• Camryn Perone

Secret life of the special needs unit

Each student is unique in their own way – this is especially true for special needs kids. These students don’t let their disability define who they are. Aides and teachers help to integrate them into high school, but sometimes people are unaware that these kids walk the halls too.

The special needs unit consists of 11 students and two multiple disabilities teachers. Each day, students are involved in classes to help learn daily tasks and responsibility.

First period: According to special needs teacher Lynne Merkowitz, students partake in Daily Living class. Students are given jobs to do around class such as hygiene checklists and eating breakfast. The students also enjoy sharing their weekend activities with one another.

Second period: According to junior Bryan Longenbaker, students participate in reading activities. Each day, they read packets called unique

learning systems that consist of many pictures. These help students learn social and life skills from stories.

Third period: Students collaborate in small math groups. Here, the students are able to learn everyday skills like time and working with money, Merkowitz said. This gives students the opportunity to experience real life.

Fourth and Fifth period: Students participate in an adaptive PE class designed for them, Longenbaker said. They work with PE teacher Elaine Eddy on weightlifting and basketball skills.

Sixth period: Students enjoy eating their eat lunch. They get the opportunity to make their own food choices in the cafeteria and sit at lunch tables with other students, student Owen Heiman said.

Seventh and Eighth period: Students take a new adaptive foods class with Foods for Fitness teacher Jamie Miller. They learn food safety, cooking and how to set tables, Merkowitz said.

Ninth and 10th period: According to Merkowitz, students learn science topics such as rst aid and animals. In the spring and fall, they plant and water plants in pots outside.

11th period: Students participate in career lab, Heiman said. Here, they collect recycling, sort clothes and fold towels.

The final period: Students reflect on their days. During class, they are able to send emails to parents, Merkowitz said.

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