• In School Therapeutic Education Program
    Amy Pitucco - MMS
    Michael Zarabi - SOMS


    ISTEP (In School Therapeutic Education Program) is a new program at Maplewood Middle School that provides individual, group, and family counseling to students with significant social, emotional, and/or behavioral issues, in addition to providing consultation to and collaboration with staff members working with the student.


    If you have any questions about the program, please contact Amy via email at:  apitucco@somsd.k12.nj.us or call 973-378-7660, ext. 3021; contact Michael via email at:  mzarabi@somsd.k12.nj.us or call 973-378-2772, ext. 2135



    Anxiety is often the cause of student behavioral issues.  


    Some symptoms of anxiety in the classroom include a student becoming easily frustrated, complaining of physical pain, exhibiting fear, being easily upset by making mistakes, crying, having difficulty completing work, being inflexible, and acting irritable. Students with anxiety often complain of being exhausted toward the end of the day because they have been trying to manage their anxiety, in addition to completing schoolwork, for the entire day.


    Anxiety related behavior can appear to be erratic and unpredictable, since they teacher is not typically aware of the student's level of internal anxiety.  For example, on a day when a student is feeling calm, he/she may be able to complete work without incident.  On another day, when the student is already anxious, the same assignment may trigger an outburst.  Although triggers can be unpredictable, the following are situations that typically trigger anxiety: Unstructured times, transitions, having writing demands, working in groups, when large projects are assigned, and unexpected changes to routine.


    Students with anxiety benefit from working on skill development to manage symptoms. This typically occurs within a counseling setting, and skills can then be generalized to the classroom setting.  


    Accommodations to address anxiety in your classroom include:


    Providing movement breaks

    Allowing student to take a time out in a safe place

    Assisting student during transitions

    Breaking down large assignments or multi-step directions into smaller units

    Allowing student to use technology or scribe for writing assignments

    Allowing student to take assessments in an alternate location

    Allowing student extended time for work completion, especially after absences

    Alerting student to upcoming changes in routine

    Allowing student to work individually rather than in a group

    Avoiding calling on a student if he/she does not volunteer

    Avoiding criticism of the student


    An important intervention is developing a personal relationship with the student so that he/she feels supported and safe.

    Effective School Solutions (ESS)
    Elizabeth Kolodiy x1225
    Vanessa Boykewick X1230
    Julie Bennett X1217

    The mission of Effective School Solutions is to provide high quality and cost-effective in-district clinical services for students with emotional and behavioral problems.  The demand for specialized services for this population continues to grow, with out-of-district placements and other educational accommodations becoming a severe burden on school professionals and district budgets everywhere.  We provide innovative clinical solutions for districts seeking to increase the quality of our in-district education for students with emotional and behavioral problems.   


    The Wrap-Around Program offered at Columbia includes:

    • Weekly individual therapy
    • Family therapy
    • Monthly evening Parent Support Groups
    • Daily group therapy, including a specialized curriculum to address issues such as substance abuse, anger management, and social skills
    • School refusal interventions, including home visits
    • Lunch with our staff to avoid the stress of unstructured time in the cafeteria
    • Study Skills class led by a district faculty member with ESS as an additional support staff.