Models of Excellence in Education: Exceptional Parent Education Awards

The Exceptional Parent, September 1998 | Go to article overview
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Models of Excellence in Education: Exceptional Parent Education Awards


In achieving educational goals, this year's Models of Excellence in Education have made use of the greatest resources of all--parents and imagination. Educational professionals have asked parents' opinions, set up parent support groups, involved them in academic and creative activities, and emphasized a parent-professional team working together in a partnership, setting the stage for students' success. Some of the programs demonstrate how they have put their philosophy into practice. Acting to make fact out of theory, they have taken the ideals which look good on paper and have proven them to be practical. We thank all those who composed submissions and shared "what's cool" about school.

Constant Communication and Creating a Sense of Belonging

Linwood Elementary School, Linwood, MI Nominated by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dewyse, Pinconning, MI

"Our daughter, Danielle, is 11-years old and has tuberous sclerosis. This is characterized by seizures, tumors that form on major organs, mental retardation, and skin lesions. In addition, she also demonstrates autistic behaviors," write the Dewyses. "We live in a small, rural fanning community with limited financial resources. At Linwood Elementary School, Danielle has been included in mainstream classes when appropriate and has received assistance from special education Instructors when needed." An educational team has come up with some very creative ways to assist Danielle in making progress and in keeping the lines of communication open with her parents.

Since Danielle cannot tell her parents what happened at school, her teachers and aide write in her notebook which goes home with her. In addition, the aide works with Danielle's classmates, who take turns as her "helpers" in assisting her throughout the day, by reading to her, eating with her during lunch, and doing other activities. Together, they record the day's events onto a cassette tape. Special events are recorded on a video tape, which Danielle loves to watch.

"The staff has made a unique report card which identifies each area Danielle is working on, for example, basic skills, independent work, functional skills, self-care, communication, etc. Documented progress is depicted by stickers the teachers place next to each area. The number of stickers indicates the course of her progress; three stickers means that she is fully developed in that skill and will then move to another. The colorful stickers provides strong visual feedback for Danielle," say her parents. Danielle and her family can see how much she has accomplished as the school year goes on.

In the Special Education Room, Danielle and the other students make saleable items. Since the school district does not have funds available, the money the students raise pays for their field trips to surroundings areas.

"As a parent, one of your fears is that your child is an outcast. The Linwood School staff and students have fostered a sense of belonging," say the Dewyses. The benefits of this continue beyond the classroom, as well. "Lately, a mobility specialist has recommended that Danielle work on safety issues out in the community She and her aide deliver mail to the post office, go to the bank, etc. In this way, our community has become aware of her abilities."

Contact: Linwood School Special Education Dept.; telephone: (517) 697-5711.

Everyone Learns: University partners with school system

Westport School System, MA Nominated by Virginia Burke, North Dartmouth, MA

"Our grandson, Brendan, was diagnosed with PDD/NOS (pervasive developmental disorder/not otherwise specified) at 18 months," writes Virginia Burke. "He met with little success enrolled in an early-intervention program in a nearby city. However, when he was three-years old, Brendan's parents requested, and were granted, a working coalition with the Westport School System and the psychology department at nearby University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

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