The Special Services Department oversees programming and services for students with specialized educational needs.
Provided across the Homer 33C Schools are the following services:
- A continuum of special education services to children with disabilities from age 3 through 8th grade.
- Individualized service delivery to meet each learner’s cognitive, academic, communication and social emotional needs.
- Inclusive programs and services that provide students with disabilities the opportunity to be successful in the least restrictive environment determined by each Individual Education Plan.
- Identified services and supports are provided on a continuum and some may be in a special education classroom or program as determined by each Individual Education Plan.
- Section 504 Accommodation Plans are provided to eligible students as required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
All of our programs and services are monitored for compliance and meet state and federal requirements.
Director of Special Services
Life has come full circle for Becky Cortesi-Caruso. As a teenager, she benefited from a group of caring individuals who rallied around her when her father passed away suddenly her senior year of high school. Today, she’s the one rallying around students as they face their own challenges, disappointments and personal tragedies.
“I don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for the Lemont High School staff,” said Mrs. Cortesi-Caruso. “They picked me up when I was at my lowest point.”
The Lemont native went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on a softball scholarship, then transferred to Lewis University where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She was immediately accepted into the Master of Social Work Program at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. After obtaining her Master of Social Work, she began working as a school social worker at Lowell Longfellow Elementary School in Harvey School District 152. Since then, Mrs. Cortesi-Caruso has acquired a Master’s degree in Administration and Leadership from Benedictine University and gained extensive background in special education and pupil personnel services. She has worked as a school social worker in Plainfield School District 202 and Joliet Township High School District 204 as well as Director of Special Education for Marquardt School District 15 in Glendale Heights. Before joining Homer 33C in 2016, Mrs. Cortesi-Caruso was serving as Assistant Director of Student Services in Mokena School District 159.
Her vast employment history in very diverse communities has fueled Mrs. Cortesi-Caruso’s passion for helping students and their families. She has coordinated various student support programs through the years, including a program for at-risk students called Gang Avoidance Initiative Now (GAIN) at Joliet Central High School. She is a student oriented administrator who is dedicated to ensuring that students come first.
Mrs. Cortesi-Caruso lives in Lemont with her husband, Michael, and their three children: Camryn, Carson and Charleigh.
Assistant Director of Special Education
David Mekhiel grew up working with students with learning disabilities, behavioral disorders and emotional disturbances. His father was a math teacher, providing instruction to LD/BD/ED students at an alternative school in Naperville. As a youngster, he would often accompany his father to school and observe him at work. “That’s when I knew what I wanted to be,” he said. “Seeing that lightbulb go off when a student started to understand a new concept was the greatest thing.... It’s the best aspect of being a teacher.”
Mr. Mekhiel received his Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Northern Illinois University and his Master’s degree in Education Administration from Saint Xavier University. Before joining Homer 33C in 2017, he served as Assistant Director of Special Education and Student Services for Gary Community School Corporation where he was instrumental in changing policy and reforming the schools to meet the needs of all students in an educationally inclusive manner. He also supervised and facilitated all aspects of special education programming and supervised/facilitated student placement in accordance with student IEPs. Mr. Mekhiel began his career as a special education teacher -- first at SouthEast Alternative School in Naperville (where his father once taught) and then Proviso West High School in Hillside. He lives in Darien with his wife and daughter.