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  Spring Harbor Hospital News

Spring Harbor's Senior Psychologist Recognized for Leadership & Commitment to the Needs of Students with Disabilities
Bruce Chemelski Named Special Education Therapist of the Year

Bruce Chemelski, Ph.D., Senior Psychologist of the Developmental Disorders Program at Spring Harbor Hospital and Clinical Director of Spring Harbor Academy, will be honored with the Special Education Therapist of the Year for 2012 award by the Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC).  The award will be presented at MADSEC's Annual Awards Dinner on June 25 in Bangor, Maine.

 Dr. Chemelski has spent most of his life working with and advocating for individuals with significant disabilities.  This award recognizes his long career as “one who has demonstrated a leadership role in support of students with disabilities” in Maine. His work has had an impact on hundreds of the state’s students and their families. His training and interest in students with diagnoses on the autism spectrum led him to make this population the focus of his clinical work.

As Senior Psychologist of the Developmental Disorders Program at Spring Harbor, Dr. Chemelski leads the team that develops individualized behavioral intervention plans.  According to Dr. Matthew Siegel, the Medical Director of the Developmental Disorders Program, Dr. Chemelski and his team produce “highly individualized, creative and interdisciplinary behavior plans for children—more than 90 a year. These therapeutic interventions are responsible for much of the progress these children make, in the hospital and at home.”

Dr. Chemelski was instrumental in establishing Spring Harbor Academy, the special-purpose school that serves children (K-12) who are hospitalized in the Developmental Disorders unit.  According to Jane Sawyer, Special Education Administrator of Spring Harbor Academy, Dr. Chemelski has been “a driving force in this program since its inception and contributes long hours to assuring its integrity.”

As Clinical Director of Spring Harbor Academy, Dr. Chemelski oversees a staff that serves students in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, where each student receives developmentally appropriate educational programming while a patient in the hospital. Spring Harbor Academy is licensed by the Maine Department of Education. 

His colleagues, both at Spring Harbor and throughout the state, enthusiastically praise Dr. Chemelski’s accessibility, dedication, and talent, as well as his ability to provide students who are vulnerable and challenging with quality educational programs and services. One example of Dr. Chemelski’s incredible dedication is his willingness to work in partnership with each child's home school to ensure the student's successful transition after leaving the hospital.

 “What makes Dr. Chemelski’s work at Spring Harbor so remarkable is that he and his team have totally transformed the inpatient experience,” stated Dr. Tim Rogers, a psychologist who was a partner with Dr. Chemelski at Eastern Maine Counseling and Testing Services, Inc., for more than ten years, and has continued to work with him throughout his career. “Now there is a team of professionals well versed in developmental disabilities who communicate with the outpatient team and family. The family is heavily engaged during the child’s hospital stay, and community providers are welcomed to participate in team meetings. At discharge, a complete summary of the child’s stay is provided. The inpatient team even provides the community team with behavior plans, social stories, coping boards and other critical materials that are extremely supportive of the child’s re-integration. I cannot overstate how important this change is. Through Dr. Chemelski’s efforts, the outcomes for our children with developmental disabilities have greatly improved.”                                  

The organization honoring Dr. Chemelski, MADSEC, believes in and advocates for the right of all students to receive a free and appropriate public education. In addition to providing support for its members and training for Maine educators, MADSEC plays a leadership role in shaping policies and practices which impact the quality of education for children with disabilities.

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