Spotlight on DYS Education & Educators:
Key Contributors to Positive Youth Development 
We all want youth to become valued, 
Commissioner Peter Forbes
productive members of their respective communities and to lead fulfilling lives. In DYS, we believe education is one of the most important and powerful services we can deliver to support youth in reaching that goal. 

That's why our teachers plan and implement programs and activities that give DYS youth vital knowledge and tangible credentials.

Each year, many of our youth attain High School Diplomas or its equivalent (HiSET), complete meaningful training programs, participate in post-secondary education, earn professional credentials, and achieve other milestones. 

Their successes are made possible through the hard work and collaboration of caring adults--teachers, education and career counselors, group workers, clinicians, administrative officers, caseworkers, program directors, district managers, provider staff, and other community partners. 

I want to thank all our teachers and education staff for their dedication and commitment in helping to change the life trajectories of our youth. As the  teachers who work in our six-week summer school programs wrap up their sessions, we look forward to welcoming back our school year teachers.

In this newsletter, you'll meet some of our educational team. From leaders like CES' Woody Clift, DESE's Mary Lou Chapman, and DYS' new Education Director Renee Heywood to front-line teachers, such as Jane Chick, Bob Bourget, and Mary Morrison, you'll see how our agency's educational services open opportunities for our youth.


P.S. Please email me your comments and suggestions!
In This Issue:
Mark Your Calendars:
- Sept. 28: Commissioner's & Performance Recognition Awards 
Quick links: 


DYS Homepage


Unique Teachers Provide Unique Programming to Serve Unique Youth

Quick Read:
This article describes the philosophy and approach of DYS educational programming, highlights the educational services our agency provides to students with special needs, and features insights from key DYS educational leaders.

Since 2003, DYS has collaborated with Commonwealth Corporation (CommCorp) and the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) to deliver quality educational services through the Comprehensive Education Partnership.

Understanding that education improves life outcomes for our youth, DYS provides educational services in all our residential programs. Educational services are provided year round, five days a week, with 5.5 hours of instructional services daily. 
DYS Educational Programming Overview

DYS seeks to ensure that youth are "future ready" and prepared for the demands of further education and the 21st century workplace. 

The DYS educational model provides youth with many pathways to grow academically and vocationally, including opportunities to pursue and obtain a High School diploma or its equivalent, enroll in and earn credits for post-secondary courses, achieve success in MCAS, and gain 21st century skills and knowledge.

Our agency's partnership with CommCorp and CES creates access to quality education and vocational opportunities for DYS youth. 

"Our educators make a difference every day," reflects William Diehl, Ed.D., Executive Director of CES. "For more than 10 years, we've collaborated with DYS staff at all levels to provide youth a range of coordinated education and employability strategies, as well as to support related programs and initiatives. We value our long term relationship with DYS and look forward to advancing the agency's commitment to educational excellence and Positive Youth Development."

In DYS classrooms throughout Massachusetts, teachers implement an intentional and detailed process to welcome youth and get to know their education and career goals. Building strong and trusting relationships with youth, DYS t eachers personalize their e ducational experiences.

"Teaching and learning in a treatment setting is not the same as a public school, although there are some similarities," explains Woody Clift, Director of the DYS Educational Initiative for CES. "In addition to frequent transitions and a wide range of learners and needs within a single classroom, many of our youth have traumatic backgrounds that result in a legitimate distrust of adults. We train teachers to understand our population, to design meaningful and engaging lessons, and to help youth expand their sense of who they are now and in the future. Our educators understand that their first step--really, the most important step in engaging youth in their educational growth--is developing respect and rapport with students. This can lead to a trusting and quality teacher-student relationship. Our teachers meet youth where they are personally."

Teachers also use student performance data to drive planning and instruction, develop education and career plans, and offer creative academic programming that aligns with a youth's career interests and educational goals.

Data show that youth appreciate and benefit from the regular conferences with their teachers and the opportunity to share their progress with other caring adults outside of the classroom.
Three Core Components of DYS' Approach to Teaching & Learning: 

1.  Access for All:  Providing effective access to the general education curriculum for all students requires several approaches that include culturally responsive practices, Positive Youth Development, and differentiated instruction, as well as coordination with the Special Education in Institutional Settings (SEIS) program (see below). 

