Support Services

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Support services are designed and implemented to help students reach their full potential. A continuum of services are provided through the Student Success Team and/or the school’s Planning and Placement Team (PPT).

The Student Success Team (SST) is a collaborative, school-wide team of educators, including classroom teachers, interventionists, and school-based support staff.  This team meets regularly to develop and monitor intervention plans to support students who are demonstrating limited academic or behavioral progress within the core classroom environment and curriculum. A Student Success Team (SST) team meeting may be initiated after the child’s teacher has implemented differentiated supports within the classroom environment. At a Student Success Team meeting, the child’s teacher will collaborate with school-based support staff and interventionists to develop and monitor a focused, intervention plan. Classroom teachers and/or interventionists communicate all aspects of the plan with parents/guardians.

The school’s Planning and Placement Team (PPT) works with students referred by their parents/guardians, a teacher, or the principal. Once referred, this team of specialists assesses children’s needs and if a student if found eligible under IDEA, provides specialized instruction to meet these needs in the classroom, in special classes, or in a resource room setting. The PPT includes the parent, special education teacher, classroom teacher, school counselor (secondary), appropriate related service staff members, and administrator.

Pupil Services

Special Education Instruction

The special education and general education teachers work closely together to foster learning environments that support students in their work toward attaining West Hartford's academic standards. Individual student needs are identified and programs are planned through the Planning and Placement Team (PPT). The PPT identifies students who are eligible to receive special education services and then design Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). To the maximum extent possible, students participate in the general education curriculum with supports, services, and instruction designed to allow them to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities in a variety of ways.

Lisa Garand

Special Education Teacher

My name is Lisa Garand and I am the full time Special Education Resource Teacher. I have been at Duffy since 2002 but before that I was at Bugbee Elementary. Overall, I have been teaching in West Hartford since 1999. Before West Hartford, I worked in a few different settings; a self-contained classroom, a pre-K through 2 Resource Room, a Birth to Three program and tutoring teenage parents.

I became a Special Education Teacher after getting my master’s degree in Special Education from St. Joseph’s University in 1996. I hold two bachelor degrees in Psychology and Communication Disorder. I have known for a long time that I wanted to work with children, and I found my “home” working with the special education population at the elementary level. 

I work with students who have reading, writing, and math needs in a variety of ways. I provide both in and out of the classroom supports, paraprofessional assistance when needed, as well as individualized instruction and/or alternate homework.

Duffys’ Pupil Services Team of Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Speech Pathologists, Social Workers, teachers and district specialists all work closely to support students holistically through their academic and behavioral needs by engaging in frequent communication and collaboration.

Fortunately, I get to work with many children at Duffy not just the students who are identified as having a learning difference through assessments, but those who need remedial services through the Student Success Team (SST) process. I work hard to get to know your child completely and believe that establishing a rapport to be the most critical aspect to helping students grow within a healthy trusting relationship.

I look forward to meeting each of you, should the need arise. I can be reached via email or phone message. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concern.

Elizabeth Ploof

Special Education Teacher

Speech & Language

Speech and language pathologists (SLPs) provide a variety of therapeutic services to eligible students in preschool through 12th grade. Students diagnosed with speech, language and communication disorders are provided with direct therapy in individual, small group and/or classroom settings.

Speech and language pathologists also work closely with parents and teachers in the diagnosis of speech and language disorders, academic and therapeutic planning and implementation of services. They also play a consultative role for parents and educators at all stages of the process: early intervention, pre-referral, diagnosis, and therapy. The provision of services varies based upon the individual needs of the mandated students but each school within the district is covered by one or more speech language pathologists to meet the needs of the mandated students in that school.

Students identified with language impairments (LI) receive speech and language therapy from their speech and language therapists in their neighborhood school. They often receive additional instructional support from their special education resource teacher given the integrated nature of their language and learning needs. 

Sarah Stolz

Speech and Language Pathologist

My name is Sarah Stolz, and I am a speech language pathologist at Duffy. For the past 8 years I have had the pleasure of working at the Early Learning Center preschool program in West Hartford, and before that I worked with students in grades K-12. I have a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders and Spanish, a master’s degree in speech language pathology and national certificate of clinical competency from the American Speech Hearing Association. I am thrilled for the new challenges and opportunities working here at Duffy this year will bring, and I look forward to developing partnerships with students and their families to address communication based learning needs.

In my capacity as a speech language pathologist I work with students and families to assess and provide intervention for communication deficits that have an adverse effect on students learning including articulation, fluency(stuttering), voice, understanding language, expression of language, vocabulary, grammar and social interaction skills. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with family, cooking, doing yoga and chasing after my 2 year old. Please feel free to contact me anytime with any questions you may have!

Jillian Sarnelli

Speech and Language Pathology Assistant

Jill has been working as a speech language pathology assistant for the past several years and for the past 2 years here in West Hartford at the Early Learning Center (with Sarah). A speech language pathology assistant is responsible for implementing therapy plans for students under the direction and supervision of a speech language pathologist. Jill has experience working in both elementary and preschool settings in this capacity and has a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders. She is married and enjoys spending time with her family and her cat. This year she will be supporting our students at Duffy one day/week.

