Having high ambitions for special education students is a big part of teaching for former Old Rochester Regional basketball player Becky Okolita.

Soft SkillsOkolita leads the high school transitional special education program for students ages 18 to 22.  She has a long list of projects and expectations for her students.  These include organic gardening, learning to cook, sewing, managing their own money, and volunteering in their towns.

“With this transition program, you get to see them find success and independence for the rest of their lives,” said Okolita.

Okolita’s space in the high school is two rooms that are not traditional classrooms.  The four students she works with have a variety of mental and physical challenges.  One room has tables, chairs, a sewing machine, a microwave, a toaster oven, and workstations.  The other room is set up for students to take a breather with seats and a view of the courtyard.

“I think a classroom would have made them feel they were still in high school,” Okolita said. “We want to give them the feeling that they’re transitioning into the adult world.”

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