Special Education Visitation
For my visitation I went to the public high school in my hometown of Vineland, NJ. 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 Vineland High School (VHS) is only seven years old.
VHS 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 VHS 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 VHS the Rooster Buddies were selling an assortment of baked goods. The Rooster Buddies is a student club that was started with the intent of helping students with severe disabilities make the adjustment from a self contained classroom in a county special education school to the relatively unstructured experience of a large high school. VHS has over 4,000 students.
There are more than 75 non-handicapped students in the club and they work with over 30 students who have disabilities ranging from severe physical handicaps to students with learning disabilities.
At the game there were about 15 students without obvious handicaps and 4 students with visible physical handicaps. Since I was not with the administrator at the game I was unable to determine just how many of the seemingly normal students were non-handicapped. From what I saw, the students seemed to work well with each other and actually they were pretty efficient. At halftime they were really swamped by fans and they worked well. The physically handicapped students weren’t just ornaments.
They actively participated, as much as they could. One of the students, Alex I’ll call him, was apparently paralyzed from the waist down. He had full use of his upper body and was one of two kids taking money. Another student in a wheelchair, who appeared to be afflicted with a more serious handicap (perhaps a form of cerebral palsy) was using the tray on his chair as a table displaying various cookies. The purpose of the bake sale was to raise money for a trip to a local amusement park. I thought that this was a good way to entice non-handicapped students to participate in the program.
Another thing that I noticed that I found encouraging was the fact that the students with handicaps were into the game, as fans. Up until about two minutes before halftime and then again two minutes into the third quarter the physically handicapped students found their way out into the gym and watched the game from right near the student section. They were cheering just .