Special Education


    Special Education Department

    Mary Alice Hipwell, Director of Special Education mhipwell@mechanicville.org, (518) 664-7336 x2503
    Suzanne LeForestier, CPSE/CSE Chairperson/School Psychologist -Grades 6-12 (518) 664-7336 x2405
    Julian Santos, CSE Chairperson/School Psychologist - Grades K-5 jsantos@mechanicville.org
    Lynn Dorr, 504 Coordinator/School Social Worker - Grades K-12 (518) 664-7336 x2404 MJSHS) x2505 (Elem)
    Sandra Reilly, Special Education Secretary. sreilly@mechanicville.org (518) 664-7336x2503

    Help in Understanding Common Core and Its Effect on an IEP

    For a memorandum on resources to assist parents with understanding the Common Core and how an IEP should support a student's progress toward the Common Core Standards go to:



    Definitions for parents of special education children

    There are a lot of terms, acronyms and jargon that is specific to the special education world. Behind the terms, though, is important information about things that will impact your child's education. Please take some time to familiarize yourself with some of these terms. They may help you later. 

     Click here to visit a dictionary of terms that are common to Special Education. 

    Unified Sports brings out the best in Mechanicville players

    This month, members of Mechanicville’s Unified Sports basketball team start practicing for their six-game regular season in May. The team consists of regular and special education players from the junior/senior high school — players who are interested in a competitive season where participation and teamwork are as important as the score of each game.



    This is the second year Mechanicville has offered Unified Sports. The program was implemented by Special Education Director Rose Ann Bradley at the request of Dr. Michael J. McCarthy, Superintendent of Schools. Bradley was assisted by Lynne Door, the school social worker, and special education teacher Colleen Sullivan.  


    This year, the area Unified Sports coaches and school athletics directors are citing Mechanicville as an example of a successful program. 


    Getting the program up and running, though, was a struggle. Dorr, Sullivan and Bradley were going into the hallways to actively recruit students at Mechanicville Junior/Senior High School.


    “The initial implementation was a lot of work,” Bradley said, giving credit to Dorr and Sullivan for their efforts. Sullivan became the team’s coach while Dorr fostered the creation of the Youth Activation Committee (YAC), which is an extension of the Special Olympics of New York. As the YAC advisor, Dorr recruited student members to develop “unified” activities and support the Unified team.  


    Then the first game came, pitting the new Mechanicville team against Ballston Spa. Things didn’t look good at the end of the first half.


    “We were getting crushed,” Sullivan recalled. “It was 40-something to two.”


    “I was in the crowd and I kept thinking, ‘These kids are never going to want to play again,’” Bradley said. During halftime, she jumped up and made her way down to the bench, expecting to find the team despondent and disheartened.


    “They didn’t even care,” she said with a laugh. “They said ‘Hey did you see me out there?’ They were so excited.”


    The first game was a blow-out; though Mechanicville made up some ground in the second half, the final score was 57-17.


    Far from wanting to quit, though, members of the team recounted their moments of glory to each other after the game and were excited for their next matchup.


    “We only won one game last year, but every bus ride home the kids were singing and laughing,” Sullivan said. For the rest of the season, the scores were much closer — usually within a few points — but it still didn’t matter to the players.


    “They didn’t care about the score. They cared about how many minutes they’d played,” Sullivan said.


    “Our team really had the spirit of sportsmanship last year and Colleen was the reason for that,” Bradley said.


    And the impact on the students was profound, Sullivan and Bradley said.


    “It wasn’t just about school. It changed their personal lives, too,” Sullivan said.


    One student, Joe Pignatelli, joined the team not knowing what to expect. Once he became a part of the team, though, he embraced it.


    “Joey was a leader on the team and a spokesperson for the Special Olympics by the end of the season,” Bradley said.


    In fact, Bradley and Pignatelli were recently asked to speak at a panel discussion at the New York State Athletic Administrators Association annual conference in Saratoga Springs about the benefits of the Unified Sports program. Pignatelli’s mother, Roxanne, also attended the conference and was asked to be part of the panel.


    “Joe and his mother talked about the ways Unified Sports changed his life,” Bradley said. “It was touching. People looked like they were going to cry.”


    After the panel, athletic administrators from around the state lined up to get a chance to talk to Pignatelli and pat him on the back. Since then, he has been invited to speak about the Special Olympics.


    “I felt so happy for him that this could change him that much,” Bradley said.


    This year, the team can’t wait to get started.


    “The first week of school players were walking up to me asking ‘Can we start practicing now?’” Sullivan said. 


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