Multiple Disabled Students To Have “Full Middle School Experience”

Officials discuss the changes in schedule. From left: Board Attorney Nicholas Montenegro, Board President Stephanie Wohlrab, and acting Superintendent Sean Cranston. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  BRICK – Students in the Multiple Disabilities (MD) Program at Lake Riviera Middle School will feel more like typical kids this year.

  Until this year, the MD students have been spending their day in one classroom with one teacher, but now they will be changing classrooms and will have different teachers for different subjects.

  During a special Board of Education meeting held on Aug. 27 (held primarily to finalize staffing for the new school year), the district’s Director of Special Services Kristen Hanson gave details during and after the meeting about the reconfiguration of the Multiple Disabilities Program at Lake Riviera Middle School.

  “The MD Program is still self-contained, but we wanted the students to have a full middle school experience,” she said.

  The MD students will now have the opportunity to interact with and be visible to the other students when they’re in the hallways at their lockers and get to know them, Hanson said.

  Students in the MD classes have a combination of disabilities that may include speech issues, physical mobility, hearing, sight, mental disabilities, brain injuries, and more, which vary in severity and characteristics.

  There are 21 MD students and three teachers at Lake Riviera Middle School (Veterans Middle School does not MD classes), and each class can have up to 12 students. Some of the students have their own paraprofessional, some share a paraprofessional, and some have a classroom paraprofessional, Hanson explained.

School officials discuss the changes in schedule. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  The MD students will be taught a Healthy Relationships Curriculum and Social Studies in their homeroom class. They will move between teachers for their math, science and English language arts curriculum, she said.

  They will have a block of time dedicated to vocational skills, which will be provided in conjunction with their specials classes, such as art, Hanson explained. The vocational schools will be developed with the teachers and staff this school year, she added.

  “The idea of the reconfiguration is to ensure that the students are an integral part of the school building,” Hanson said. “We want the students to have a connection to their school community and their peers as well.”

  Board of Education President Stephanie Wohlrab said she was “in tears” when she found out that her son Wyatt, 13, who is in the MD program, would be put on a class rotation like all the other kids.

  “I am totally behind this – I knew they were working on it,” she said. “When I got a list of his teachers, I was thrilled, and my son is so excited to go to school.”

New teachers being hired were asked to stand during the meeting. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  Wohlrab brought her son to the Board meeting since they were heading over to Locker Night at Lake Riviera Middle School.

  “I thank you so much for that hard work –  I know that there’s other moms like me out there – it just means the world to me and to Wyatt because that ability to be able to move around and learn from the different teachers with his peers is just incredible,” Wohlrab said.

  The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting will be on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Professional Development Center at the Veterans Complex.