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Winter 2016 Newsletter
In This Issue
Save the Dates

January 31

Ivy Street Hawks Basketball Special Olympics MA Tournament
at Tufts University

February 3


Family Advisory
Committee Meeting 

Parent Support Group

February 15

President's Day

No School

March 2


Family Advisory
Committee Meeting  

Parent Support Group

April 6


Family Advisory
Committee Meeting 

Parent Support Group

April 18

Patriot's Day

No School

May 4


Family Advisory
Committee Meeting  

Parent Support Group

May 30

Memorial Day

No School

June 1

Family Advisory
Committee Meeting   

Parent Support Group

June 8


June 9

Berklee Performance Center

June 15


Winter Groups and Electives

At Ivy Street School,
students get the opportunity to participate in a variety of fun, engaging activities that match their personal interests. Here are just some of these groups and activities occurring now:


Music Therapy
with Ken DoRosario



Ice Skating

Gospel Singing

(adaptive sports)

Photography Class
with Darlene DeVita

(Krumping & Girls' Hip Hop)

Nail Art


Brookline Public Library

  Returning in the Spring:

Equine Therapy at
Rock Climbing at
Boston University FitRec Center

Theater Group at
Wheelock College

We are always looking to  
create more opportunities for innovative, exciting activities  
for our students.

If you have an idea for future activities please contact our Activities Director
Anastasia Kanistras.


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Ivy Street School!

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Unveiling the Newly Renovated
Solarium and Library   

Meghan Tarella officially cuts the ribbon the
renovated Library and Solarium
Ivy Street School recently hosted a ribbon-cutting event to unveil our newly renovated Solarium and Library, a cornerstone of our Literacy Initiative. The result of a successful $300,000 fundraising campaign, this new space will enhance the learning experience for our students, offering both traditional resources and adaptive technology.

Beyond aesthetics, the Solarium and refurbished Library are central to our Literacy Initiative and will enhance our curriculum moving forward. The new Library blends traditional resources with current technologies to accommodate our students' unique needs through individualized, multi-pronged, and multi-sensory instruction and support.

In addition to this newly renovated space, the Ivy Street School Literacy Initiative includes access to adaptive tools, the latest technology, and highly-trained staff, such as our Certified Reading Specialist, Linda Yee.

Linda works one-on-one with each student to provide literacy intervention tailored to his or her specific needs, integrating assistive technology to help support students who struggle with reading and written expression.

The Ribbon-Cutting event and launch of our Literacy Initiative was featured in the Brookline Tab.
Launching Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) 
Ivy Street School has officially rolled out a new school-wide system of Applied Behavior Analysis called Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, or PBIS, which uses data to track behaviors and interventions to consistently ensure that our students are making progress towards their goals.
This data-driven approach allows us to track not only each individual student's progress, but the school as a whole. This data then informs our programming as a school, allowing us to pinpoint where adjustments need to be made and continuing to increase our effectiveness, leading to improved results for our students.

Recognizing and reinforcing expected behavior is key to this system. Students clearly understand their behavior expectations, and abiding by them earns the student punches on a punch card, which in turn allow them to earn "Ivy bucks."

A student purchases items at the School Store
A student purchases items at the School Store
These can be redeemed for rewards at the newly-revamped School Store, which includes physical items as well as activities that reinforce positive social interactions, such as playing games, having lunch, or going on a field trip with a friend or preferred staff member. 
With this new system in place, Ivy Street School will be able to better collect data, observe, and act upon it. By measuring behaviors and interventions and adjusting as needed, we can further enhance the ways in which we provide each student with the individualized support they need to successfully transition to adulthood.

Learn more about PBIS at Ivy Street School and view our new PBIS brochure here. 
Staff Profile: 

Shawna Boesch,
Vocational Coordinator 

Shawna Boesch
Shawna Boesch
Shawna Boesch was pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience at Simmons College when she took an internship at Ivy Street School, assisting a classroom with tasks such as curriculum development, grading, and behavior management.

Originally intending to use her Neuroscience degree in a lab setting, Shawna fell in love with Ivy Street School, and after graduating in 2013 took a position here as a Vocational Counselor. In that role, she provided job coaching for students both in the building and out in the community. Shawna's drive and passion for helping students succeed resulted in her being named Vocational Coordinator a year later.

Since arriving, Shawna has worked to bring about great advancements in the Vocational Program. Now, more students than ever are competitively employed in the community, holding positions that they can retain even after leaving the school ( formerly, most student positions were temporary internships), as well as developing the skills necessary to continue to succeed in the workforce.

"Our students are more successful than ever before," Shawna says.

Shawna attributes the Vocational Program's current success to a shift to a more student-driven model. Students are given the agency to seek out and apply for positions on their own, using the help of staff as needed for any phase of the job search process. A Vocational Program staff member also accompanies them to interviews, providing assistance or advocacy as necessary.

Once hired, the student may be assisted by a job coach, or they may work independently. Currently two-thirds of the students employed do so independently, including managing their own transportation and schedule as well as self-advocating for needs or accommodations.

A student working in the PaneraCares program
A student learning real-world vocational skills
in the Panera Cares program

Shawna works to ensure that students find employment that not only allows them to develop their skills, but matches their interests. One student loves working with animals, so Shawna and the Vocational Program helped her secure a position at River Dog, a doggie daycare. Another student has shone in Ivy Street's Culinary Program, which, combined with his experience working at Panera Cares, allowed him to acquire a position at Panera Bread.

"It's all about their interests," says Shawna. "Finding what motivates them and running with it."

On-campus, student-run businesses such as Nice Notes, Coffee Shop, and the soon-to-be-launched afternoon Coffee Shop allow students to develop vocational skills in the school setting to prepare themselves for community employment.

As the Vocational Coordinator, Shawna is also a member of the Transition Team, in which Vocational and Occupational Therapy staff work together to help students prepare for a smooth transition to adult services or independent living. This includes running a weekly transition group for older students, in which they explore the community for resources they can use after transition and create processes for reaching their individual goals.

What Shawna loves most about working at Ivy Street School?

"The flexibility, the creativity," she says. "We have an extremely strong and talented team and we work well together.

"The best part, though," she adds, "is seeing the genuine smiles on student's faces when they succeed."