In an unusual approach,preschool age peer mentors are working together with special education students. At Howard T. Ennis School, the four year olds hel special education students ages 2 to 4.
The mentors are enrolled full time in the Indian River School District. After they finish preschool, they continue to elementary school. The special education students remain at Ennis. According to Perfetti, there is never a time when a student does not have a mentor.
Students with severe intellectual disabilities or autism are able to improve tjheir social skills by playing, learning, and socializing with their mentors. Ennis serves students ages 2 to 21, and has 23 special education students.
The preschool mentors are carefully selected. They take assessment tests measuring academic and social skills.
“The best candidates will be average students who exhibit appropriate behavioral traits,” Perfetti said, “We’re looking for those average students who can model appropriate socialization, language, behavior and academics traits.”