the student’s original schedule or possibly a changed schedule. Transitions is staffed by a Special Educator who liaisons with the general education teachers. It is also supported by a clinician who provides direct counseling and liaisons with inpatient and day treatment facilities. 

Transition is available to any student who is out of school for 5 or more days, who needs a quiet setting to catch up on work and support to integrate back to the program they were attending prior to the absence. Students returning to school after a psychiatric hospitalization or who are struggling to attend and/or succeed in school due to a variety of psychological or psychosocial difficulties (including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.) are provided counseling and academic support and are closely monitored in order to tailor supports and services based on individual needs.  

Special Educator -Marina Moloney (753B)

Clinician - Michelle Brenhiser (Guidance Suite) 

Inclusive Practices Coach  

This position is a .5 position for this school year and is designed to provide additional support to students, given the academic loss due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic. 

Direct  1:1 or small group services with students needing remediation due to the pandemic

In-class coaching and co-teaching to assist in classes with struggling students

Consultation with teachers to assist  with the ongoing implementation of a MTSS system at the high school 

*MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Support)  is not a new initiative. MTSS is a way to organize good teaching practices, our initiatives, our current supports into a well- articulated system of supports 

Special Educator-  Kitty Maffei (608) 

Other Special Education Personnel: 

Special Education Reading Teacher - Jennie Renna (710) 

BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst)- Brian Ziman (802B) 

Speech and Language Pathologist - Rebecca Mahoney (802A)

Occupational Therapist - Bryce Worthy (502) 

Special Education Chairpersons/ Evaluators:

Team Chairperson - TBA  (801)

Team Chairperson/ School Psychologist - Weslie Surman (801)

School Psychologist - Kali D’Anna (801) 

School Psychologist .4  - TBA (801)

Teaching Assistants: 

Christine Butchart - IP 

Matt Atkinson - Inclusion 

Julie Goodale - Inclusion 

Evan Schaefer - Inclusion 

Sam Boardman - Inclusion/ Skills Coverage   

Joanne Sullivan - Inclusion 

Geoff Copley -Inclusion 

Rita Palestro - Inclusion 

Kyle Adams - Inclusion 

Isabelle Bruneau - Inclusion 

Stuart Slawsby - PG 

Deana Moreschi - PG 

Sarah Shapiro - Connections 

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