Special Services Update


Don't Limit Me

As I mentioned in my newsletter last week, the use of a co-teaching model is an effective way to provide special education services in the least restrictive environment. It also provides a classroom structure that can meet a wide variety of student needs- from intensive special education needs to students who need less support.

When providing students with special education services we are legally required to place them in the least restrictive environment, in their neighborhood school, when possible. Not only are we legally required to place students in the least restrictive environment, we are ethically called to do so as well. Megan Boomgars, a student with Down Syndrome, has created a compelling Youtube video called "Don't Limit Me". Here's are some excerpts from what she has to say to her teachers....

"I am here to help you with the kids in your classroom, with a disability or without a disability. I am going to show you how to teach your students the right way. I am a special person.When I was in school I made a lot of friends. I was in regular classes with a para for support. I learned with other students in the regular classroom.

I became a cheerleader in high school. I was the first cheerleader in the state with Down Syndrome. My cheerleading team won the states and we went on to nationals where we won our national sportsmanship award in Washington DC. Since I was out of high school I was a fashion model in a Global Down Syndrome Foundation fashion show and I used to work at the Mile HIgh Down Syndrome Association where I helped them with events. I now go to the Bridge program in Highlands Ranch where I am learning to be a public speaker.

I have a lot of skills. I have a lot of dreams. What I want to say to you is DON'T LIMIT ME. DON'T LIMIT ME by thinking I can't learn in your classroom. DON'T LIMIT ME by thinking that I will always need someone to help me. DON'T LIMIT ME by having low expectations for me. Include me, and all your students, in your circle of learning, while you are planning for my World Class Education. Think about how I have the same needs as all students. We all need life skills. We all need work skills.

I need for you to teach me skills beyond reading and math. Teach me how to learn. Teach me how to act. Think about what I need to know and be able to do when I leave school. Help me learn to be independent in class. Help me learn to learn to be independent with friends. Help me learn to be independent and safe, moving around the school. Teach me to become independent so I can be an independent adult. I need to work independently. I need to speak up for myself. DON'T LIMIT ME by teaching me to depend on others. Teach me respect, because respect is give and take. Hold me to the same behavior expectations as others. in your classroom. Teach me how to behave and excel in your class. DON'T LIMIT ME by making me your class mascot! Teach me what you expect from me. Set high expectations, not impossible expectations. There is a difference, you know.

You will learn a lot from me. Good teachers teach and learn with their students. I will teach you a lot about yourself. I will teach your students about people with disabilities. If you DON'T LIMIT ME, we will teach our school how to be an inclusive community. You, my teacher, are the person who is going to teach me power, passion, love, and independence. And I will become a powerful, passionate, loving, and independent adult. So, please...DON'T LIMIT ME! My name is Megan Boomgars. Thank you for your time and have a wonderful year!

I think we all limit students, at times. Sometimes it is due to the structures of our schools, and sometimes it is out of concern and a desire to protect students. Megan provides a powerful message about the problem of limiting students, as well as a reminder of how all students have the same learning needs.

See it for yourself at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOwDfnoek6E

Here's your tool of the week, a Writing Checklist for an Essay: http://www.tooloftheweek.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/My-Writing-Checklist-for-an-Essay-from-Recipe-for-Writing.pdf

Jennifer F. Connolly, PhD

Director of Special Services