The LABBB Collaborative
 Newsletter                    
  September 2015
LABBB After School Recreation Trip to Drew Farms in Westford
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
 
Dear LABBB Community: 

When I was in elementary school we had two musical requirements along with our regular music class. The first was chorus. Every student was part of the chorus by grade. The second was playing the recorder. Both of these classes were mandatory. Our music teacher also encouraged each student to learn an instrument, but this was not mandatory. By sixth grade every student had to participate in the school play. This was a big event in our school. It didn't matter if you had a major part, sang in the chorus, or were just on stage being part of the background action, but you had to be a participant.  
 
Our music teacher, Mrs Tyrie, was dynamic. Reflecting, I would describe her classes as a blend of music, yoga and mediation. All students were scheduled for chorus two times a week, so we were singing quite a bit in school. To begin class, Mrs. Tyrie would stand in front of everyone to get our attention, and we knew she was ready to lead us in warm ups. The warm ups were simple breathing exercises. She would demonstrate and remind us where we were supposed to be breathing when we were singing, and she modeled this each class. As she led us through these exercises, she was brining us to a place where we were prepared to sing. 
 
Mrs Tyrie knew when you were not singing. You couldn't just go through the motions in her class. We learned quickly that if you didn't want her to be calling your name in front of everyone, you better be belting it out! She made sure we were not holding our breath, and would constantly direct us to "breathe, right here, right now." It felt like a workout after chorus.
 
I never thought of the health benefits that we learned from chorus, but purposely or not, music was the vehicle for many health benefits in her class. Mrs. Tyrie taught us how to breathe from the diaphragm, and how to expand our breath. She was very consistent in these methods throughout my elementary years. These same exercises are taught in yoga and mediation classes. Where do we learn to be in touch with our breath? It is so important to know we are breathing and learn how to regulate one of the most important functions of our body. Especially when we are feeling under stress or have anxiety. 
 
In past newsletters I have discussed our initiative to add more music, theater, art, yoga and meditation into our programs. This initiative started organically and has grown significantly over the past few years.
 
About 7 years ago a team from LABBB convened to write our core values. We have a commitment to these values, but they also change and evolve as well.
 
During our LABBB opening day I presented two new core values for our organization. Both of the values are being practiced and they are so important that we believe they should be part of our core values. With all the state mandates, regulations, testing, MCAS portfolio's etc., this has taken away from the arts. At LABBB, we are going to find a way to cultivate these important values. It is time to make this a priority. 

See the article below as Donna Goodell, Program Director, talks more about our current and new core values. 
Core Values
By Donna Goodell, Program Director
We all have a set of Core Values. They may differ from one person to the next, or one organization to the next, but we all have them, even if they aren't advertised, or out there publicly. Our Core Values are the things we live by, the basis of our decisions and actions. This year at our Opening Day presentation, Patric, our Executive Director, proposed that LABBB add two Core Values to our current set. Although I did not know he was going to propose this, I was not the least bit surprised, and immediately thought how natural this seemed. 


Our current Core Values state:
 
Quality: We provide high quality programming to each unique child attending our schools.
 
Partnership: Partnership between home and school is essential to the success of our students.
 
Independence: We foster an environment that enables our students to acquire the necessary skills to lead more independent lives.
 
Student Strengths: We create and promote opportunities to maximize our students' strengths.
 
Communication:  Our staff is committed to creating a professional working and learning environment through teamwork, communication, and respect.
 
Everyone who works at LABBB understands the expectation these Core Values represent. They are the foundation for what we do and how we do it. Many of you may be familiar with these Core Values because we talked about them during your visit or tour of our programs, we have them posted in our work spaces and classrooms, and they are posted on our website. To those working at LABBB, these are not just things we talk about and have displayed in certain places, they are the Values by which we work and operate.
 
