By Barry Warner
Rockland BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) delivers educational programs for students with special needs, teens interested in career and technical training, adult learners preparing for new opportunities, and educators seeking to upgrade their professional skills.
Dr. Mary Jean Marsico, Chief Operating Officer with 26 years of experience at Rockland BOCES said, “The tentacles of BOCES is rooted in the community and we believe in the intrinsic values of all learners and it is our responsibility to help them ‘realize their dreams’. We have a great staff here and we stand by our commitment to provide quality leadership and instructional excellence. Students achieve their maximum potential with programs that offer academic instruction, therapeutic support and wraparound community services.”
One of 37 BOCES across New York State, Rockland BOCES serves 8 component public school districts with a combined student population of approximately 40,000. Collaborative partnerships are developed with local community and government agencies, small businesses, trade unions and post-secondary institutions to prepare students who are college and career-ready. The professional and career-education programs, student internships and workplace training translate into a sustainable local workforce.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Rockland County Times, Dr. Marsico spoke about Special Education, Family Resource Centers, The Family Resource Center Foundation, Wraparound Services, The Partnership for Safe Youth, Hudson Valley P-Tech, Career and Technical Education (CTE), Project Search, Adult Education and Business Services, Instructional Services and Professional Development and Itinerant or Visiting Services.
. Special Education-At the Jesse J. Kaplan School in West Nyack, students aged 8-21 with Autism and/or intellectual disabilities reach their potential in a stimulating environment featuring a Board Certified Behavior Analyst staff, integrated academics, nursing services and therapies. At the Hilltop School in Haverstraw, students in grades K-8 have a program focused on literacy, academics, social and emotional achievements. Intensive PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) is used to decrease disruptions, increase instructional time, improve student social behavior and academic outcomes. DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is used for emotion regulation, distress tolerance and mindfulness. Mindfulness may be understood as the state in which one becomes more aware of one’s physical, mental and emotional condition in the present moment. The River View Alternative High School in Nyack provides intensive academic and therapeutic supports for students whose social, emotional and learning needs require an individual approach in a traditional setting.
. BOCES Family Resource Centers (FRC) are located within 2 of the schools and serve as a core for ‘wraparound services’ for the families. Staff and families can refer to the FRC to access needed support programs which include academic, social and enrichment activities plus workshops on a variety of topics important to BOCES families. Community partners include The Mental Association of Rockland and Westchester Counties and the Rockland 21st Century Collaborative for Children and Youth.
. The Family Resource Center Foundation (FRCF) supports the FRCs and offers an array of programs and events for Rockland BOCES students and their parents. For further information about events contact the Family Resource Center Foundation at 845-627-4708.
. According to an NEA Policy Brief, full-service community schools seek to remove barriers to student success by locating, partnering, collaborating, coordinating and helping students access comprehensive ‘wraparound services’ from local service providers that complement and are aligned with effective instruction. These services can include primary health, mental health, dental care, academic enrichment, mentoring, summer programming, family support and parent education.
. The Partnership for Safe Youth incorporates 5 county offices (Department of Social Services, Probation, Mental Health, the District Attorney’s Office and Rockland BOCES) to provide coordinated services to youth and families involved in the social services, criminal and justice, mental health and educational systems.
. Hudson Valley P-Tech is an integrated 6-year STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program, where students earn an associates degree, which combines high school and college academics, professional mentorships and career training.
. The Career and Technical Education (CTE) program provides students with the opportunity to graduate high school with college credits, technical experience, professional skills and industry certification in high-skill, high-demand fields. Studies include certified automotive technology, construction trades academy, welding courses, a new fire-safety program plus TV/video and media production. Two million dollars in scholarships have been awarded to graduates for post-secondary studies.
. Project Search is a program involving the Rockland Business Association (RBA) that is based at Good Samaritan Hospital for students in their last year of school, whose main goal is employment and who can be successful in an integrated work setting. It is offered in collaboration with Good Samaritan Hospital and The Rockland County Association for Learning Disabilities. For instance, interns rotate among a variety of work sites within the Hospital and support is provided in the form of accommodation, adaptation and on-the-job coaching.
. The Adult Education and Business Services Program’s mission is to assure that Rockland County adult learners acquire the skills, knowledge and abilities necessary to become productive workers, effective parents and contributing members of their communities. For instance adults can take the ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) course to learn to speak, read, write and understand English through classes that build confidence and job-ready skills. Also, review courses can help adults to prepare for a number of certification and licensing exams.
. For more than 5,000 teachers and school leaders, staff conferences and resources are designed to enhance student achievement with an emphasis on college and career readiness. Workshops are focused on the integration of 21st century skills in ‘highly effective’ classrooms, plus K-12 standard-based curricula in ELA (English Language Arts) and math.
. To help schools operate safely and efficiently, Rockland BOCES delivers more than $88 million in shared services to the 8 component public school districts in Rockland County each year that include transportation, health and safety plus school communication.
. The Visiting or Itinerant Services provided by Rockland BOCES to the 8 component Rockland County school districts include Special Education Teachers and Teaching Assistants, Psychologists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Educational Interpreters, Teachers of the hearing impaired and Teachers of the Visually Impaired.
. For additional information access www.rocklandboces.org or call (845) 348-3500.