Meet Vanessa Visners Supervisor of Special Services AND new Redding resident

Vanessa and Reinis Visners chose Redding for their new home, they ere excited about the bucolic setting and the excellent schools where their two young children would be treated as individuals, not as numbers. At the time, they had no idea that Vanessa’s dream job would become available right in our school district.

And, Vanessa is the perfect fit for the position of Supervisor of Special Services.

She knew she wanted to be an educator early on after watching her mom teach in Buffalo, NY. Her uncle was deaf and she shared that “witnessing his experience had a profound impact on my decision to work with students with disabilities. I want every child to experience their full potential, feel empowered by their strengths, and achieve independence.”

Vanessa has been a Special Education Teacher in every grade from Kindergarten through seventh in NYC and Massachusetts. She was able to use her two masters in education & education policy & administration (From Mercy College and Boston College) as an Assistant Principal in NYC for almost 5 years. Upon moving to CT, she did IEP Compliance in Stamford K-age 21.

Ms. Visners has an office at John Read Middle School over in the 5th grade wing. It is spacious and cheerfully decorated. Highlights are the photos of her family. Her husband, Reinis, is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at a Public Charter school in Mount Vernon, NY.

Vanessa speaks in a straight forward manner that is bound to put any child and parent at ease. She appears patient, dedicated and caring, just the combination needed for this important position.

When asked to describe her job, she said, “I chair Planning & Placement Team (PPT) meetings and work with all stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan to meet each students’ individual needs grades 5-8 in Redding & Easton. I also observe and evaluate staff in both districts pre-K-8, ensure staff are receiving timely and pertinent professional development, work with families to address concerns, collaborate with building administration to address concerns related to Special Services, and work closely with the Director of Special Services to ensure policies & procedures are in place to maximize transparency, efficiency, and services for students. We just created an IEP Manual for both districts to help us align practices which is very exciting! No two days are the same which is one reason why I love this work!

Interim Director of Social Services MaryLou Torre and Vanessa Visners were both new in July.  They believe relationships are the most important part of their work, therefore both are taking time this year to establish relationships with colleagues, service providers, students, and families in order to determine the priorities for the department. Vanessa said that they are focused on building on the current strengths of the staff while simultaneously building capacity across the four schools. Visners and Torre are both are very excited about the future of Special Services in ER9.

She added, “I’ve been fortunate to work in the communities in which I lived for most of my career. It’s important to me to see students & families outside of the school setting, around the community. I believe it strengthens the relationships I develop with students and families.”

Vanessa is equally delighted with her new community. She says that, “Redding’s reputation for excellent schools combined with the bucolic setting were deciding factors for us. When I toured RES, I was blown away by the tight-knit community feel, opportunities available to students to explore varying interests, and the “old school” feel of going cross-country skiing/snowshoeing in P.E. We knew that the schools were a perfect size for our children. That was very important to us. I grew up in a  more rural suburb of Buffalo, NY, and Redding reminds me very much of home and the childhood I had. Similarly, my husband is reminded of his fond memories in the Catskills and wants our children to experience the outdoor lifestyle. During our homebuying process, I was able to watch the BOE meetings and follow community discussions around the budget. We were consoled by the outpouring of support for the schools in the community- especially current/future parents.”

For family time, they enjoy cheering on Buffalo sports teams, the Knicks, going for walks, exploring ther new surroundings, and having dance parties.They are looking forward to trying out the rink at the RCC.

Buffalo? Our current weather probably makes the Visners family feel right at home.

Vanessa Visners can be contacted at vvisners@er9.org

Local Business Clinical Massage and Sports Therapy Super Star

Chris Kieras has the magic touch.

This former Marine and Redding resident is the owner of US Sports Therapy specializing in Clinical Massage.  He is trained to evaluate and help athletes with performance techniques to prevent injury and also provides therapies for both athletes and non to get back on their feet after an injury or surgery.

I was frustrated with my slow recovery after my total knee replacement in April. After 4 months of Physical Therapy- double the average- my knee still refused to straighten. I felt like the tin man needing his oil can.

The muscle groups around my knee were tight bands. The stress on my other knee and on my back was very painful. I was fatigued from the strain and couldn’t stand for more than 10 minutes.

Chris Kieras was recommended to me as someone who had worked with people with my kind of injury. I was concerned that he wouldn’t take me on because I wasn’t an athlete. I envisioned him working in the corner of a sweaty old gym, barking orders like a Marine Sergeant at Boot Camp!

I filled in the comprehensive information form with trepidation and sent it to Chris before our first appointment.

I was surprised to pull up to a charming building not far from the Westport Train Station.  Up the short flight of steps (good practice for me!) to a lovely and serene waiting room. Chris’ wife, Maria Kieras shares the space for her wonderful Day Spa.

The three treatment rooms are lovely. Chris built the interiors himself. They are comfortable and not at all clinical.  And, certainly not a sweaty gym… although full disclosure: there is a gym on the second floor of the building where Chris works with athletes on technique.

Once I was settled on the comfy treatment bed, Chris got to work. He is intuitive and knowledgeable, having trained extensively in his field. He was able to determine that scar tissue was the culprit and started a deep massage to the area. I could feel a difference almost instantly. We’ve also discussed some dietary changes to help along my healing.

Chris gave me a routine to do daily and we still have a lot of work to do together. But, now I am feeling confident instead of frustrated about my full recovery.

I give Chris Kieras my highest personal recommendation!

