The North Colonie Central School District welcomed new Director of Pupil Personnel Services Dave Semo in July, and with the beginning of the school year approaching, Semo said he hopes to spend his time helping the district continue the great programs and services it has in place for special education students.
This year will be Semo's fourth year with the district. Prior to his new role, Semo served as the assistant director of pupil personnel services.
He came to the district after working for over 12 years in the Galway Central School District, the town he still lives in, in various positions, including social worker and director of pupil services. His two-fold mission at Galway is much the same at North Colonie.
The first part of his mission, he said, is to help ensure that special education students are included in all aspects of their education. There are about 700 special education students in the North Colonie Central School District, he said. To the district, it is important to keep the special education students included so that they do not feel the need to seek education elsewhere.
We're educating students in their home school in their home community, he said.
The other part of Semo's mission is to continue the strong programs the district has received a reputation for having.
"[We] try to mainstream very strong programs that meet a wide variety of needs," he said.
Some of these services include crisis therapeutic intervention; introduction programs where the class will be introduced to the special education student and their disabilities as to better understand how to work with the student; and "buddy" programs where special education students can buddy up with other students who help them throughout the school year.
Shaker High School Principal Richard Murphy said it is programs like these that "unify the district."