Clinical Support: Social Workers/Psychologists

The WHPS Social Workers are clinicians with expertise in child and family development and an understanding of diverse cultural and social systems. Their mission is to ensure the social and emotional well-being of all students in order for them to achieve success in the educational environment and in the community. They accomplish this by providing counseling, consultation and advocacy in collaboration with school staff, families and community resources.

School psychologists provide a broad range of services to schools, students and families to support positive educational outcomes. Drawing on training in psychology and education they engage in collaborative problem solving with educators and parents to accomplish educational goals. Services include prevention and intervention planning, as well as counseling, consultation, and assessment.

Natalie Tanner

Natalie Tanner

School Psychologist

Hi, my name is Natalie Tanner and I am excited to be the school psychologist at Duffy. I am originally from New York but have worked in the Stamford and Wilton school districts prior to joining West Hartford in the Spring of 2012. I love my job and working with students and families.  In my spare time I enjoy doing yoga, zumba, learning to play tennis, and spending time with friends and family. In December 2017 I had a baby daughter and my husband and I are enjoying every minute with her.

Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy

The programs of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy are provided to mandated students. The therapist provides supportive and therapeutic services, as well as assistance through mechanized means, to students with varied physical and large and fine motor disabilities. They also include supportive services to regular classroom teachers.

Teachers of the Deaf

Teachers of the Deaf provide direct instruction and consultative services to students (Pre K-12) diagnosed with varying degrees of hearing loss. Depending on student need, the Teachers of the Deaf provide services utilizing aural/oral methods, sign language, and/or cochlear implant therapies. Services are individualized to each student's specific needs based on degree of hearing loss, mode of communication, and mainstream academic needs. These services include diagnostic testing, intense language based instruction, auditory therapy, speech production, speech reading, specialized pre-teaching and post-teaching, as well as ongoing consultation with parents and general education classroom teachers. Additional services include classroom amplification equipment, oral and sign language interpreting, accommodations/modifications in the mainstream, and consultation with audiologists and other specialists.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology Services are provided to special education students to facilitate the student's achievement and access to the general education classroom within the least restrictive environment. The PPT determines what services are appropriate for individual students. West Hartford has an Assistive Technology Consultant and an Assistive Technology Resource Team that provides consultation and support services to all levels (pre-K-12) and all disability categories.

Assistive technology is defined as any device, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. Assistive technology devices range from simple (low technology) through mid- technology tools like tape recorders, calculators, and switch -operated toys to the most sophisticated and cutting edge tools (high technology) which are purchased and/or customized. Examples of low- tech devices include straws or Velcro; high tech devices include computers or motorized wheelchairs.

Department Supervisor

Melissa Caballero

Department Supervisor of Pupil Services for Duffy, Morley, Norfeldt, and Wolcott

Additional Student Support Services


ESOL stands for English Speakers of Other Languages, it is a program for students with a language other than English at home. ESOL classes are taught in English and occur during the regular school day.West Hartford Public Schools values the diversity that our ESOL families bring to our community. Your family’s language, culture and unique experiences enrich us all. We want to work together with teachers, families and students to:

  • Welcome children and families to our Duffy community.

  • Respect and celebrate all cultures.

  • Support children in meeting grade-level expectations.

  • Helping each child reach English language proficiency in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

In West Hartford we use REACH materials that were created by National Geographic to guide our curriculum. Our curriculum was written by West Hartford ESOL to align to CCSS and grade level units. The goal is that the work done in ESL classes will support what the are doing with their classroom teacher.

ESOL and TLP services support English Language Learners in our schools. ELLs speak another language besides English in their homes. Our program's goal is to develop the language skills that are necessary for students to achieve academic success in the mainstream classroom.

The ESOL curriculum is designed to develop language skills such as vocabulary, listening, speaking, reading and writing through thematic units that are aligned with grade-level Common Core Standards. Groups are formed and scheduled based on grade level and students’ individual language proficiency and needs.

Amanda Goeller

Family Outreach Coordinator

Libba Oliver

ESOL Teacher

Katherine Prigodich

TESOL Teacher

Chalise Ross

ESOL Curriculum Specialist & Program Coordinator

Literacy Center

The Literacy Center is a regular education literacy support program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Through individual or small group instruction, our Reading Specialist and Reading Teacher provide remedial lessons in English Language Arts. The Reading Specialist collaborates with the classroom teacher to create learning objectives for students, plan daily instruction, and monitor student progress. Students are selected for Literacy Center based on assessment data, classroom performance, teacher observation, and ultimately, SST recommendation.

Literacy Center programs provide direct support in several areas of literacy.  At Duffy, every child receives quality Tier 1 reading instruction in their classroom but when children need additional support, they receive additional instruction.  After 6-8 weeks of instruction,  student progress is reviewed.  The need for reading services is determined through data obtained from the AIMsweb benchmark assessments, Bedrock sight word scores and the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). Reading services focus on one or more of the following areas:  word recognition, reading accuracy, fluency, phonics, comprehension or vocabulary.


