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.

Meghan Ignaffo

Special Education Teacher

Jacquelyn Maguire

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. 

Jessica Vazquez

Speech and Language Teacher

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.

Luis Ramirez

Social Worker
  • Graduated from High School in 1989 (Berlin High School)
  • Served in United States Army Reserves from 1989-1995
  • Graduated from University of Connecticut (B.S. in education in 1995)
  • Graduated from University of Connecticut (M.S.W. in 2003)
  • Worked for The Bridge Family Center from 2003-2008
  • School Social Worker for WHPS since 2008 Worked at KP from 2008-2010
  • School Social Worker for Smith from 2010-present
  • WHPS Teacher of the Year 2017-2018 

"People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care" - Theodore Roosevelt

I am born first generation Cuban American and I have 2 sisters, Lisa and Alexis. I live with my wife, Laura and 2 children, Grace and Cooper. When I'm not in school I am a loyal and passionate sports fan and I enjoy spending time with friends and family. My favorite teams are the NY Yankees, the Miami Dolphins, the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins and United States Soccer (both men and women). I also enjoy playing competitive darts and have been a member of the Greater Hartford Dart League for the last 15 yrs. I also enjoy coaching my son's soccer team, cheering on my daughter's travel soccer team, and vacationing with my family during the summer. I am also a huge music fan of many different genres and enjoy going to concerts. I am blessed and fortunate to work at Smith with so many wonderful students, families and teachers.

Diane Horan

School Psychologist

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 Cook

Department Supervisor of Pupil Services for Early Learning Centers, Bugbee, Smith STEM, and Whiting Lane

Additional Student Support Services


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.

Ann Graboski

ESOL Teacher

Hello! I am so excited to be the new English as a Second Language teacher here at Smith! I have been teaching at Smith since 2005. Most of those years were spent as a kindergarten teacher- a position I loved! I am looking forward to working with many different students and families this year in my new role. When I'm not at school, you might find me running or hiking, eating Indian food, tending my plants or daydreaming about dogs and tropical destinations!

Amy Little

ESOL Teacher

Leslie Morin

ESOL Teacher

Silvia Lopes

ESOL Teacher

Reading Support

The Reading Specialists and Reading Intervention teachers support students, families, teachers, and administrators with expertise to improve literacy achievement in Kindergarten-Grade 5 classrooms. They are integral members of school-based Student Success Teams (SST) who plan and monitor literacy supports for students in all grades. Reading intervention staff plan and implement scientific research-based literacy intervention instruction for Grade K-5 students who require additional support to meet grade level expectations. These professionals administer formal and informal assessments to elementary students throughout the year. They are responsible for monitoring and communicating progress with classroom teachers, families, and additional support staff on an on-going basis. Reading Specialists and Reading Intervention teachers collaborate with classroom teachers and provide professional learning support to meet students’ literacy needs within the classroom setting.

Mary Richardson

Reading Intervention Teacher

Jennifer Schiffer

Reading Specialist


Mrs. Hardesty has been teaching at Smith STEM School for 20 years. She was originally employed as an Engineer at Otis Elevator Company and loves to bring engineering excitement to her students. Mrs. Hardesty has brought many projects to Smith including FLL LEGO Robotics, the launching of a weather balloon and Kid Witness News.

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. 

Extra Practice


Katherine Hardesty

Norfeldt: 860-233-4421 Ext. 3257

Smith STEM: 860-236-3315 Ext. 3331

Whiting Lane: 860-233-8541 Ext. 3548