Oliver Ames High School
Special Education


Classroom Teacher: Peggy Wentworth 

The Foundations Program was created to address the unique needs of students whose needs could not be met through academic support services. Foundations includes students with a variety of needs, and consequently must be individualized, revamped, reevaluated, and recreated to meet the individual needs of a diverse student population. We recognize that education reaches far beyond the perimeters of school walls and believe that every student deserves a future with a purpose.Foundations’ curriculum is constructed around three basic elements; applied basic academic skills addressing reading, language arts, math and science; transition skills including social skills, time management, decision making, self determination and money management; and pre-vocational skills addressing knowledge of the work world, career possibilities, job acquisition skills, and work behaviors. Other characteristics of the program include individualized direct instruction, inclusion opportunities, school community involvement, ongoing informal assessment, and student community service volunteers. 


Foundations Transition
Classroom Teacher: Colleen Rose

The Foundations Transition Program is a special education program that focuses on preparing students for life after high school. Community based instruction, or educational instruction in naturally occurring community environments, is the primary component of the program.  Community based instruction allows students to practice and generalize their skills, while building relationships with members of their community. Students receive instruction in a variety of areas important to the transition to life after school including: self-advocacy, work readiness and functional academics. Community experiences may include: work experiences, participating in physical fitness at the local YMCA, and participating in programs at Bridgewater State University.

Life Skills 
Classroom Teacher: Rosana De La Torre 

The Life Skills Program is designed to support students with significant disabilities that may include Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Intellectual Disability and/or Neurological Impairment. The curriculum focues on functional academics as well as social, vocational and daily living skills utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach to enhance communication, independence, and socialization. Visual supports and augmentative communication are used throughout the classroom to assist students understanding of classroom activities, schedules and rules.Emphasis on behavioral based methodologies (i.e. discrete trial, task analysis, etc…) is an important component of the program. Low student to teacher ratio maximizes the learning of new skills and reinforces appropriate behaviors. Students are integrated into the general education setting on an individual basis as determined by the Team. A district behavioral specialist (BCBA), Occupational Therapist, and Speech and Language Pathologist consults to the program regularly. 

Language Based Classes- Math and English
Classroom Teachers-
Grade 9 English & Math: Leanne Fleming
Grade 10 English: Elizabeth Starr
Grade 10 Math: Tara Bailey
Grade 11 English: Kate Walsh
Grade 11 Math: Jenna Olem
Grade 12 English: Barbara Ratcliffe
Grade 12 Math: Kate Walsh

This program is designed for students who have been determined by the Team as meeting the eligibility criteria for a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) and evidence of a Language Based Learning Disability. The Language-Based Programs are designed to meet the needs of those students whose language processing deficits are impeding their academic achievement. The Language Based Program is for grades 9-12 and the curriculum is aligned with the state standards for each section taught by a special education teacher. The purpose is to support students with language based instruction explicitly building skills in the four overlapping areas of language: listening, speaking, reading and writing. 

Academic Support Classes
Grade 9: Kate Walsh & Leanne Fleming

Grade 10: Elizabeth Starr
Grade 11: Jenna Olem
Grade 12: Barbara Ratcliffe
Math Based Academic Support Grades 9-12: Tara Bailey

The Academic Support classroom offers support to special education students (students on an Individual Education Plan), who have been identified with low to moderate levels of need and require specific accommodations in order to make effective progress accessing the grade level curriculum. The Special Education teachers focus on goals and benchmarks for remediation and educational planning for classroom accommodations. The teachers serve as liaisons to content area teachers to help provide students with opportunities to develop the tools necessary for success at the high school level and beyond by concentrating on organizational and study skills, learning strategies and understanding their personal learning styles.  


