Helping teachers meet the needs of students academically, behaviorally and socially-emotionally is what Alicia O’Connell comes to work each day to do.
The teacher on special assignment as multi-tiered systems of support coordinator is assigned to the Office of Students with Exceptionalities but works in conjunction with the curriculum and data teams.
O’Connell ran her own pre-school in her home for three years before landing at Krieger Elementary School in 2018 as a special education teacher and the instructional support team chair. “I was able to help support teachers with resources and structures to support students academically, but because they were referred to me and some had behavioral issues, I started to recommend strategies to teachers for that, too.”
This position does exactly that, but on a district level. “When this position was announced, I was excited because I know how important it is that students in our community feel supported as a whole child,” she said, adding that she noticed a lot of students are overclassified for special education services. “Especially English language learners who are being classified as speech and language impaired.”
One thing she hopes to accomplish is creating a consistent approach to multi-tiered systems of support by creating a matrix, common forms and language for everyone, which she is working on with the Dutchess BOCES Regional Partnership Center.“Our students have experienced so much trauma from the pandemic so it is important to have a framework in place to assist them with all their needs,” she said.
Using Frontline’s RTI & MTSS Program Management software, students’ progress will be monitored and it will help staff implement interventions in a timely manner and in accordance with district procedures and practices, she said.
Outside of work, O’Connell enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her family and is a learning junkie. She is pursuing her School Administrator certificate at the State University of New York at New Paltz and said she’d love to pursue her doctorate. She also carves time out to watch, listen to or read for self-development.
Thank you, Alicia, for taking on the task of working with our teachers so our students can overcome challenges on their path to success.