At US Sports Therapy, Chris specializes in:

  • Injury Prevention: Movement analysis and new techniques to perform without the risk of injury
  • Sports Enhancement: Discover your inner strength with performance techniques to take you to the next level
  • Injury Recovery: Therapies customized to your specific needs to return to flexibility and mobility
  • Training: Specialized programs to enhance performance to reach your specific goals

Us Sports Therapy Of Westport | 38 Franklin Street | Westport, CT 06880

BRRR its cold!

Henry Polio sent in this photo of the temps hitting zero this week.

Please stay warm, drive safely and check in on your neighbors who may live alone or are elderly.

The Creative Side of town

A new children’s art school opened on Route 7 on the Redding/Ridgefield town line in early November and has been buzzing with activity despite the fierce weather Mother Nature has unleashed. The Arts & Nature School offers art, musical theater classes, birthday parties, “Splatterday” splatter painting events and one-of-a-kind glow parties. The studio features a wide variety of offerings for children and families including paint and sip, teen paint and pizza night, Mommy & Me Music & Movement, Kid’s Karaoke, knitting, workshops and much more.

The Arts & Nature School of Ridgefield was opened by Wendy Mitchell, local resident and a member of the Ridgefield Arts Council and Ridgefield Youth Commission. Wendy, a singer/bass player and writer, was the founder of the nonprofit healing arts studio Sandy Hook Arts Center for Kids (SHACK), founded by her after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in her hometown in 2012. She has taught musical theater in the Greater Danbury area for the last 15 years, and will continue to do so at her new school.

“My philosophy centers around the concept that each child is different with unique talents and abilities. My job is to help develop those talents while building their self-esteem in a nurturing environment. Through theater games, improvisation, vocal and theater instruction, we’re helping kids develop lifelong skills,” Mitchell said.

Art activities are largely based on using recycled and upcycled materials and items found in nature.

“When I was little we used to play outside all day long making tree forts and collecting pine cones and leaves in the woods. Now kids are hooked up to technology and studies show this can be detrimental to their health. We want to create projects and experiences that make kids ask questions about the earth and bring them back to nature to encourage imaginative and creative play, collaboration with their peers and social interaction between children.”

In the two months since she has opened, Wendy has held fundraisers and events for the greater Danbury Women’s Center, Dylan’s Wings of Change, Newtown Strong Therapy Dogs, Family & Children’s Aid and Meals on Wheels. You many have seen Wendy and her 17-year-old daughter volunteering under the tent doing face painting at the Georgetown Winter Festival to raise funds for the Redding Fire Department and Rising Starr Horse Rescue.

The next Splatterday splatter painting event for kids ages 2-10 is on Friday, Jan. 19 from 4-6pm, Saturday, Jan. 20 from 10am-12pm or 3-5pm and Sun. Jan. 22 from 12-2pm.

The Arts & Nature School’s Winter Session begins on Monday, January 8, 2018. Click here for class offerings and registration information.

Instagram: @artsandnatureschool

ERCCC Meeting

Come join us on Wednesday, January 10th at 7pm for the
Easton Redding Community Care Coalition Parent meeting

Are you, your teenager or a family member struggling with stress and anxiety?

Our meeting will include a presentation by Kathy Katts, Holistic Wellness Counselor, and Mindfulness Expert.  Kathy will discuss the root of anxiety and introduce HOW TO strategies to allow for immediate shifts in mindset. Scientific research from a holistic and consciousness perspective will be presented.  The presentation will end with a guided technique to allow all participants to experience a physical and mental shift.  To learn more about Kathy, go to her website: www.innersourceayurveda.com

In this ever-changing landscape, the time is now for us to learn and implement new strategies to evolve and grow with equanimity.


by John McCleary

Thank you for selling out the Redding Road Race, “A Run For The Cows” super-fast, as usual!!

Like us on facebook, as we communicate a lot here

We’re going to have a lot of fun in the upcoming months.  While I’m busy ordering gifts and assigning bib numbers here are a few race notes:


  • Joan Benoit Samuelson will be our very special race guest this year.  The last two year we had the greatest American male long distance runner at the race, so, it’s only fair that we now get the greatest American female long distance runner to join us!!
  • Newsletters – we publish about 10 newsletters prior to the race – send me your human interest stories as these are the heart of the newsletters.  Past newsletters can be viewed on the website.
  • Sponsors – we’re always looking for Mile Marker Sponsors
  • Pasta Dinner – We’re planning on doing some type of pre-race party with a band, a bar and a chance to meet Joan – stay tuned.
  • Giveaways – Complimentary giveaways are better than ever – with registration, you will be getting: a coolmax shirt, coolmax hat, coffee mug, insulated lunch bag, cow bell, bumper sticker and personalized bib.  Mighty Cow participants will also be getting an extra gift or two.
  • Own an aid station – If you’re willing to get 4 or more volunteers together to “own an aid station” you registration will be refunded.
  • Waiting list – The registration site has started waiting lists for all races.  I don’t envision being able to accommodate any more 7 milers, but will be able to take in a few more half marathoners and Mighty Cowers. So, feel free to tell any friends who may have missed registration.
  • Documentary – Check out our documentary, starring Bill Rodgers, Liz, Ann, Sharon and Heather.  It’s on the front page of the website (along with other videos) and, if you haven’t watched it, it’s worth the 23 minutes.
  • Host Hotel – La Quinta Inn, $94 night I think??  116 Newtown Rd, Danbury CT 06810,  203-798-1200, tell them you’re running the race.