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Student Services Director thrives in role

Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden has shared that Director of Student Services Mary Bruhl is thriving in her first year as the head of the district's special education, school health services and guidance departments.

"We have been very impressed with Mary's work so far and she has implemented and overseen a lot of fantastic improvements in the different departments she oversees throughout the school year," Superintendent Marsden said. "Her position was held by a couple of interim directors over the past few years. So having someone who can come in and bring more stability and structure to the position, as Mary has, has been a benefit to all of our students and their families."

One of Bruhl's primary focuses this year has been improving on the overall communication of the departments she oversees and working to create uniform policies and protocols at each of the schools and district-wide.

"One of my primary tasks was looking at the departments as a whole and trying to see how we could streamline supports for students and ensure that the process was feeling collaborative to all, including staff and families," Bruhl said. "We wanted to open the lanes of communication so that students are first and foremost and we are making sure that all students can be successful and thrive no matter their situation. On a broader scale, we also want students going from one school to another to have the same support throughout their time at Medfield Schools and we want to be consistent from building to building and ensure that our overall communication - with students, parents and staff - is consistent as well."

Part of opening the lanes of communication with parents included adding important contact information for each of the schools on the district website's Student Services page. Each school has its own downloadable PDF with email addresses and phone numbers of important administrators and staff including, guidance counselors, school psychologists, special education teachers and school nurses.

In addition, Bruhl also started a monthly blog where she provides updates about what is going on in the world of Student Services at Medfield Schools.

Several events have been held for parents throughout the school year to get them more involved in the process.

Another area of focus for Bruhl has been making sure that the district is in compliance with all state and federal mandates when it comes to special education, student civil rights and English Learner Education.

Last spring, the district underwent its Coordinated Program Review by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). All school districts in the state must undergo this mandatory review every six years to ensure that they are in compliance with state education standards and requirements.

Beginning in September, after receiving DESE's final program review report, the district was given one year to implement the recommendations and mandates made in the report.

Bruhl has worked with district administration, the school committee and other committees to address the changes that needed to be made found in the report throughout the school year. Thus far, the district has passed all of its progress reports to the state and has two more progress reports remaining.

"The best thing has been the level of support and commitment across the board, from students to families to staff, everyone wants what's best for the students and everyone is willing to go the extra mile," Bruhl said. "These mandates help us to look at each students' access to programming, ability to access all aspects of the educational day and how we can provide equal access for all students."

Bruhl, who was formerly a Special Education Team Leader at Dedham Middle School and Dedham High School, has enjoyed her time in Medfield thus far and said she has been impressed by the level of support she has received from administrators, staff, parents and community members.

"It’s been a really great year so far and there is still more work to do to make sure all of our students are successful," Bruhl said.

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