NHS Programs

Needham High School
Special Education Programs and Personnel 

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 currently are serviced through an IEP. 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: 
Grade 9 and 10
David O’Neil (808)
Joshua Keehn (411) also 9IP Special Educator 
Jeanette Word (710) also 9IP Special Educator 
Kaitlin O’Malley (411) co-teaching Physics and Biology
Michelle Kelly (810) 9th, 10th, and 11th  grade Language Based
Danielle Shapiro (910) co-teaching Integrated Math 9 
Rob Super (902) also in Connections 
Grades 11 and 12 Skills 
Ruthie O’Shea (450) 
Sherene Michlin (450) co-teaching English 10
Lizzie Cushing (413A) co-teaching Algebra 2 
Jamie Usher (413B) co-teaching World History 9 
Jessica Davis (910) teaching Foundations of Math, grades 9 -12 

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) 

Functional Academic & 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 which 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 - Ilene Asarch (502)
Program Specialist - Rita Palestro
Occupational Therapist - Bryce Worthy  (502)
Teaching Assistants - Sarah Shapiro, Stuart Slawsby
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. A special educator, clinician, 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) 
Ali Collins  (805) 
Bobby Hermesch (805) 
Arielle Mossberg  (803) 
Teaching Assistants
Joanna Herrera

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 in 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) 

Support Services Special Educator and Coach 
This is a new position for this school year to provide additional support to students, given the academic loss  due to 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) also co-teaching Geometry 10 

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 - Leslie Boisvert (801)
Team Chairperson/ School Psychologist - Weslie Surman (801)
School Psychologist - Kali D’ Anna (801) 

Special Education Director - Needham High School 
Tricia Mullen (801) 
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