This summer Andrea Einhorn began her job as the Director of Pupil Personnel Services (PPS), charged with running the Special Education Program for the entire New Fairfield School District.
Mrs. Einhorn comes to the job after an illustrious career in special education teaching and administration. Prior to joining this District, she most recently served as Assistant Director of Special Education and earlier as the Instructional Leader of Special Education in Monroe, CT. Prior positions include Director of Curriculum/Assistant Director for Special Education for Region 16 and as Principal of the Capitol Region Education Council’s The Charter School for Young Children on Asylum Hill, Hartford. She was also Principal for an elementary school in East Hartford, an Assistant Principal for Tolland Middle School and Adjunct Instructor at Central Connecticut State University.
All this experience will help her assure that the approximately 250 special education students will receive the best education possible. Mrs. Einhorn and a staff of about 100, including teachers, para-professionals, school nurses and other professionals will work as a team to make this happen.
Parent participation is also crucial. In a letter to parents, the Danbury native noted that it is her “intent to work together to ensure that we are meeting the educational needs of all the students in our District.” Mrs. Einhorn has an open-door policy and invites anyone with issues or concerns to contact her in the Pupil Services Office in the High School.
“I am excited by this opportunity to join the District and get to know the families and the community,” Mrs. Einhorn said. “It seemed that there was a need for increasing communication with the community and better visibility of the Pupil Personnel Services Director; those are the things I value and so I thought that it would be a good match,” she explained.
Mrs. Einhorn has already met with many parents and students, and will hold another drop-in meeting on September 26 from 3 to 4 p.m. All interested parents and students are invited to attend.
“I’ve met with many parents and students who have been really generous with their time and discussed their concerns and ways they think the department can grow, as well as what services they would like to be brought to their children,” said Mrs. Einhorn.
Some of these suggestions are already in the development process. Mrs. Einhorn and her staff are starting the Unified Sports Program for basketball season, which will be open to students in grades 6-12. The program will pair students with disabilities with typical peers who will play together as a team against other towns.
A Buddies Program, also for grades 6-12 at this time, will soon be held after school and encourage partnerships that focus on participation in social events, school sporting events and other community activities. “We are starting small to make it successful, then we will expand the program scope and age groups,” noted Mrs. Einhorn. She indicated that many teachers, coaches and students are already interested in participating in these programs.
In the near future the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Department will also develop a Life Skills Program that will provide vocational activities for daily living, academic and social skills. PPS will hire a teacher to head the program starting in October.
“We will be looking at our continuum of services and make sure it is structured and in the best interest of the students in order to meet the needs of all students,” Mrs. Einhorn said. Also joining her in this process is the new PPS Supervisor of Special Education Dean Catalano.
Mr. Catalano, in his role as PPS Supervisor, will support the department by monitoring, evaluating and bolstering special education programming. With Mrs. Einhorn, he will supervise and support all PPS staff and collaborate with all parties during Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meetings to develop appropriate, student-centered educational programs. Mr. Catalano will also monitor Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for statutory compliance and help develop inclusive extracurricular programs and activities for students with disabilities.
“I look forward to serving this community and promoting the educational success of our students,” Mr. Catalano said, noting that he is thankful for the warm welcome he received from staff, students and families. Mr. Catalano previously served as School Psychologist for New Haven and Madison Public Schools. He earned both a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s of School Psychology from Marist College.
Under Mrs. Einhorn’s guidance, the PPS Department will continue the important job of overseeing the Planning and Placement Teams which create annual plans for special education students and meet several times a year regarding those plans to make sure services are being provided, progress is being made and revise as necessary. “This involves a lot of supervision and evaluation of teachers and staff, program planning and oversight from me,” explained Mrs. Einhorn. “I enjoy this work because I always loved working with both children and adults, I get to do a lot of creative problem solving, and I want to see that all students are given the opportunity to be as successful as possible,” she added.
Mrs. Einhorn, a mother of four, resides in Bethel with her husband Tom (principal of Newtown Middle School) and their youngest child. She earned a Bachelor’s in Special Education and a Master’s in Learning Disabilities, as well as a Sixth Year Professional Diploma in Educational Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University, and holds Professional Educator-Special Education and Intermediate Administrative certifications.
By J.U. Azzi