Throughout this past year, you may have noticed that the topic of mindfulness, it's benefits, and our efforts to incorporate more mind/body practices into our programs, has been a frequent topic in our newsletter. I am pleased to tell you that, at this time, approximately 80% of our classrooms incorporate mind/body management practices in one form or another. We also have a Mind/Body Management Group that meets a couple of times each month to discuss ideas and strategies to offer more access to mind/body management practices to our students and staff.
 
In addition to working at increasing our use of mind/body practices in our classrooms, we have also put a lot of effort into offering more music, arts and theater opportunities for our students. This year we partnered with both Brio Integrated Theater and Unified Theater to provide our students opportunities to participate in two theater performances, one at Burlington High School and one at Bedford High School. Both performances were fantastic, and enjoyed by students performing, staff coordinating and assisting, and parents and others who attended.
 
After our Opening Day presentation, Patric sent out a survey to staff to see how people felt about adding the belief of  the use of mind/body management practices and music, arts and theater to our Core Values. The response to the survey was overwhelmingly positive with many people commenting how excited they were about these Core Values.

Personally, I have seen the astonishingly positive effects that mind/body management practices have had on some of our students with the most significant emotional and behavioral challenges. I was amazed, impressed, and so excited to see how some students, who had not responded to so many other calming strategies, responded so positively to yoga, in particular.
 
I attended both the Brio Integrated Theater and Unified Theater productions this past year. It was so wonderful to see our students so excited and so passionate about their role in each performance. They were beaming, while expressing themselves through music, singing, dancing, narrating, and acting. Each night was an unbelievable experience for all involved, including the audience.
 
We are going to continue to move forward with integrating both mind/body management practices and opportunities to express oneself through music, arts and theater into our programs at LABBB. We feel these forms of expression are so important that we are adding them to our Core Values:
 
Mind / Body Management: We believe in a culture that supports the practice of mind / body exercises for staff and students.

Music, Arts and Theater: We believe that music, arts, and theater are healthy forms of expression and an important part of our students' education.
 
I hope you join us in our enthusiasm and dedication to these additions to our Core Values. We are excited for a wonderful, productive and fun filled year ahead for all our students, staff, and entire LABBB community.
 

The Solar System
by Keith Muise, Teacher, Butler Elementary School
Students in the grade 3-4 class at Butler Elementary have been studying our solar system, specifically: planets, moons, stars, and the sun. Our students have been working to identify each of the eight planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and sequence them based on proximity to the sun. 






Students also explored different aspects of individual 
planets, as well as compared and contrasted Earth and Mars. 


To conclude the unit, our students made "Space Shirts" which illustrate the planets and the sun. Directions for creating the shirts will soon be posted on Pinterest.  
 

Room 115 at Memorial Goes Under the Sea
by Samantha Beers, Teacher, Memorial Elementary School

Throughout the summer program, the students read many stories about ocean animals. Each student was given an animal to learn about throughout the 6 weeks.

The students worked on art projects and discovered new and exciting facts about the animals.  We also went on some adventures! We took a trip to the New England Aquarium. 
The students had a blast seeing a lot of the animals that they were learning about in class.  

As the summer program came to an end, we decided to make an under the sea cake. The students decorated it with all different sea animals and crushed up graham crackers for the sand. 

 We had a super awesome summer in Room 115!! 




   


Ben's Success in LABBB's i-Work Program
by Donna Goodell, Program Director
  Ben is an intelligent young man who, when he first came to LABBB for vocational training, presented as reluctant and disinterested. Prior to coming to LABBB, Ben suffered a significant personal loss and experienced some challenges in his public school setting. After moving from one out of district placement to another, Ben was referred to LABBB's i-Work Program beginning in May 2015 through August 2015, with the goal of obtaining community-based work experience, working on his job seeking skills, and obtaining gainful employment. When Ben was referred to LABBB, he had met all the criteria to earn a high school diploma, but he didn't have any community-based work experience.
 
i-Work is a LABBB Program that provides students with individualized, interest based opportunities to explore their career interests in community-based work settings, while being supported by colleagues in that work setting (natural supports). Students referred to this program need to demonstrate a level of social and work skill independence that will allow them to function in a work setting with minimal support.
 
