In partnership with ASAH, the New Jersey School Boards Association is proud to celebrate Special Education Week in New Jersey while recognizing five imaginative programs that are helping some of the state’s 250,000 special needs students.
As part of its celebration of Special Education Week, the NJSBA and ASAH, since 2002, have sponsored an “Innovations in Special Education” program that has drawn wide interest from the state’s special education community. For this year’s award program, public and private schools from across New Jersey submitted 28 eligible entries.
The programs will be part of a special 10 a.m. Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday, May 12 on the NJSBA’s Facebook channel. Learn more about the May 12 program.
During the broadcast, NJSBA staff will recognize the following programs:
The 2022 Innovations in Special Education Award Honorees
- Benway School Transitions Program.
- Contact: Danielle Bourne, director.
Benway School’s Transitions Program in partnership with William Paterson University’s “Pathway to Professional Careers” places transitioning students 18-21 years old in a college setting to acquaint them with a new environment much larger than that of their high school. The WPUNJ Transitions Program provides each sending district the ability to implement each student’s individualized education program transition goals. The WPUNJ also has a Share Time Program: Professional Certification Dual Enrollment High School Credit Program that offers dual enrollment for students in 11th and 12th grades. This program assists students by providing marketable professional certifications, job exploration, time management, healthy relationship management, public speaking skills and goal setting. Students receive college-level instruction, transportation to and from the college and additional transitional services at the same cost of their undergraduate program.
Burlington County Special Services School District
- Pioneer Posh at Transitions at BCSSSD.
- Contact: Mary Jean Kneringer, principal, Transitions at BCSSSD.
The goal of the Pioneer Posh at Transitions at BCSSD program is for students to practice employable skills to support growth in an online e-commerce retail environment and through task analysis to develop the following skills: digital literacy, retail skills, marketing, postal/shipping and life skills. The program works as an online retail marketplace through the Poshmark website. Proceeds made through Pioneer Posh go directly toward supporting student activities. Pioneer Posh receives orders from all over the nation. The young adult workers have assisted in the creation of standard operating procedures for all aspects of the online retail operation, have the opportunity to serve as station trainers to new student employees, have developed cooperative and collaborative work as a team to establish a program from the ground up in such a short period of time and doing so efficiently and effectively.
The store was created as an alternative to going out into the community during the public health crisis caused by COVID-19. Due to its success, this in-house WBL site will continue post pandemic. This e-commerce business has fulfilled nearly 450 orders in more than 41 states, including Hawaii and Alaska.
The Calais School
- Animal Assisted Interventions.
- Contact: Tiffany Shevchik, program developer.
The Calais School’s Animal Assisted Interventions program takes on a multidimensional approach for their students’ academic, behavioral, and socio-emotional needs. While the type of AAI found in most schools often focuses on the comfort of students, Calais’ program addresses both the therapeutic and academic goals of each individual. These interventions are visible within the school’s related services: speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, reading remediation, physical therapy and counseling. The handlers and dogs are present in the school five days a week to provide services. Sessions are scheduled for students who work with the dogs individually as well as in small groups. The dogs are also present for larger group counseling sessions and are able to offer support when a student may be in a crisis situation. Goals are set for all sessions which are then documented afterward. Over 25 points of measurement are tracked for each AAI session and collected year to year. Goals for sessions are driven by the student IEPs as well as any personal needs established by the educators or counselors working with the students. At all times, during sessions, the handlers work alongside the related services providers and/or counselors to ensure efficacy, safety, professionalism, and reliability. The Animal Assisted Interventions staff work creatively with the other educational professionals to find a way to meet goals for all student needs.
New Road School of Ocean
- Bridges to Success
- Contact: Diane O’Donnell
The Bridges to Success program affords 18-21-year-old students the opportunity to simultaneously attend college and New Road’s Pathways transitional class. Students enroll in one course per semester at Ocean County Community College during the New Road school day. This unique opportunity allows students to return back to New Road School for support and assistance with assignments. Pathways to Independence is a program designed specifically for students ages 18-21, who have completed their senior year of high school.
The goals of the Bridges to Success program are to increase the likelihood students will pursue post-secondary education and, to fully acclimate the student to the college campus as well as the rigors and expectations of college coursework. Pathways’ teachers and curriculum coordinators guide students in developing necessary skills such as time management, note-taking, organization, test-taking, self-advocacy skills and communicating with professors. In addition, students receive exposure to the process of college applications and navigating a college campus. Students are transported to and from Ocean County College with the support of a staff member. Additionally, staff assists the students in completion of homework assignments, papers and studying for tests.
Eight Pathways’ students have gone through the program since its inception. The first student will be graduating from Kean University in 2023. While we are very proud of this program, we are most astounded by the unequivocal positive impact that it has had on New Road School’s entire academic community.
Summit High School
Summit Public School District
- 18–21-Year-Old Program.
- Contact: Doreen Babis, director of special services.
The 18–21-Year-Old program serves as an exceptional example of how a strong collaboration between the public schools and the local community can have a huge impact on students. In partnership with the Summit Community Center, students have the opportunity to be fully immersed in the local community. The collaborative partnership with the community center also affords students employment opportunities even during the pandemic. The Recreation Department offered job opportunities to students and paid them for their work. Students worked at the local aquatic center getting the facility ready for the Memorial Day opening. They also worked at the municipal golf course doing varied tasks. In addition, the community center provides many other opportunities on a daily basis, such as setting up and breaking down events, interacting with seniors while they play bingo and serving them freshly baked cookies.
In addition to employment, students volunteer within the community throughout the course of the week. Working weekly at a Summit food bank, students help organize produce and grocery items for families in need. Additionally, the Salvation Army welcomes students each week where they help with organizing donations, preparing items for families and other tasks.