Specialized Services 

Speech and Language
Speech Language Pathologist: Ira Kittrell 

The Speech-Language Pathology program provides quality, innovative and effective speech and language diagnostic and therapeutic service to the entire Oliver Ames High School community with primary emphasis on those students with SLP service related issues.  This is accomplished through assessment, direct therapeutic intervention, ongoing staff and guardian consultation, in-service education and community awareness activities. The Speech-Language Pathology program at OAHS is designed to assist students with suspected or diagnosed speech or language difficulties, which may affect their ability to access and participate in the classroom curricula and the social milieu.  This is accomplished through screening, observation and consultation with staff as well as, parents, individual or small group pullout sessions, co-teaching, and push-in programming within the academic or special subject classroom. SLP sessions are designed to assist students in reaching their goals through motivating yet functional activities and discussion. The SLP program assists staff, and when possible, guardians, with answers about general speech or language concerns, or regarding children who may have suspected issues due to any number of environmental or organic factors. A Certified/Registered therapy dog named Otto  is periodically used to assist students in reaching their goals. He is a shih tzu and is as close to hypoallergenic as a dog can be. He only weighs 12.5 pounds and looks like a moving stuffed animal. Otto has worked for over 10 years in schools, camps and hospitals with children and has a great track record of success. Students who may be working directly with Otto will receive a permission slip for completion by their guardian prior to engaging with him during sessions.

Reading Specialist
Reading specialist: Laura Karahalis

As a certified reading specialist, Laura Karahalis provides individualized reading intervention for students at Oliver Ames High School. These interventions include exposure to new strategies and review of existing techniques to support literacy comprehension, phonics, fluency, writing, and vocabulary both in their ELA courses and other disciplines. Interventions combine focused time with individual students and small group instruction to help students develop independence and growth towards their reading goals.

Counseling Support

School Psychologists
School Psychologist Grades 9-11: Shannon Caruso
School Psychologist Grade 12: Tom Petrouski

Dr. Tom Pretrouski and Shannon Caruso are the two School Psychologists and Team Chairpersons. They both provide a range of psychological services to students at Oliver Ames High School. Tom primarily works with 12th graders, as well as students within our specialized programs. Shannon works primarily with 9th-11th graders. The School Psychologist’s role is to help students to transition and adjust to high school life, set goals and transition to life after high school, whether it is vocational or educational, and to cope with their difficult emotions in order to be the best students they can be. Both Tom and Shannon evaluate and help to identify special needs students, coordinate special education services and facilitate Team meetings. They collaborate and consult with teachers, guidance counselors, parents and administrators, helping special education students adapt to the demands of high school, identifying appropriate classroom accommodations, and referring students to outside agencies for additional support if needed.

Adjustment Counselors
Adjustment Counselors: Pamela Healy & Lisa St.Mary

As one of the School Adjustment Counselors, Pamela Healy provides therapeutic intervention for students across regular education and special education programs. Pam has a M.Ed in Counseling/Psychology and has worked with adolescents in both the middle and high school settings. Pam’s background includes a certification in teaching both Yoga and Mindfulness skills as well as counseling students and families in therapeutic educational placements. At Oliver Ames, students receive adjustment counseling services if their social and/or emotional difficulties are significant enough to directly impact their ability to function in the school environment. Students may see Pam by appointment, or seek her out as needed in a psychological crisis. Services include consultation with parents, teachers and other faculty, as well as mental health providers working with the adolescent outside of school. The main goal is always to help students learn how to cope with their difficult emotions in order to be the best students they can be. Some examples of things that students might work on with Pam are: frustration about the learning process, social conflicts, grief and loss, family stressors, and managing the symptoms of anxiety and depression in school.

Lisa St. Mary, our second adjustment counselor, serves as the Clinical Coordinator for the OA Bridge Program. Lisa is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker who specializes in working with students who struggle with school avoidance and attendance. The OA Bridge Program provides both re-entry services for students who experience extended absences from school for medical, mental health, or family related reasons, as well as preventative services for students who are beginning to show signs of school avoidance.  Lisa also provides general adjustment counseling services to a small number of students outside the Bridge Program.