Nysha Recent News

Spending Summer Time with a Beloved Teacher and Classmates at Round Top

Hamaspik of Orange County’s Men’s Day Hab Visits Countryside Complex


Everyone remembers the kids they went to school with.


And the teachers who taught them.


For individuals with various disabilities, that’s all the more true—what with many of them boasting phenomenally atypical memories that trounce everyone else’s by their sheer magnitude.


But for many of the young men supported daily by Hamaspik of Orange County’s Day Habilitation (Day Hab) program, those childhood school memories include one specific school and one specific paraprofessional.


For those young men, born-and-bred natives of Orange County’s Village of Kiryas Joel as they are, elementary school consisted of the Kiryas Joel Union Free School District.


That school system, one of a handful of its kind in the nation, is geared towards accommodating the village’s substantial population of students with special needs.


In operation for years now, it’s also seen quite a few children grow up and move on to services and supports geared for young adults—including quite a few of the gentlemen from Day Hab.


But being an alumnus of the KJ School District doesn’t just mean that you’ve got old friends in disability support programs other than Hamaspik—it also means that among your beloved former teacher’s aides is Rabbi Chaim Hersh Weiss.


Rabbi Weiss is a veritable pillar of Kiryas Joel’s special-needs education scene, having been with the School District since its inception, and involved in disability schooling before that.


And just as the recollection powers of individuals with special needs are commonly well above typical, so too is their love for former teachers all the greater.


Needless to say, the gentlemen who benefit from Hamaspik of Orange County’s Day Hab all but jumped at the chance to spend a day with their beloved Rabbi Weiss.


And on one fine Thursday morning this past month, the gentlemen found themselves heading upstate to do just that.


The exciting day began at their Day Hab center with the usual morning routine: Morning prayer services per community-of-origin mainstreaming followed by nutritious breakfast.


After that, it was anything but routine.


Boarding Hamaspik’s vehicles, the young men soon found themselves heading up Route 32 into the heart of the Catskills.  Destination?  Round Top—a sprawling multi-acre summer-camp and bungalow complex just outside rural Cairo, New York.


And upon arrival about an hour later, the fun began—and the nostalgic memories flowed.


Rabbi Weiss personally greeted the men at the door of his summertime bungalow, warmly welcoming the excited bunch. 


Once settled down, the veteran special-needs educator, ever his finger on the room’s emotional pulse, led his former students in one easy-to-sing song after another—all of which they readily remembered from their school days with Rabbi Weiss.


The atmosphere was shortly filled with joy—a joy only amplified by the presence of several other KJ School District alumni passing the summer at the camp.


United with classmates and beloved teacher’s aide, the gentlemen found themselves transported back in time to that familiar place of bonding and friendship.


After that exhilarating high, it was time to cool down a bit—and what better way to do that than a dip in the pool?


Supported by their trained Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), whose ranks include a certified life guard, the gentlemen next spent a good hour or two in Round Top’s giant outdoor pool along with their old school buddies, with each safely enjoying the water under their DSPs’ vigilant one-on-one supervision.


Splashing about in the pool was followed by a round of outdoor games on Round Top’s spacious grounds.  Race after race took place, with the gentlemen competing against one another—less to see who could finish first but more to just have fun.


The races were followed by lunch.


By the time the midday meal was over, served as it was well after midday, it was already time to go home.  By 4:30, then, Hamaspik’s vehicles were pulling up to 1 Hamaspik Way, the agency’s towering multipurpose building at the gateway to Kiryas Joel.


“It was a lot of fun” for the former KJ School District students visiting Round Top, later reported one Hamaspik DSP.


But for the gentlemen who still fondly remember Rabbi Weiss and their classmates, it was so much more than just that.