My son Jac graduated in May. As a parent, the whole transition out of school has been so scary and overwhelming for me. The new program that Jac is in, named Encore, has probably been the best thing my school district has ever done.
The school district secured funding and approval to have three classes for the young men and women who are 18 and older. They are divided into classes based on their abilities.
My son’s class currently has three students, a teacher and an assistant. He has made more progress this year than any other year in school. His week is full. On Mondays, the class goes grocery shopping for all the items they will need to make lunch and snacks for the whole week. On Tuesdays they go to the library, Wednesdays are a free day and Thursdays they volunteer at Meals on Wheels by delivering meals to people who are homebound. On Fridays, they volunteer at the food bank.
During the week, my son has a laundry bag he fills at home and takes to school. He has learned how to wash and fold his laundry. Then he brings it home. He is also learning cooking skills, along with cleaning up and doing dishes.
The three students in this class are all young men about the same age. They have different personalities and disabilities. But they get along perfectly. For the first time ever, my son feels like he has friends.
Jac’s teacher noticed that after two months of volunteering, he started to remember the names of the people he was delivering meals to. We were both stunned as we couldn’t believe that he was remembering the people’s names. He usually doesn’t remember names.
The Encore teachers are phenomenal. They are wonderful at challenging these students to do more than any of us would ever have thought they could do. My hope is, that with this new program, the community will start to take notice of how programs like these can help the whole community.
The teachers love taking pictures of the students doing everything and I have noticed that all of them have the biggest smiles when they are volunteering and helping others. This lesson could be taught to so many of us. Here’s to Encore and three amazing young men and their amazing teachers!
Check out this resource on Building Independence and how it helps a child build a stronger future.
School doesn’t start or end when the bell rings. The student experience should include access to and participation in school-sponsored or related activities. This includes extracurricular and co-curricular activities.
Categories: Education & Schools