How Does Cotting Use My Gift?

Socializing Teenage Boys

A visitor to Room 219 at Cotting School within the past year would find a collection of enthusiastic teenage boys, often decked out in Boston sports gear. Andy Lindblad, who has been teaching at Cotting for many years, caters his teaching to the needs of teenage boys. “My class might have a range of academic abilities at any given time, but if the social dynamic is a good fit for the boys, I make it work.” Lindblad has a focused and steady approach to his teaching that has led to a tight, supportive “boys club.” “Social skill-building is critical in my classroom. There isn’t always a ton of confidence or social awareness with teenage boys, and building trust takes time. I want them to feel like they have friends here at school.”

Often by Lindblad’s side is one of his Program Assistants. Dave Largenton, a Program Assistant who will be starting his third year at Cotting this Fall, serves as an important compliment to Lindblad: “I don’t have to come down as hard on the boys if they get out of line, which is good role for me. I’m always looking to Andy, and the other Cotting teachers, for guidance on how to best educate our students.” Meagan Eastman, also a Program Assistant in Mr. Lindblad's classroom, has worked to develop a great balance with the students.

Lindblad’s boys have made huge strides this year, both academically and socially. They may arrive at Room 219 as classmates, but they leave as friends, which is for Lindblad a tremendous accomplishment: “With all boys in the Middle School years, a male teacher is important. I want to help them find out who they want to be.”

A gift to our annual fund ensures that teachers like Andy can continue to enhance the lives of teenage boys at Cotting, while receiving the necessary classroom support from Program Assistants like Dave.  Click here to make your gift.

Andy Lindblad

Ensuring Creativity in the Arts

You might know Bill Ironfield as the new Performing Arts teacher at Cotting School, but then again, you might not. You might have heard him on the guitar, performing with one of several local bands over the years. Perhaps you received a package from him during his bicycle messenger days, or better yet, enjoyed a Charles River tour while he worked as a gondolier. Of course, you might have crossed paths with Bill more recently as a farmer, or this past year as a Program Assistant at Cotting School.

“I wanted to do everything else before I searched for what I really wanted, and that was teaching art or music,” explains Ironfield. Special education wasn’t on his radar until he spent some time in a local afterschool program with children in grades K-5. It was his girlfriend, Annemarie, who suggested he consider working in special education because of his temperament and personality. Ironfield is ready to pair his passion for music and performing arts with his desire to teach.

Ironfield’s calm, collected, and thoughtful manner is a great fit for the Cotting community. He has an exciting outlook for his curriculum:   “My vision for the Cotting Performing Arts classes looks like a variety TV show because everyone is involved in some way. For some it’s audiovisual, for others, video, or performing, or singing. I want to ensure that everyone finds a place here.”

A gift to our annual fund ensures that Cotting students are able to learn about the performing arts from passionate teachers like Bill Ironfield, and explore, create, and find their own place in the world.  Click here to make your gift.

Bill Ironfield

Promoting Proper Nutrition

In her 11th year as Director of Food Services, Tina feels right at home in the Cotting School kitchen. “The students are amazing. They make me smile. And watching them grow up is awesome.”

Tina has done it all in the Cotting kitchen. She began her food services career here in food prep, then moved to cook, and now Director. Her experience in each role has undoubtedly prepared her to run our lunch operation.

Tina has a lot to consider in her role. Our students’ nutrition is one of many priorities during the school day. Providing a healthy variety of options that cater to students’ interests and their dietary needs is not an easy task, but one that Tina takes seriously. “We have to pay close attention to our orders to check them for allergens, and our kitchen has to be very careful with gluten-free options.”

At the same time, she embraces the challenges with grace and a smile. “We know what they like to eat, and want to them be happy, but we also want to make sure we’re offering well-balanced options.”

A gift to our annual fund ensures that Tina and her team are able to provide a healthy lunch for a wide range of students’ dietary needs.  Lunch at Cotting is more than just eating– it is an opportunity for students to practice social skills and make healthy food choices.  Click here to make your gift.

Tina, picture left, between Liz and Maria, her fellow kitchen staff members.