2.  Student Progress Monitoring:  Teachers use assessment tools and student data to drive instruction. In addition to using data and tools to co-plan lessons, teachers continuously monitor and adjust instruction to meet students' needs and support academic growth.

3.  Curriculum & Instruction: All curricula are grounded in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and aligned with the Common Core State Standards. T eachers use high impact instructional strategies including blended learning and project-based learning (see examples below). 
"30 Seconds with... Kara Peterson"
"Very Proud" of DYS Education

Kara Peterson is CommCorp's Senior Program Manager for the Education Quality Assurance (EQA) Initiative. For the past six years, Kara has visited and monitored DYS education programs throughout the Commonwealth. Following visits, her team publishes reports recommending how DYS can improve the education we provide our youth.  See why she's encouraged.  (Video)
Blending Learning Personalizes Education

One vehicle for personalizing education and career readiness experiences for our youth is the blended learning educational programs offered through DYS' partnership with the  Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS)   and CES .

Blended learning combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. It  allows students to exercise some control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning.  

Our teachers introduce and expose students to technologies that support blended learning. Students have been involved in coding, building robots, designing and printing 3D products, conducting hands-on project-based learning exercises, creating digital stories with a restorative justice lens, and writing book reviews for public audiences. 

"It can be challenging to train teachers to design lessons that are accessible to the range of learners in any one classroom," explains Clift. "We use the 'Workshop Model' to design lessons and classrooms that maximize the learning of all students. Also, the scope and sequence of the education we provide addresses the fact that DYS students often move from one setting to another."

Students create tangible products that demonstrate their learning, gaining confidence along with vital leadership, teamwork, and communications skills. 

"Jobs of today and in the future require proficiency in technology and how to use it responsibly," adds Clift. "Our blended learning work increases youth familiarity and comfort with technology so they're equipped to pursue their respective passions. Creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, a growth mindset that includes learning from failure, and engaging in an iterative design process: That's the world of the 21st century. Within DYS' secure residential environments, that's the world for which we're preparing DYS youth."

Investing in Educators

Research consistently demonstrates that highly qualified teachers are key to successful learning for all youth. DYS invests significant resources to professionalize our education workforce, particularly to recruit , hire, train, and retain qualified teachers who are committed to work with our population. 

Educators participate in relevant and appropriate professional development provided and coordinated by CES. Incorporating current research on proven teaching and learning methods, professional development is tailored to increase educator knowledge and skills in planning and delivering quality instruction to DYS youth.

Seeking to close the proficiency and academic gap that exists between English Language Learners and their peers statewide, many DYS teachers and educational administrators participate in DESE-funded classes as part of the Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL) initiatives.

"DYS' statewide efforts to engage families, guardians and other community supports are bearing fruit," says Clift. "We see this in increased participation of these caring adults in College & Career Fairs, Science Fairs, graduations, and other special events where teachers, program staff, caseworkers and other staff support youth and their families. Families see the results of what youth are learning and working on: Horticulture, artwork, soaps/lotions, t-shirt design and distribution. Most importantly, youth gain marketable skills along with the recognition they deserve. All this serves our mission to promote positive change in youth in our care."
Role of the Special Education in Institutional Settings (SEIS) Program

DYS contracts with CommCorp to employ General Education teachers;  the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) contracts with CES to employ Special Education teachers who work in DYS programs. 

Mary Lou Chapman,  Director of the Special Education in Institutional Settings Program, oversees DYS'  Special Education Services contract with CES. She describes the relationship between DYS and DESE  as "very close, positive and unique."

Chapman highlights the "productive and collaborative work we do at program levels," citing the example of a co-planning model  for students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

"I feel really good about what we've built with DYS--not just in terms of data tracking and sharing, but also the outcomes we've achieved," reflects Chapman. "Our agencies work well together in many ways beyond special education. While there's always room to improve, we should celebrate our accomplishments. Our system is working for staff and, more importantly, for special needs youth in Massachusetts."
DYS Welcomes New Education Director
Renee Heywood

A familiar face to many in DYS, Renee Heywood spent the last eight years as a CES employee working in the Metro Region as Regional  Education Coordinator. As DYS' new Education Director, she's already tapping that experience and knowledge.  "It helps me as Education Director to have that field experience," she says. 

