Special Needs Education Program helps Perry’s Environment

Special Education is an integral part of education, not a separate ordeal. The function of Special Education Program (SPED) is to “provide appropriate instruction using alternate academic state standards and on building academic, functional, social and communication skills so that students can be successful living independently” according to Alexis Myers, the head of the special needs program. Myers says, “There are over 300 kids in Special Ed in our campus, the majority of which only get assistance in certain areas. About 50 students are in our program, which focuses on life skills and vocational skills.” These teachers include Susan Barry, Alexis Myers, Caroline Cook, Jenn Blackwell, and Sandy Fernandez. Each of these five teachers that work with these 50 students do something different on our campus.

The SPED program has numerous duties within the school that contribute to our community, such as the collecting of teachers’ recycling, maintaining a garden with the environmental science class, delivering mail, as well as participating in community based instruction. Principal Dan Serrano highlights “one strength of the program is the job preparation the children receive along with.” Due to the countless tasks the SPED students are involved in around campus, they continue to develop life skills such as communication, responsibility, and leadership.

The recycling program is organized and facilitated by Caroline Cook, one of the Special Education teachers. However, it is entirely dependent on the special needs kids along with peer facilitators and professionals. Cook explains, “Each week on block day the students in my fifth and sixth hour classes visit all the buildings, excluding the bus barn due to its distance from school, and take the recycling bins that teachers have places outside.” This gives the students a chance to get away from academics while developing their functional life skills. Mrs. Cook mentions, “My job is only to email out in the morning and remind all the teachers to put out their recycling.” All the other functions just fall into place. In relation to the impact on our Perry community, Cook accentuates, “the teachers email me and they appreciate it. They are so understanding, cognizant and supportive.” 

The simple act of taking the recycle bring a sense of unity and contentment with the world. Katelyn Cloud, a student in the Special Education program, exclaims, “It’s so much fun doing the recycling and getting to say hi to people!”