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District welcomes CSE Chairperson to staff

February 23, 2015

Jessica SpellburgIn January, the South Glens Falls Central School District welcomed Jessica Spellburg to the staff. Spellburg will serve as the Committee on Special Education (CSE) Chairperson for the district, which is a new position that was created to better serve the diverse population of students our district serves.

“I was drawn to this position because it gave me the opportunity to blend my special education background with my new path into administration,” Spellburg said. “I am excited to work with the professionals in SGF as I have only heard positive things about their leadership and visions.”

The CSE Chairperson is responsible for day-to-day management and CSE functions, including oversight and monitoring of subcommittee activities, and coordinates all meetings and student evaluations. Spellburg will also assist parents through regular communication and encouragement.

In addition, she will ensure that the district is following all appropriate legal processes in determining appropriate programming for children with disabilities, arrange approved services for in- and out-of-district students age 3 to 21, and be a liaison with community and special education service groups.

Spellburg will also play an important role with district staff, meeting regularly with our special education support services staff, which includes psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech therapists, as well as district special education teachers, to provide direction and support.

“Over the past several years, the district has seen an increase in the amount of special education services that are required to meet our students’ needs,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Patton. “South Glens Falls has a student population of 427 students, or 13 percent, that have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), which require direct educational programming and services. We are very fortunate to have Mrs. Spellburg’s experience as a special education teacher and CSE chair to help better serve our students and their families as they progress through their education.”

The CSE chairperson will work in conjunction with the director of special education, Kathleen Kieffer. In the past, Kieffer has handled the entire process—in addition to the duties of the CSE chairperson, the director of special education has budgetary oversight, and responsibility for direct staff supervision and overall development of special education programming.

“Adding Jessica to our special education staff will be an enormous benefit to our staff and parents,” said Kieffer. “They will be able to receive the support they need in a timely and thorough manner.”

The creation of Spellburg’s position will allow Kieffer to be more involved in the classroom, which will help establish a better program. She will be able to provide more direct classroom support for staff, offer trainings herself for district staff and in turn improve the overall special education experience for students in South Glens Falls.

Spellburg has been a special education professional for nearly 15 years, first as a teacher in the Argyle Central School District, and later as a teacher in the Glens Falls City Schools. In Glens Falls, she was most recently the dean of students, and assumed the role of CSE chairperson for a leave of absence.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Russell Sage College, a Master of Science in Reading and Special Education from the Sage Graduate School, and is expected to complete her Master of Science in School Building Leadership from SUNY Plattsburgh in June 2016.

Spellburg has several certifications as well, including a National Board Certification as Exceptional Need Specialist (K-12). National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state licensure. Teachers are certified after they complete an extensive and rigorous process.

“In South Glens Falls, I am looking forward to defining the role of CSE chairperson in a way that best supports the needs of students, parents and staff,” Spellburg said. “I look forward to the collaborative process.”

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