LABBB visits Trombetta's indoor greenhouse
Sharing best practices and promoting inclusive opportunities for students with special needs    
Interim Executive Director's

Dear LABBB Colleagues and Families:

It is a very exciting time at LABBB Educational Collaborative!
First, we have finalized the hiring and contract negotiations with our new Executive Director, Pam Girouard, who will begin her tenure at LABBB on July 1, 2022. Pam currently serves as the Administrator of Special Education with the Winchester Public Schools, a position she has held since 2014. She has also served as Director of Student Services in Rockport, as High School Special Education Department Head in Reading, and as a Speech and Language Pathologist in Reading. Everyone at LABBB is very excited to have Pam joining the Collaborative!
In addition, we are in the middle of building projects at Arlington High School and Belmont Junior Senior High School that will provide LABBB programs with outstanding space, furniture and equipment to better serve our students. We are appreciative of the efforts of Dr. Elizabeth Homan (Arlington Superintendent), Alison Elmer (Arlington Director of Special Education), John Phelan (Belmont Superintendent), Ken Kramer (Belmont Director of Student Services), and well as many other school and district leaders in these two systems for their work to ensure that LABBB is a key partner in these building projects. 
Recently, Burlington approved funding for a feasibility study at Fox Hill Elementary School and Lexington High School was extended an invitation to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) eligibility period, meaning that there is now positive movement on both of these important school building projects. Based on our conversations to date with Dr. Eric Conti (Burlington Superintendent) and Dr. Julie Hackett (Lexington Superintendent) we know that LABBB will be an integral part of the conversation regarding these possible construction projects.
These examples of collaboration provide evidence of one of the key strengths at LABBB - our member districts believe (and regularly demonstrate) that “LABBB is us and we are LABBB.” While there are many other Collaboratives that do exceptional work on behalf of students, I agreed to serve as Interim Executive Director here because of the unique commitment that Lexington, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont and Burlington leadership have made to meaningful inclusion of LABBB programming in their schools. I have been honored to experience that commitment first hand over the past eight months and look forward to exploring ways to enhance the collaboration on behalf of our students, staff and families during my remaining few months at LABBB.
Enjoy the improving weather and our transition to Spring!

Bill Lupini

Parent meetings for 2021-2022 will take place from 7:00 to 8:15 p.m. on the following dates:
April 28 - LABBB's Annual Transition Fair at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington.

May 19 - Forever Parent Presentation

We hope that our parents will be able to attend!

Clinical Corner: Communication is a two-way process
By: Christine Carr

The root of staff and student interaction is the relationship. The root of any relationship is communication, and communication is a two-way process. Everyone communicates with their own set of needs and wants in mind. In a recent IEP meeting, a mom expressed that she thought her student had a diagnosis of “pathological demand avoidance” and asked that we investigate it, so I did. Persons with PDA have an extreme avoidance of everyday tasks and expectations. Sound familiar? In my reading, a key takeaway was that for persons with PDA, communication is paramount. It is important to engage calmly and be prepared to negotiate.  The communication, and thus the relationship, is dependent upon CLEARLY setting your expectations and boundaries - what are my needs and wants - and then hearing and trying to understand what the student/child needs and wants as well. Acknowledging and reflecting a student/child's wants and needs may be all that is necessary to move towards a level of compliance or some negotiated version of compliance.

We work in special education and parent children with special needs. Essentially, each day we are put in a position where we are going to be uncomfortable. I use the metaphor; special education staff (and parents) are handed a lit stick of dynamite in the morning and hope to get to the end of the day before the wick hits the stick. No joke. School, as well as various parts of the day, can often be a trigger for our kids. There is no shame in admitting that the job (teaching/parenting) can be a trigger for us as well on any given day. Given these circumstances, we must continue to keep communication clear and direct during these triggered times. How do you do that? First, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Self-care sets that foundation for calm clear communication. Also, communicate with your teammates/family members, get support when necessary, and prepare yourself for the daily negotiations and dysregulations. I tell students all the time when dealing with peers, we can’t control anyone else’s behavior, only our own. So, I say the same now, control what you can - your breathing, remaining calm (fake it until you make it), and keeping yourself regulated. Not every communication “battle” needs to be won – we just need to avoid the dynamite ... easy, right?
LABBB Community Parent Nights
By: Donna Goodell

We were so excited to get back to in-person parent nights! The event on March 10th was well attended with over 30 parents packing the conference room at the Lexington Community Center. Our own Tori Dennis, Transition Specialist, presented on the Transition Timeline. She shared broadly about the many topics and areas on which families need to focus attention to prepare for their children with disabilities to become adults. You can find her presentation here. The ensuing questions and conversation were enriching as more detailed and specific information was discussed around various aspects of transition planning.

