• Norfolk SEPAC

March 2020 Parent Newsletter

Updated: 4 days ago

Inside this Issue

  • A Special Message to our Norfolk Families from Dr. Anna Eberwin-Tupper

  • Parent Education: Resources for talking with your children about recent events and changes they are experiencing and ideas for easing the impact that social distancing can have on families where routine, structure, and community support are crucial.

  • Winter 2020 Update and new SEPAC Partnerships with other Norfolk Organizations!

  • SEPAC Book of the Month: A new and exciting partnership with the Norfolk Public Library as well as a new book suggestion for families !

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A Special Message

From the home office of Dr. Anna Eberwein-Tupper, Director of Student Support Services at Norfolk Public Schools

Dear Friends,

I hope you are faring well during this unparalleled time. Parents are the first and greatest teachers....and your multifaceted role will continue to stretch and grow during this period. "It is often in the trial of adversity that we learn those most critical lessons that form our character and shape our destiny." Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Let the learning continue both from the lens of students, from the lens of parents, and from the lens of educators...

As for the Tupper's...both college students are home. The dining room is UMass Amherst University and the third floor, Roger Williams University. As you saw in my morning message on Wednesday, all of the pets are home including our bunny Sir Chesterfield and our spotted gecko, Mr. Bo. I have consigned to ordering baby chicks...bring on the project based learning and may it continue strong (sigh and yay in the same breath)!

Speaking of learning for students...I hope you have been able to successfully access the District's "Optional Enrichment Calendar." I also hope you were able to access technology through the District if requested. If you have issues with either, please reach out to myself, your principal, or a special education provider. Any of these individuals will support you with accessing either the enrichment learning calendar or a technology device. Our school building is closed, but teachers, administrators, and support staff continue to prepare learning and serve as a resource during this time - email, send a video, or call with questions or concerns. We are here for you!

Finally, I am participating in more statewide conversation later this week and will provide you with an update by early next week. To date, our state guidance has been around providing enrichment materials and resources to all students. I understand there may be frustration around this guideline as it relates to the needs of special education students and appreciate your patience and support as we work to advocate for your children and our students, during this unprecedented period of time. Feel free to reach out with questions...they help to elevate practice.

To close, I'd like to share one of my favorite quotes so far and adapted a bit by me: "School is NOT closed for the year. The building is. If you listen closely you can hear the hum of hard working parents, teachers, administrators, and support staff preparing to save the day in ways and means never seen before. Yes, we are brokenhearted, but these broken hearts will lead." Peyton Anderson

We miss the smiles and sounds of children ringing through the hallways yet, we will continue to lead the way and forge new territory to support learning. Pioneers! Please give your children a hug for us!

I wish you all good health.


Parent Education

With so much information being shared, discussed, and watched daily about current events it is hard to filter the right amount of information to our children and help them process it appropriately. It is challenging to help them become comfortable with an environment that can feel uncertain and is changing quickly. Also, many children thrive on the routine of a classroom and can feel very uncomfortable with shifts in that routine, particularly when the alternative may feel confining and isolating. We have compiled some resources that may help you overcome these challenges and ease into this transition of time spent at home as you practice social distancing.

Resources for children about the Coronavirus /COVID-19

  • Brains On Podcast: Discusses what the Coronavirus /COVID-19 is and how viruses spread (released March 10, 2020). There are also many other Brains On science-based episodes that might be of interest during the school break at this site!

  • Article on how to talk to children about Coronavirus: Click Here!

  • National Public Radio Audio story for kids, plus printable comic strip: Click Here!

  • Free, printable social story about the Coronavirus: Click Here!

Resources for encouraging a smooth transition into an extended period of time at home

Set a Schedule

Experts suggest establishing a visual schedule for children that mirrors what they might see at school. This example emphasizes getting outside, having structured academic time, and working together to keep common areas germ free.

(Credit to Jessica McHale Photography for this excellent graphic!)

Do Academic work both on and off electronics

Many children require practice to sustain skills they learn during the school year and long breaks can make sustaining growth difficult. While at home, integrate some fun and structured ways to practice skills your children may need using these resources below.

  • Many of our children are familiar with the apps on the Student Start Page on the Norfolk Public Schools website. There are lots of fun apps and games for kids to practice everything from math facts to typing! Also, of course, continue to use the Enrichment Calendars and resources provided by the amazing Norfolk Administration and Teaching staff.

  • Amazing Educational Resources is a Facebook Group dedicated to providing resources for online learning during these weeks of school shut down. Join the Facebook group here. Check out a growing list of online learning resources compiled by this group:

  • Bring academics into your daily life! Baking, measuring, science experiments, treasure walks, sensory bowls, and even making slime can be turned into ways to integrate math, reading, science, and writing into daily routines.

  • Accessible Chef is a collection of free visual recipes and other resources to help teach cooking skills to individuals with disabilities:

  • GoNoodle® engages 14 million kids every month with movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. Available for free at school, home, and everywhere kids are!

  • Day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.

Read! Read! Read!

  • The Norfolk Library may be closed but their online access is not! Visit and sign in with your library card to access thousands of e-books, audiobooks and more.

  • Check out for a list of parent and child-focused books on many related topics including the ones below.

  • Choose a series or a chapter book to read and set a goal to get through one book per week during the school shut-down period. Younger elementary school children can follow simple chapter books and older children still love to be read to!

