For my visitation I went to the public high school in my hometown. Due to time constraints I was not able to visit the school on a weekday when classes were in session. I did however get to witness another part of the special education/inclusion program called the Rooster Buddies. I did, however, get some information on the special education program from an administrator via phone and fax.
The special education program at Smallville High School (SHS) is only seven years old. SHS is on a seven-period day, and the Severely Handicapped (SH), Special Day Class (SDC), and Resource Special Program (RSP) teachers are only assigned students two or three periods. The majority of students are only enrolled in a Special Education class one or two periods, depending upon their individual need. The breakdown of each individual section of the special education program at SHS looks like this:
The administrator that I spoke to wrote in a fax "the Special Education classes are transitioning into study skills classes so the teacher can provide additional help and support for the student to succeed in the regular class environment. During the four or five periods, when the teachers and instructional aides do not have students assigned to them, they are providing support for their students in the regular education classroom. The level of support is directly related to two factors: 1) What the student needs to be successful. 2) What the teacher needs to help the student succeed. So the support provided by the teacher may be provided daily in the regular education classroom, in the form of helping the student take notes, monitoring behavior, doing a lab activity, etc. The support may also take the form of weekly program checks with the regular education teacher, modifying and/or adopting curriculum, or teachers meeting informally to talk."
As I mentioned before, I didn't get to actually sit in on a class but the weekend that I was home the Rooster Buddies were holding a fund-raiser. At the annual City Series basketball game between my alma-mater Sacred Heart and SHS the Rooster Buddies were selling an assortment of baked goods. The Rooster Buddies is a student club that was started wit...
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... in helping handicapped students assimilate socially a little better. That is an interaction that normally wouldn't happen. Often times, especially in high school, students who are "different", whether physically handicapped or not, are often ostracized. Again, I didn't see one of these lunch sessions, but I could see by the way that the students interacted at the game that they looked at the students with handicaps as peers.
I realize that I didn't get the real in-depth experience that was envisioned for this assignment but I did find what I saw really interesting. I know that just four short years ago they didn't have the buddy program at that school. And they still have nothing at my old Catholic high school. After learning more about the benefits of inclusion during the semester, it was encouraging to see that those benefits were being experienced by students from my hometown, if not my alma-mater. I wonder how my knowledge and perceptions of the handicapped would be different if there had been programs like that when I was in high school. At least I can rest assure that future students at SHS will not go through school as ignorant about handicapped students as I did.
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