It is LABBB’s goal to help our community of families through the process of transitioning to adulthood. Part of this is our parent nights throughout the year. Another aspect is our Annual Transition Fair. This year, our Transition Fair will be in-person again! It will be held on April 28th at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington. All parents are welcome! Keep an eye out for the flyer in your email inbox. You can also find it here. We look forward to seeing you there!

LABBB Clerical Crew at LHS
By: Amanda O'Leary

“May you be proud of the work you do, the person you are, and the difference you make.” - unknown

There is a special place at Lexington High School LABBB - the LABBB Clerical Crew office. The LABBB Clerical Crew is in operation five days a week, nestled between LABBB’s Lexington office and the transition office. Community instructor, Christine Newton, is integral to its success and has been “running” our clerical crew since before the pandemic, originally at Minuteman Technical High school, then at 2 Militia Drive (part of Grace Chapel) and now at Lexington High School. 

Students who are part of the LABBB Clerical Crew are gaining invaluable pre-vocational experience. LABBB staff can request a variety of jobs to be completed. These jobs include but are not limited to: making copies, collating, mailings, shredding confidential documents, laminating, book binding, labeling, and more. Students complete these jobs, sometimes as part of a team or an assembly line or they may complete a task from beginning to end as an individual. 

For many of our students who need a higher level of support, being part of the Clerical Crew may be their first vocational experience outside of their classroom. Students may intern for part of a day (just in the morning or just in the afternoon) or they may intern for the entire day. Not only are they learning some clerical skills but they are also able to focus on other functional life skills, such as: following a schedule, turn taking, communicating with others, advocating for their needs and wants, and having consistent expected behaviors while at work.
Community instructor, Christine Newton, has worked hard to make sure that the Clerical Crew office is a place that students WANT to be. Most students who intern with her are proud of the work that they have done and will often share their accomplishments with others, which is an amazing goal to achieve!
Music and Dancing are Good for Our Soul!!  
By: Susan Good

Music and busting a move can be a powerful tool and strategy for all types of people! Here at LABBB Bedford, we embed music and dancing into our weekly activities. Both Music and dance promote social, emotional, cognitive, and physical integration.
The American Music Therapy Association states that music can be used “therapeutically to address behavioral, social, psychological, communicative, physical, sensory-motor, and/or cognitive functioning. Because music therapy is a powerful and non-threatening medium, unique outcomes are possible.” We take great value in this research and have adopted music as one of our Core Values at LABBB!
Our weekly experience with music and dance includes Amplified Music once a week which includes singing and dancing with an Amplifi instructor. Our weekly video showcase includes our students selecting a song of interest and working to express how different music makes them feel or affects their mood with the support of our Speech and Language Pathologist. Our Physical Therapist team also has implemented a HIIT class which stands for High Intensity Interval Training that promotes exercises at quick or high speeds while using music. Last but not least we take the opportunity to have spontaneous music and dance therapeutic movement breaks to keep ourselves alert and able to conquer the day.
Music and dance always create such a positive fun-filled environment as we navigate our way through the days and weeks of the school year. The benefits of incorporating all this physical activity can only strengthen our connection with our bodies, help reduce stress, and allow us to take a break from everyday challenges and responsibilities. The following lists show the impact that music/movement/dance has in our Bedford classrooms. 
Listening to music provides students with:
    Understanding putting feelings into words
    Having a healthy outlet to release emotions
    Providing students with comfort and memories
    Reflecting on experiences they have had
    Releasing Dopamine to increase mood
    Making us feel a sense of belonging/togetherness
    Interacting with peers
Dancing/HIIT to music provides students with:
    Moving their body in many different ways
    Encouraging creativity
    Using their imagination
    Developing their self-esteem
    Experiencing fun and joyfulness
    Building listening skills to move to the beat
    Developing language skills singing your heart out while moving
    Building endurance
    Building strong bones and muscles

