A new program is providing positive reinforcement opportunities for promising students with special needs who may need a specialized environment for students which contains sensory equipment. The new program is called PROPS (Positive Reinforcement Opportunities for Promising Students)
At Oakman Middle School in Alabama, where many special needs students are already in attendance, the classroom has been established and is fully operational. Oakman also has the space to develop a specialized classroom for student throughout Walker County Schools.
“The PROPS class is designed to use a variety of proven approaches and teaching methods to meet the varied and unique needs of students with behavior and/or social problems,” said Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Adkins. “The program and the classroom environment recognizes and develops the strengths of each student as problem behaviors are addressed.”
Students in first through eighth grades who have special needs and autism will be served by the new classroom. In addition, the district has invested in necessary staff, a special needs bus for transporting students, and sensory equipment.
Rachel Taylor previously taught special education at Carbon Hill, and is now going to teach students in the new classroom at Oakman Middle School. She said that the new sensory equipment will enhance learning through providing stimuli. Sensory items light up, glow in the dark, and have interesting textures, which encourage behavioral improvement.
“I’ll use the sensory equipment as a motivator for them to do something for me. … It’s using positive reinforcement as a motivator to get them to do what is needed for academics,” Taylor said. “The type of environment we’ve set up is to hopefully decrease the problematic behaviors to enable them to learn.”
There are fewer than ten students in the classroom, but with the expansion of availability throughout the county, the number is expected to grow.
“This classroom is set up for those students county-wide who are having difficulty learning in [already established special education classrooms],” said Taylor.