Having had no prior work experience, and appearing reluctant to participate, Ben began his time with LABBB at a worksite with a job coach. Although not enthused by the opportunities for work in an environment supported by a job coach, Ben quickly developed a great rapport with is Vocational Counselor.
 
Ben worked with his Vocational Counselor at LABBB to learn and hone his interview skills. He participated in role-plays and built his confidence. He then set out, with his Vocational Counselor, to find jobs of interest in his home community, within a reasonable commute from his home.
 
When Ben was presented with the opportunity to interview and work independently in a competitive job, he rose to the occasion. He used his interview skills to meet with the employer and secure the position. In his excitement to have a job, he then took full responsibility for getting himself up and ready in the morning, and to the job on time, ready to work.
 
His father and Vocational Counselor could not be more proud and impressed by his change in attitude and sense of responsibility. Today, Ben is gainfully employed full time with full benefits, and is a contributing member of his home and community.
 
Congratulations, Ben! We are so proud of your accomplishments!!

Welcome to the 2015 LABBB Summer Extension Travel Training Program!
By Michael Allen, Teacher, Lexington High School
In Back to the Future, Doc Emmitt Brown said to Marty McFly, "Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads!"  

Welcome to the 2015 LABBB Summer Extension Travel Training Program (LSETTP).  

For two weeks in August, the LABBB Program conducted a class to help its students improve their travel training skills in a wide variety of community settings with the specific goal of increasing their independence and confidence in this area.  LABBB teachers, Mike Allen and Paul O'Connell, worked with a class of seven LABBB students (Andrew and Aaron Mcinerney, Rebecca Zive, Tyler Landrigan, Ben Malsky, Micah Abraham and Liz Pesiridis).  Destinations during this two week period included the Burlington Mall, Middlesex Commons Shopping Plaza, Arlington Center, Harvard Square, the Prudential Center Mall, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace.   

The transportation systems that the group focused on using were the Lexington Lexpress bus system, the MBTA bus system and the MBTA subway system. The teachers conducted a daily review class to plan each day's trip into the community, as well as reviewing the specific assignment once we arrived at our destination. The focus was not only on the "hard skills" that the students would need to be successful on the trip (i.e. reading a bus/subway schedule, utilizing the transportation passes to take the bus/subway, planning/making purchases in the community, and locating specific stores/items in the community), but the "soft skills" as well (i.e. being aware of your surroundings, safety awareness, communicating with people in the environment, appropriately dealing with unexpected changes, and navigating the very busy community settings that we were in).  

The students did a great job during the two weeks and they had an educational and very fun experience! 

Students at LABBB Arlington High Embrace the Summer
By: Jeff Caritey
Students at LABBB AHS had several opportunities to connect our classroom curriculum to the community this summer.  In addition to overall daily regular programming, students participated in trips to Revere Beach, Kimball Farm, Boston Common and the State House, to name a few.  Skills focused on included travel training, safety, communication, money management, and science. It was a great summer to generalize our students' skills into a variety of these community settings.




Recreation News and Events
By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
  


Welcome LABBB families:

We are excited to begin 2015/2016 Recreation Activities.

Families of students enrolled in LABBB's middle school and high school programs should have received the Recreation Booklet for 2015/2016 in the mail in August.
If you did not receive one, or misplace it, don't worry, the whole brochure, as well as all trips or new events, will always be on our LABBB website. New this year we also have a monthly calendar on the LABBB website with all the recreation activities listed.

Along with recreation activities at LABBB, we often receive information regarding other recreational activities that are going on in other communities.  Here are a couple we have received recently:

Burlington Real School Of Music:

This organization offers group music and theater classes for those with physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities ages elementary - adult.  Classes are being offered at a Burlington location on Wednesdays 4:30 - 5:30 for elementary - junior high and 5:45-6:45 for high school through adults, with a complimentary class at those times this Wednesday.

You can contact them at this link for more information: Burlington Real School of Music for more information.