  • An approach to reading instruction that emphasizes letter-sound relationships and generalized principles that describe spelling-sound relationships in a language (e.g. vowels in CVCs are short).  

    • Decoding:  The ability to translate a word from print to speech, usually by employing knowledge of sound symbol correspondences; also the act of deciphering a new word by sounding it out.

  • Syllable Types: There are six syllable types: 

1. Closed: cat, cobweb

2. Open: he, silo

3. Vowel-consonant-e (VCE): like, milestone

4. Consonant-l-e: candle, juggle (second syllable)

5. R-controlled: star, corner

6. Vowel pairs: count, rainbow

Word Recognition

  • The ability to recognize words quickly, accurately, and effortlessly in order to understand and enjoy what they read.  There are 4 ways that readers identify words:

    • Sight – retrieve information from memory based on prior experiences with that word

    • Decoding – sounding out letters and blending the sounds together to pronounce a word

    • Analogizing – using knowledge of a similar familiar word to identify an unknown word. For example, to read the unfamiliar word mellow, you think about how it is similar to the word yellow.

  • High Frequency Irregular Words: Words in print containing letters that stray from the most common sound pronunciation because they do not follow common phonic patterns (e.g., were, was, laugh, been).

  • High Frequency Words: A small group of words (300-500) that account for a large percentage of the words in print and can be regular or irregular words (i.e., Dolch or Fry). Often, they are referred to as “sight words” since automatic recognition of these words is required for fluent reading.


  • The language user's knowledge of words. “Vocabulary is the glue that holds stories, ideas and content together… making comprehension accessible for children.” (Rupley, Logan & Nichols, 1998/99).

  • Students’ word knowledge is linked strongly to academic success because students who have large vocabularies can understand new ideas and concepts readily.  


  • The ability to read text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression. Fluency provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension. When we read fluently, we can better focus on the meaning of the text.  

  • Repeated Reading: Rereading of text until the reader is able to read at a predetermined rate to produce fluency. You might find that your child brings the same book home over several days.  This is one form of repeated reading.


  • Understanding what one is reading, the ultimate goal of all reading activity.

  • Comprehension Monitoring: An awareness of one’s understanding of text being read. Comprehension monitoring is part of metacognition “thinking about thinking” know what is clear and what is confusing as the reader and having the capabilities to make repairs to problems with comprehension.

  • Comprehension Questions: Address the meaning of text, ranging from literal to inferential to analytical.

  • Graphic Organizers: A visual framework or structure for capturing the main points of what is being read, which may include concepts, ideas, events, vocabulary, or generalizations. Graphic organizers are helpful tools which help students organize information prior to discussing or writing about text. The structure of a graphic organizer is determined by the structure of the kind of text being read.  

Text Types

  • Informational Text: Non-fiction books, also referred to as expository text, that contain facts and information.
  • Narrative Text: A story about fictional or real events.

Nancy Dorchester

Reading Intervention Teacher

Nancy is a certified Reading and Language Arts Consultant and Remedial Reading and Language Arts Teacher K-12. She has worked for the West Hartford Public School System since 1991.

Candace Detrick

Reading Specialist

Math Support

Math support is provided to identified students in kindergarten through fifth grade. In collaboration with the Curriculum Specialist and classroom teachers, our tutor works to support students’ growth in mathematics. Through individual or small group instruction, the math tutor provides additional learning experiences, remedial instruction, or enrichment activities to meet the needs of individual students. Students are selected for Math Support based on assessment data, classroom performance, teacher observation, and ultimately, SST recommendation.


The mission of the QUEST Program is to ensure that students have an opportunity to develop their unique gifts and talents by creating a learning environment that encourages students to:

Q uestion the world around them

nderstand the need to learn and grow

xplore the past, present, and future

earch for solutions and meanings

hink creatively and critically

A student centered program, QUEST is founded on the principles of the Enrichment Triad Model (Renzulli, 1977) and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (Renzulli and Reis, 1985). The program supports National and State Standards in Education, and is guided by a well developed Scope and Sequence of skill training activities tailored to participating students as they progress toward the excitement of independent discovery through research, diligence, and creative productivity.

Math QUEST provides opportunity for students to interpret ideas through numbers, ideas, and words, and make them meaningful through the process of analyzing information and/or evaluating predictive solutions. Students participate in an environment that cultures creative problem solving and thought.

Through progressively more complex problem solving, text and interest, mathematical tasks are applied according to the greater than two+ years beyond skill level of modification of mathematical application according to pacing and instruction of previously mastered skills. Math QUEST is focused on responding to students’ academic needs to assure the appropriate level of challenge. Math QUEST testing for eligible third and fourth graders occurs in the spring. 

Christopher Kueffner

Quest Teacher at Duffy and Webster Hill Schools

Duffy: 860-521-0110 Ext. 3027

Webster Hill: 860-521-0320 Ext. 3405


RISE, or Raising Instructional Success for Everyone, is Duffy’s framework that provides time in our daily schedule for teachers and support staff to work with small groups of students on a clearly identified learning goal. Groupings of students are flexible and change every six to eight weeks as learning goals are met and new needs are identified.