SEPAC Book of the Month

Norfolk SEPAC Library Display and Book List

In addition to highlighting a book of the month, we are happy to announce that beginning this month, the Norfolk SEPAC will be partnering with the Norfolk Public Library to obtain and feature our monthly SEPAC Book of the Month! Stop by the NPL to check out our new SEPAC display!

Book of the Month

The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules

By Jennifer Cook O'Toole

Being a teen or tween isn't easy for anyone -- but it's especially tough for Asperkids. I know. I was one, I taught a whole bunch, and I am going to be raising three! That's also why I know that Asperkids deserve their very own guide to all of the hidden social rules that are awfully confusing to us, even if they seem obvious to everyone else. "The Asperkids' (Secret) Rule Book of Social Rules." This isn't your momma's Emily Post, and there is no "don't do this" finger-wagging or patronizing "high and mighty preaching" here. Instead, the "Secret" Book gives Asperkids (aged 10-17) respectful, funny insights written "for Aspies by an Aspie." Chock full of illustrations, logic and even a practice session or six (in comic strip style, thank you very much!), this is the handbook every adult Aspie wishes we'd had growing up, but never did.

Winter 2020 Update

We were busy this winter! Since the holidays our SEPAC team hosted multiple events for parents and students in Norfolk.

We are also thrilled to announce that we have begun partnering with the Norfolk Lions, the Norfolk Community League and the Norfolk Public Library to build awareness and support inclusion for all families in the community and during multiple popular Norfolk events this year!

SEPAC Winter 2020 Event Summary:

Social Skills Parent Training

During three Monday evenings in January and February, 15 families joined us and Dr. Carolyn Kuehnel for an in-depth training on how to support social skill development for children who experience social interactions differently and may struggle to interpret social cues, respond appropriately, and build meaningful relationships. This support-group style workshop allowed parents to support each other by sharing stories, suggestions, and resources during 3 evening sessions where Dr. Kuehnel shared insight and specific steps to teach skills such as:

  • Slipping In and Out of conversations

  • Handling Embarrassing Feedback

  • Addressing Bullying

Music and Art Therapy with Mr. Ken DoRosario -

Many of Norfolk's younger students have had the lucky experience to learn and sing with Ken DoRosario MT-BC (aka "Mr. Ken") during preschool and Kindergarten at HOD. This winter, Norfolk SEPAC partnered with Mr. Ken to make his specialties - Music and Art Therapy - available to all ages of Norfolk students.

A special Thank You goes out to the administration and staff at both the H. Olive Day and Freeman-Kennedy Schools for their support, supplies, and logistical help that made all four of these these events hugely successful!

  • Music Therapy - In music therapy our younger students learned to say "hello" in many languages, throw and catch scarves to music, and follow directions in a group while singing many fun and familiar songs! Our older student used hand drums to learn how to listen with their whole bodies, come together as a team to create sound, and interact with each other through music.

  • Art Therapy - Our older students also got a chance to express themselves artistically through artistic self portraits and work as a team to create an artistic masterpiece.

Scroll to the right on the photo below to check out some photos from Mr. Ken's events!

Mark Your Calendars for these Upcoming Events!

**Please note that our spring events have been posponed and we will follow guidance provided by the CDC and town officials with regard to rescheduling. Please check back on our website for regular updates on scheduled events.**

Monthly SEPAC General Meetings **Our meetings with the general public have been postponed until further notice.**

Event Description: Join the SEPAC Board for our last two informal meetings to discuss upcoming programming, volunteer for event committees, or get information about how to be involved! We meet on the first Tuesday of every month and all meetings are open to the public!

Location / Time* Norfolk Public Library 2 Liberty Lane Community Room

7:00 p.m *

Upcoming Meeting Dates -

**Please check for status updates on these meetings**

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 (Combined with Workshop: Role of the SEPAC, see details below) Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - Bi-Annual Election of SEPAC Board Members

Managing Anxiety in School Aged Children

**Event Postponed to Fall 2020**

Join Norfolk SEPAC and Dr. Nadja Reilly for a presentation on managing anxiety in school aged children. Dr. Reilly will be discussing many topics including providing insight for parents on identifying signs of anxiety in children, tactical activities that parents can do at home to support children with anxiety, and an overview of community resources for families.


Date: To be Rescheduled, October 2020

Time and Location TBD

Federation for Children with Special Needs Workshop:

Role of a SEPAC

Presented by the Federation for Children with Special Needs. Special Education Parent Advisory Councils are district-level, parent-driven groups that provide input into the local school district on system-level challenges in special education. This FREE workshop defines the specific role of SEPACs under Massachusetts law, but also discusses how SEPACs can support families. Also included will be a "Basic Toolkit" for starting and running a SEPAC! All are welcome to join us.

Location / Time - April 7, 2020 (Please check our website for updates on whether this event will be held virtually, or postponed until Fall 2020).

Delivery Details To Be Determined 7:00 p.m *

Our Mission

The Norfolk Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) strives to collaborate with and advise the school committee and administration to continually improve the education opportunities for all children in and outside of our school district. We promote improved education and success for students with disabilities, ensuring they receive equal access to education opportunities within our school and community. The Norfolk SEPAC provides a network for parents of children with disabilities to access resources, gain support, and share ideas. SEPAC encourages families to be involved in all district policy discussions.

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