TOPS program for Lexington United Soccer Club:  

The Outreach Program for Soccer.  This program typically has 20-30 kids from Lexington and surrounding towns.  The kids have special needs running the full range of ages and functionality.  The program runs 7 weeks in the fall and spring and starts Saturday 9/12.  It goes from 12:30-2:00 at Diamond Middle School in Lexington, MA.  They also have volunteers and strive for a 1 to 1 ratio.

To learn more, you can visit: TOPS Program 


If you have new ideas to offer, please email them to prizzo@.labbb.net. We are always looking for new ideas and opportunities our students will enjoy!
Communication and Contacts Links
August Parent Mailings
This is a reminder that all new and returning parents were sent a mailing on August 7. If you have not returned all of these important documents which include updated emergency cards and health forms, please do this as soon as you can. 

We appreciate you taking the time to make this a priority for your son or daughter, as we want to make sure we have these items in our files for the safety of all our students. 
Parent Resources and Events
School Cancellation: All LABBB programs follow the school cancellations in their respective towns.

LABBB Parent Advisory Council (PAC)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Lexington High School Library

PAC Network and Elections
6:45 pm - 7:15 pm

Presentation:
"LABBB Program Overview - Q&A"
7:15 pm - 8:00 pm

Program Directors, Donna Goodell and Jimmy Kelly, will discuss recent
changes to the LABBB structure and answer your questions. All are welcome.

Masspac
By: Trish Orlovsky, Parent Co-Chair LABBB PAC
Typically we cannot anticipate when an emergency situation will happen. That goes for natural disasters (summer winds, winter storms, spring floods), manmade disasters (traffic accidents, downed power lines, broken gas mains), or serious public threats.  What we can  consider is how these disasters could affect us, and what steps we can take in "preparedness," in order to lessen the potential impact of these types of situations. One issue the public may overlook is that in times of emergency, there are many public interest duties that Police and Fire personnel must address, in addition to checking in on the citizens of a community. You can create a Family Plan to addresses your collective needs if you must (1) shelter at home, or (2) evacuate your home for up to 3 days (should that be necessary) is a key to improved outcomes. Every family member should be included in the planning process, so that their perspectives and needs are included in the process. National, state, and local governments have created many websites and resource tools to help families develop an effective plan. Some of those resources are listed here, including links for child-friendly materials:
 
Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) created a resource document to help families develop a Plan and emergency preparedness kits, compile emergency contacts, and identify community locations they frequent.  Following are links for this tool (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Haitian Creole):
 
www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/emergency-prep/ready-campaign/know-plan-prepare-checklist-fillable.pdf






Families of children, youth, and young adults who have special needs of all types have an added layer of planning that is needed. Their child's needs may require continuous access to power (for medical equipment and heat/air conditioning), phone lines (for help, in times of medical emergency), medical equipment, supplies, and medications (to maintain optimal health and mobility), etc. Work with your child's medical team to assess and address these specific areas, to ensure your child's health and safety during an emergency. Your child's medical team can help to identify and plan for these needs, and even provide letters of medical necessity for utilities and community providers, if needed. The DPH Directions Manual has a chapter on addressing emergencies; learn more at:  www.mass.gov/dph/fch/directions
 
An important and free program that families may access is the Disability Indicator Program, which allows local emergency planners to become aware of individuals in the community who may need additional assistance in times of emergencies. The enrollment form is easy to complete, and then submit to your local Emergency Management Director. The full list of Directors who oversee operations in their local community can be found on the website of the Mass. Emergency Management Agency, MEMA (noted above). To download the Form, please visit:  www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/state-911/e911/about-e911/disability-indicator-program.html or contact Family TIES staff for assistance.
 
The Family TIES website includes additional resources on this important topic, as well:  http://massfamilyties.org/info/ep.php  Please reach out to our staff if we can help your family to begin the planning process: 800-905-TIES (8437).


About Us
For more information please visit us at:




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LABBB Collaborative Central Office
36 Middlesex Turnpike
Bedford, Massachusetts 01730
(339) 222-5615