Renee's education background is as broad as it is deep. It includes home schooling children, teaching Spanish (preschool to 12th grade), and creating courses at Wheelock College. 

Her special interest in arts education reflects her other career as a professional singer. A Gospel artist who's recorded three CDs, Renee sees the positive effect of the arts on young people because she's experienced it herself, she reflects.

"The academic success of a child depends in part on their intelligence, but more so on how their effort to learn about their world is treated by the adults in their lives." 
(Carl H. Haywood)

Renee's "dream school" combines business, arts and technology--a hybrid community school open to all that leverages and showcases student skills. "Everyone would be able to demonstrate the skills they're developing and share their skills to benefit the community." 

Renee plans to be visible in DYS' five regions. "It's important for me to see and be seen in the regions. DYS leadership has encouraged me to be more visible in the field and I look forward to that." She would also like to find ways to increase youth engagement with the arts: "Performance art, visual art, dance, poetry, you name it. Let's give our youth more spaces and places to express themselves through the arts."

Finally, and she adds, perhaps most importantly, Renee hopes to explore and expand vocational education and programming for DYS youth. "It's important for youth to understand the career opportunities available to them in trades like Horticulture, Culinary Arts, Carpentry, Plumbing, Small Engine Repair, Carpentry, Barbering and others, where they can see that hard work pays off."

WATCH: "30 Seconds with...Renee Heywood" ( the story behind Urban College)

DYS teachers are highly qualified: The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)  requires teachers to be licensed in their subject area to teach that subject across grade levels. All DYS teachers are licensed at either the Provisional, Initial, or Professional levels. Of our agency's 132 teachers in School Year 2017-18:
  • 61% had more than one license
  • 48% had a Professional license (highest level attainable in Massachusetts)
  • 36% had a Initial license
  • 16% had a Provisional license (Bachelor's degree and passed MTEL courses; has not completed approved educator preparation program)
Read: Project Based Learning in DYS
Project Based Learning (PjBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Among DYS students and teachers, PjBL unleashes a contagious, creative energy. Here's an example:

Watching custom-made Pinewood Derby cars plummet down a custom-made track at Worcester Secure, Bob Bourget is as excited as the DYS youth whom he shepherded through the week-long Project-Based Learning activity. Now in its fourth year, Pinewood Derby involves problem solving, design, math, science and engineering; the hands-on activity generates a win for DYS youth by skillfully combining competition, movement and learning.
Youth always greet the Pinewood Derby skeptically, but they're hooked by the end of the first day, says Bourget. "We give them a 2.5 ounce kit (photo below left) and they have to build a model that can't weigh more than five ounces. The same rules apply to everyone. " In addition to the nine students working on Pinewood Derby cars, two staff and one teacher have also entered the competition.
After distributing the kits on a Monday, Bourget assigns his class research using Chromebooks. Tuesday is 'Cosmetics Day'--students decorate their cars however they want. Wednesday the wheels go on and students experiment with weighting. On Thursday, Derby racers can put their respective cars through unlimited test runs and make adjustments before final weigh-in on Friday morning at 10.

Students use a Triple Beam Balance to determine precise the calibrations and convert grams into ounces. "In addition to precise mathematics, students have to figure out where to distribute the weight to achieve maximum speed. That's Newton's Law (F=MA)," explains Bourget. "They can work on it on their own time, and many get really into it."
Friday is Race Day: Entrants race three cars at a time on a student-built track. The competition is double elimination; strict timing rules apply.  Reflecting on the Pinewood Derby's enduring appeal, Bourget says, "Many of our youth are visual learners; they learn by watching and doing. Chromebooks enhance the visual effect and complement learning. It's a kinetic project, so it keeps our youth moving, which can be difficult in a secure setting."
Of the Pinewood Derby, Bourget says "it's very fulfilling to see youth succeeding--even trying to succeed. We expose them to new experiences, new ways of thinking. If they ask to keep the car, I let them. It's tangible evidence of something they built with their own hands, and it's great positive reinforcement." At $34 for ten Derby cars, it's also an affordable way to expose students to several aspects of STEM learning.
The Pinewood Derby is just one the hands-on learning activities Bourget plans for DYS youth over the summer. Other projects include the Bridge Contest, Egg Drop Contest, "What Makes It Float", and the ever-popular Paper Airplane contest. At an end-of-summer session celebration, Bourget showcases all the projects and awards students for various accomplishments.

