DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – After a shuffling through 80 resumes and screening eight applicants, the Dobbs Ferry School District hired a new special education director. Erin Vrendenburgh began working over the summer and said she is eager to improve the lives of Dobbs Ferry students.
“My goals are to improve students achievement levels, improve programming and better integrate technology,” Vrendenburgh said.
Previously, she spent four years as the special education coordinator for the Hyde Park Central School District, which was much different from Dobbs Ferry, she said. In Hyde Park, Vrendenburgh oversaw more than 400 students with disabilities in a district of 4,000 students. Lisa Brady, district superintendent, credits Vrendenburgh’s experience and educational philosophy as key reasons for her compatibility with Dobbs Ferry.
“Erin is an outstanding professional who shares our inclusive philosophy and has the energy, enthusiasm and passion to build on the excellent services currently being provided for students with disabilities,” Brady said in a statement. “Her educational background and experience dovetails specifically with the needs of individual learners and the needs of our community.”
Doug Berry, district director of curriculum, agreed. “Ms. Vrendenburgh’s vision is consistent with ours and she is skillful at seeking out new approaches to old challenges,” Berry said in the statement.
The main difference in Dobbs Ferry, compared with Hyde Park, is the inclusive nature of the special education program, Vrendenburgh said. Special education and general education students are taught together in the same classroom with two teachers.
“We have one general education teacher and one special education teacher in the classroom co-planning the curriculum to benefit all students,” Vrendenburgh said. “The lessons are differentiated to meet the needs of our highest learners and lowest learners.”
Vrendenburgh said she is getting acclimated. “It’s really just understanding the culture and climate of not only the schools, but the community,” she said. “Students perform very high here, so I’m focused on strengthening good teaching to great teaching.”