Thursday, August 18, 2011

World, Meet Monarch.

Like anyone, my writing is informed by my world. Allow me to introduce you to my unusual school to help you get a perspective on where I am coming from.

Monarch School is not like other schools. Our school is a part of the largest public school district in the state of Georgia, but I still often run into people in my district who have never heard of my school and are perplexed when they hear what we do. We are a public, special needs school serving children ages 3-4, and serving young adults ages 18-21. We have no K-12, and technically no regular ed, in our building, but we are indeed a public school serving kids in a full-day program. We serve students with a variety of exceptionalities: autism, vision impairments, hearing impairments, intellectual disabilities, orthopedic impairments, and more! Our adult students work on skills related to community participation, work, leisure, independent living, and volunteerism. The preschoolers work on academic goals to prepare them for kindergarten.

Now, why did I say that we “technically” have no regular ed in our building? That is another point that makes us unusual: we have a private, non-profit organization working out of our building that serves low-income families by providing a state pre-k and a national Headstart program for typically-performing children. This provides the pre-k and Headstart students an opportunity to receive a quality, full-day education in a public school setting. Because our early childhood program includes self-contained, collaborative, and inclusion classes, our special needs students benefit by having the opportunity to learn alongside typically-performing peers. With district teachers and paras working alongside private teachers and assistants, we learn from each other as a staff as well.

As the technology coordinator, I am at the helm of our technology program along with our support technician and media specialist. I teach a computer lab special to our preschoolers, provide professional development to staff, and collaborate with my team on budget and purchasing decisions. Because our students do not have textbooks, our principal believes that the technology provides a means for teaching curriculum for our students. I am fortunate to have a supportive administration who sees the value in fully integrating technology into quality instruction, and we have an innovative technology program with many of the latest tools at our fingertips. We see technology as a tool that helps level the playing field for our low-income and special needs students, while preparing them for whatever they will encounter outside of our walls. It’s my aim to enable the staff to wisely use all that is at their disposal, with the NETS for Teachers and Students as my guide.

That’s my school in a nutshell. What is your school like?

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