Watch: DYS Teacher Profiles
Meet some of our teachers and educational staff in these short YouTube videos. 
- Mary Morrison  (Teaching Coordinator, Eliot Boys Assessment)
Dick Woodbury  (Northeast Region Teacher in Lynn)
- Mat Campione  (Northeast Region HS Equivalency Coordinator, NFI)
- Kristina Meuse  (Education & Career Counselor, CES)
- Kimberly Johnson  (Northeast Region Education Coordinator)
Bobby Stanton  (English & Science Teach, CATP - Springfield)

grads June DYS Graduations: Photos, Videos & Summaries
Every June, DYS celebrates youth accomplishments in earning their High School diplomas or its equivalent. This year our agency held six graduation ceremonies across the Commonwealth at which parents, guardians, extended family, friends and staff honored 169 students for their educational attainments.

  "30 Seconds with... Francisco 'Tito' Santos-Silva" (video) captures the feelings of DYS staff and providers at these noteworthy events.
Youth Educational Attainments, School Year 2017-18

In the recently completed school year, 169 DYS youth achieved an educational attainment: 96 youth earned a High School diploma and 73 youth attained a HS Equivalency Degree (GED or HiSET). That's a 21% increase from SY16-17, when 140 DYS youth achieved an educational attainment (60 HS diploma and 78 GED or HiSET.)  

Without address
Save the Date! 

2018 Commissioner's & Performance Recognition Awards

: Sep. 28; 12:30 - 4 PM 

: Metro Youth Service Center

Adjuncts Expand DYS Training Reach  
DYS has utilized an adjunct training model for many years. Adjunct Trainers expand the DYS Training Center's reach by sharing their knowledge and expertise with staff and providers.

"Adjunct Trainers are vital members of the DYS Training Team," emphasizes Ruth Rovezzi, Deputy Commissioner of Operations. "By increasing the professionalism of DYS staff and providers, they advance our mission to invest in highly qualified staff. We're grateful for their service and encourage other staff to consider becoming Adjunct Trainers."

Adjunct Trainers help deliver statewide training for DYS, whether it is Basic Training, Annual Review (AR), or a new rollout. With Training Center resources increasingly devoted to delivering Basic this year, the knowledge, skills and expertise of Adjunct Trainers are more important than ever.

The current AR Adjunct Trainers had to complete successfully the rigorous five-day training of trainers in the DYS Restraint and Defensive & Disengagement Technique Module before they could deliver this year's AR training. Each year, Adjuncts must learn the new AR curriculum that they will train.  Thanks to all AR Adjunct Trainers!

Region Name (years of AR Adjunct Trainer service)
Ed Lewis (3),  Jon Mcmanus (2),  Danielle Spitz (3), 
Meghan Welch (4), Tom Houatchanthara (2)
Demetrius Solomon (2), Frank Cabral (2),  Grace Velasquez (2),
James Gustowski (6),  Steve Geter (2),  Phil Hindin (6), 
Keith Thomson (6), Jen Resil (2)
Nick Bound (6),  Meghan Veo (5),  Melissa Ouellette (2), 
Jarred Ingersoll (2), Chris Voyiagis (2)
Okeno Smith (2),  Monsell Lloyd (2),  Craig Hinton (2),  Bob Graham (2),  Bob Long (6), Shane Lima (6)
Melissa Giftos (3),  Benson Patterson (3), 
Rosario Giordan  (2),  James Collins (2), Sheldon Thompson (2)