Click on the video link "Just Can't Stop This Feeling"
LABBB At Arlington High
By: Jeff Caritey

Arlington High School has been actively moving along in their development of building a new high school! It has been exciting to be a part of this process which includes the design of our new space(s), both short-term and long-term. Arlington High School reached their next phase of the project as the brand new building along Mass Ave opened following the February break. Over the break, several classrooms within the high school, including our LABBB classrooms, moved to a separate area of the building that had been recently renovated in order to meet the needs of our students. It was a lot of work packing and setting up our new classrooms, but we are thrilled to finally be in our newly renovated space! The students have all done a really great job with the transition to the new environment and seem to be enjoying the additional space. LABBB at AHS will be in this space until September of 2025 when the final building project of the new Arlington High School is complete.
LABBB Adapted Physical Education, Recreation and Social Opportunities

We were so happy to be able to have the February Mini Golf trip in person. Our group headed to Trombetta’s in Marlboro, which is an awesome indoor greenhouse with a mini golf course inside.This trip, we had our lunch brought in to Trombetta’s and then had our ice cream just before leaving. We all wore masks (we were inside, after all) but it was so nice to socialize with students from outside our class and be able to have a meal together. We celebrated four students who got a hole in one.
Bowling and Wednesday Recreation programs begin the last week of March/1st week of April. Flyers and Sign ups for these activities should have come in the mail and sign ups are due by March 15. Please pay attention to the location of your student’s bowling. We’ve had to make changes to the Tuesday group due to availability of the Woburn Bowladrome.
We are also excited that our LABBB St. Patrick’s Day dance was back in person at the Lexington Community Center. Look for photos of the dance in the April newsletter. Welcome spring and new beginnings!

Save the Date for upcoming events:

 March 10, 2022: LABBB St. Patrick’s Day Dance in person at       
                               Lexington Community Center
March 29, 2022: Start date for Tuesday Spring Bowling
March 31, 2022: Start date for Thursday Spring Bowling
April 6, 2022: Start date for Wednesday Spring Walking and Glee
April 28, 2022: LABBB Spring Dance in person at Lexington
                        Community Center
April 28, 2022: Transition Fair, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum,
Lexington (6:30 PM - 8:30 PM)
May 16, 2022: Special Olympics all day at Lexington High Track
 June 2, 2022: LABBB Alumni Dance via zoom 6:30 – 7:30PM
 June 9, 2022: LABBB Graduation, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum

To view the sign up sheets for the 2021/2022 school year Recreation Activities please Click here

Remember to follow @LABBBREC on Twitter
Updated LABBB Brochure

Click here or on the image to view the new LABBB brochure.

Executive Director, Patric Barbieri, Hosts a Podcast talking about special needs planning and resources related to our community

In episode #22 we talk about our journey in building a mindful culture in LABBB. It is one of our core values that is posted throughout our collaborative. There is a significant difference between just talking about these practices and actually doing them. We made a commitment to offering mindful practices for all students in all our classrooms every single day. We also believe for us to be successful we need to offer and teach this to our staff as well. We are a community practicing together and this is the only way to get the true benefits. We have been fortunate to have many staff persons who have a myriad of unique mind-body skills to bring into our environments for both students and staff. 

This initiative started organically back in the early '90s. We realized that these practices have a significant impact on managing the pervasive anxiety symptoms that people are feeling. Our mission was to bring these practices directly into our schools and for staff and students to know they have permission to practice at any time. When one individual is practicing it is benefiting their entire community!

Rayne Pratt and Lisa Poirier, LABBB Occupational therapists, join me in this podcast. They are members of our LABBB Mind/Body team and they are also the creators and facilitators of our all-day staff retreat that we offer. 


LABBB Contacts
LABBB Collaborative
123 Cambridge Street, Burlington MA. 01803|