Teachers have found a way to foster friendship in the collaboration classroom between students from a special education program and a mainstream fifth grade class.
At Liberty Elementary, students are sharing the importance of friendship. Fifth grade students in Kari Swartz’s class wanted to visit with students in the special education classroom as they had read a book about students who spent time in the school’s collaboration classroom called “Because of Mr. Terupt.” The students wanted to imitate the story in the book to see what would happen and what they could learn.
“The impact on my students has been overwhelming,” said Swartz. “The kids are learning important life skills that will follow them for the rest of their lives.”
Special education teacher Melissa Hougland says that her students get real life social experiences with kids who are their own age. “There was one boy who would always walk with his head down and was very shy,” said Hougland. “Now when he sees Swartz’s fifth-graders, he lights up and is greeting everyone.”
According to Hougland, parents have expressed gratitude for the program and are happy that their children are viewed as equals by students outside of the special education classroom.