Spotlight on Special Education
Written By: Micheal Gears, Academic SPED Teacher; Olivia Hermans, Academic SPED Teacher; Amy Lou Anderson, Occupational Therapist; Erin Rudbeck Social-Emotional Learning SPED; and Kristyne Bazinet Speech and Language Pathologist
The MELA special education team works to support our scholars with disabilities through the use of individualized education programs that target their specific needs. Services provided include support for academics in reading, math, and writing; speech and language development; occupational therapy; and behavior and social skills. When providing these services, educators work with scholars individually or in small groups.
At MELA, special education teachers Olivia Hermans and Mike Gears provide academic support for our scholars. Amy Lou Anderson is MELA’s occupational therapist, and Kristyne Bazinet is our school’s speech therapist. Special education administrators Ashley Evans and Kristin Fischer also work to support the team here at MELA.
Our social workers, Erin Rudbeck and Autumn Terlouw, help our scholars work on behavior and social skills through individualized and small group lessons. During these lessons, students work on a variety of skills, such as emotion regulation, friendship skills and coping skills that can be utilized both within the school environment, but also when they are out in the community. Ms. Erin and Ms. Autumn are not only available to provide resources to the scholars while they are here at MELA, they are also able to help connect students and their families to resources that they may need within the community. They are always happy to help!
This fall the MELA team followed guidance from the state of Minnesota to review each individualized education program before winter break. This allowed our team to be responsive to our scholars’ academic, social, and emotional learning needs that have been impacted by the pandemic.
Also, just as classroom teachers have needed to adapt how they deliver instruction to provide distance learning to scholars who are quarantining or isolating, so too have those of us in special education.
Even beyond Zoom and Google Meets, though, the team has worked to integrate technology into what we do with our instruction. For example, using a program called MobyMax has allowed teachers to better identify what level our scholars are at in reading, writing, and math. This information then allows us to meet the scholars where they are at and provide the most beneficial instruction.
Mike, Olivia, Kristyne, Ashley, and Kristin are all new to MELA this year and have collaborated with Autumn, Erin, and Amy Lou to provide a positive learning environment that nurtures and supports all of our scholars in ways that help them reach their full potential.
We love working with all of our scholars, and we are grateful to be able to work with the team of educators and families that supports them.
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