Tina Sousa

Enabling Quality Instruction

Sejal Costa has spend the majority of her career at Cotting School as a Middle School Teacher. Special Education, however, was not always in her plan: “I co-taught in an inclusion classroom during college, and the idea of working with students with special needs really grew on me. When I interviewed at Cotting, I realized ‘Wow, I’d have my own classroom.’ The model seemed like the right fit.”

Eleven years later, Costa has a remarkable passion for her students. “I want students in my classroom to feel empowered. I want them to know they can be independent, appropriate teenagers. And I want them to know they can learn, and that we have the tools here to help them learn,” she adds.

Costa is a critical member of a welcoming, warm community at Cotting School. She explains, “Everyone can participate here, particularly when our adaptive equipment is so accessible. Plus, our community trips allow students to get outside of Cotting, and combine curriculum content with life skills. A student is a student at Cotting School, not a disability attached to a person.”

A gift to our annual fund ensures that quality instruction, from talented individuals like Sejal, will continue and improve with each school year.  Click here to make your gift.

Sejal Costa, Teacher
Jenel posing next to Cotting Student Art

Cotting has provided me the foundation I needed

When I started at Cotting School I was eight years old, medically fragile and had challenges with learning. I had struggled with math and reading, but from the beginning I felt that Cotting was going to give me the support I needed.

Today my reading and math are pretty strong. I spent a lot of time preparing for MCAS testing, and I am proud to say I passed on my first try! I’ve taken English classes at Middlesex Community College while enrolled at Cotting. This is part of the dual enrollment option. I’ve also taken an online Math class which taught me how to work independently and push myself. I am challenged, but it is a good challenge.

Cotting School has taught me so much. I have received strong academic support and the tools to advocate for myself. As a person in a wheelchair, it is difficult to navigate outside of my home and Cotting. Attending classes at Middlesex has given me the chance to use my skills. I am still learning but Cotting has provided me the foundation I needed. My next step? I would like to attend a transitional program where I can attend college, while working on advocating and life skills.

If you’ve been kind enough to give to Cotting in the past, please consider making a donation now. You’re making a difference in my life, and in the lives of my fellow students. Thank you for your consideration.

Peter working in the Cotting library

Preparing students for the next step in their life

“What I like most about Cotting is how the students and teachers are extremely kind and friendly.” - Peter G.

Peter is a happier, more confident and more capable person as a result of his time at Cotting School. He has a social life that he didn't have before. He has friends to talk to and hang out with. Going to the prom, the three-day ski trips, and playing basketball with his ‘Falcon’ teammates, have been as important to him, and to us, as what he's learning in the classroom. We've also seen the academic progress that Peter has made, and the pride he feels, because the work is all his own. Our biggest regret was not finding Cotting sooner.

Peter's also really blossomed as a result of Cotting's community work program. He's developed such good work habits and wonderful relationships with his supervisors and co-workers. We feel that everything he has learned at Cotting is preparing him for the best possible launch into his adult life.

Garron Signature

Joan and Doug Garron
Patrick celebrates with his teammates Cotting basketball team

A sense of community, belonging, and comfort

As Patrick’s grandparents, we are tremendously thankful for the social and academic progress we have witnessed in him, a kind of growth that had not been taking place for him within his previous school setting.

Patrick has formed associations that are meaningful to him. As a result of the warmth, caring, and personalized approach of administrators, teachers, and staff, Patrick no longer feels anxious about attending school, but rather, a joy and healthy anticipation. It is heartwarming for us and other family members to hear Patrick describing new friendships and being part of various school groups. Cotting has afforded Patrick a sense of community, belonging, and comfort. Importantly, he has gained a greater self-confidence and esteem.

We are both impressed and most appreciative of the expertise and devotion that the Cotting community displays, giving Patrick and each student the opportunity to “achieve their highest learning potential and level of independence.”

As a way of showing our appreciation and support to Cotting, we recently sent a donation. We hope you will consider doing the same.

Diane DeRose and Roland DeRosa signature

Diane and Richard DeRosa