North Florida School of Special Education (NFSSE) is applying its ‘gold standard’ approach to creating the best education possible for students with intellectual and developmental differences during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a clever spin to its mission — to discover and foster each student’s unique abilities to reach their full potential in an engaged ‘virtual’ community — teachers are doing just that! “We aren’t changing our standards, we are improvising,” said Sally Hazelip, Head of School. “We are finding creative and innovative ways to provide online special education to support our precious families.”
Teachers are holding Zoom classes, where teachers and students are able to see one another and interact remotely. Teachers are forging ahead with students through live, interactive lessons in science, math, reading and writing. Students complete and submit assignments at their own pace. “We are so thankful for our team at North Florida School of Special Education who are working hard to keep our kids challenged and as “social” as they can be in a remote setting. Caleb loves to see his friends and his teachers.” Karen Prewitt, mother and Board member, echoed this sentiment shared by many parents.
Resource teachers have also taken to Facebook Live and a private NFSSE YouTube channel with daily art, music, PE, gardening, yoga, and story time. Berry Good Farms teachers are posting cooking classes to encourage students to practice cooking skills and eat healthy. Baked zucchini fries and hummus tempted everyone’s taste buds! Many of these resources can be enjoyed by students in the community at large.
NFSSE is not only teaching the basics, but finding creative ways to share life lessons of comfort and reassurance during this confusing time. Teacher assistant, Marla Anderson, chose “Learn to Improvise” from Suess-ims for her online storytime. She explained that “improvising means figuring it out as we go.” While adapting to the ever-changing days ahead, NFSSE staff and families know there is one constant they can lean on – the love, hope, and support found in this engaged ‘virtual’ community.