During the course of six-weeks, approximately 40 students from Valley Stream District 30 participated in the district’s half-day special education summer services program at Shaw Avenue School. Established in 2012, the program is designed to meet the continuing needs of students from all three schools with learning disabilities in the areas of reading, writing and math, and help strengthen language and motor skills. Students are recommended for the program based on the district’s Committee on Special Education.
Faculty members from throughout the district, including Melissa Cappy (Forest Road), Ashley Leimsider (Forest Road), Timothy Rau (Clear Stream) and Monet Springer (Clear Stream) helped facilitate four classes this summer, based on incoming grade levels. The program was open to students entering grades 1-6 in the district and featured a maximum of 12 students per class to allow for individualized attention. An occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech therapist were also instrumental to the program, offering services to students.
This summer, the program expanded from just its host school at Shaw Avenue. Each Thursday, students took a bus to Forest Road School where they tended to the student garden that they planned and planted in the spring and were able to see the fruits of their labor. The trips served as a beneficial outlet for students to learn about different foods, how garden’s work and ultimately, harness valuable life skills. They planted seeds, watered the garden, weeded and watched as different fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini were grown. The students learned how to properly pick their creations and together with their class, followed a recipe, making a dish such as pasta salad and guacamole.
“The garden gives students hands-on and real world experiences,” said Mr. Rau. “Not just by reading the recipes but by learning and trying new things such as food that they have never had before.”
The students created a sign for the garden by painting and gluing letters to a board and proudly displayed it. They also all learned healthy eating habits with the garden and MyPlate, an illustration of healthy eating styles.
“While acknowledging the importance of hands-on learning and movement, the program also incorporates push-in kinesthetic activities inside and outside of the classroom, led by an occupational therapist for the first time this summer,” said Nicole Schimpf, director of special services and immediate program supervisor. “This adds another element of therapeutic fun to the program.”
In addition to reaching for specific academic goals in the program, students also learned in a fun new way with weekly themes throughout the summer such as world geography week and weather week. The program concluded with its annual tradition of Field Day for all to enjoy.