Danbury native, DHS grad appointed

Danbury native, DHS grad appointed Assistant Director of Special Education
Posted on 09/29/2021

Danbury native, DHS grad appointed Assistant Director of Special Education

DANBURY, CONN. — Working at Danbury Public Schools for 20 years isn’t the only thing Crystal Taft has to celebrate. Taft, a Danbury High School graduate, was recently appointed the district’s Assistant Director of Special Education.

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in speech and a Master of Arts in learning disabilities from Northwestern University, the Danbury native started as a special education teacher at Great Plain School working in a self-contained program for students with emotional disturbances and behavioral challenges. She was then promoted to Special Services Facilitator, facilitating PPTs and coaching staff before moving up to Special Education Supervisor for the district’s middle schools. Responsibilities in her newest position include supporting the director in overseeing the department districtwide.

“In this capacity, I will be able to support administration, staff and students at all levels to do what is in the best interest of our students,” she said.

For Taft, who also earned an Administrative Certification from Sacred Heart University, special education is defined as specially designed instruction that meets unique learning needs of students identified with disabilities, allowing them to perform to their fullest potential. Approximately 15 percent of the student population is identified as having special needs.

“Our enrollment for children with special needs has increased significantly over the past four years, as well as the complexity of their needs,” Taft said. “These needs include, but are not limited to significant cognitive, physical and medical impairments. Danbury has done a really good job of providing tailored programs to meet the needs of an array of disabilities and abilities. We have a continuum of services that are implemented in our most restrictive, self-contained programs, to our least restrictive environment, servicing students in the general education population for the majority of their day.”

Taft said the job of educators since the pandemic hit in 2020 is to focus on student engagement, a particular challenge for students with special needs. The special education teams from each school work with each other to problem solve and develop strategies that will support student engagement and learning.

“Even though we are back in school full time five days a week, we still are transitioning students into an environment they haven’t been in in 18 months,” Taft said. “We have strong emphasis on meeting the social and emotional needs of our students, and by stabilizing this component, students will be more engaged and available for learning. Our staff is committed to supporting this work, always keeping the students’ best interest in the forefront.”

One of the best things about working in Danbury schools for Taft is that everyone gives of themselves for the betterment of the students. Educating and caring for students are a first priority, despite the many challenges of a large school district.

“Danbury has very limited funding and resources,” Taft said. “I really feel that we have a strong team of educators, personnel staff and administrators who are innovative, resourceful and go above and beyond to meet students’ needs.”

#Danbury Board of Education#