We believe that students at this stage in their development, particularly those with some special learning needs, require "close attention at a distance." By this paradoxical phrase we mean that although these students require our supervision and augmented instruction, they also strongly reject any attention, which makes them appear different or in need of extra help. For this reason, our special education teachers work as much as possible within the daily life of the team of regular teachers, with all students at times, so that their services to special students will not be unique or their presence unusual.
To accomplish this, we have one special education resource teacher and paraprofessional on each Middle School team. This allows the team to offer "special education type" services to many students who are not formally identified as having an educational disability. Among the services widely available to all students are: small group tutorials centered on the teams' curriculum, direct support and assistance inside classrooms, and reasonable modifications and accommodations based on a student's particular need. The resource program also offers help in the form of functional behavior plans to students experiencing behavior problems.
In addition to services within the team structure, the middle school special education program also offers a number of instructional and related service opportunities to students with a variety of more exceptional needs.
The Middle School Developmental Disabilities program is designed to place adolescents who have developmental or multiple disabilities in inclusive classrooms with support from a paraprofessional and consultation from a special education teacher. As appropriate, small group instruction is presented in the areas of reading and math. Each student receives services from therapists (physical, occupational, speech and adapted physical education) as needed.
The KIDS program (Kids in Difficult Situations) is a three tiered service program available for students whose primary disability is severe emotionally disabled/behaviorally disordered. Tier one is for students who continue to need processing time and who require one-on-one monitoring for their academic and behavioral needs in a self contained setting. Tier two is organized for students who have demonstrated strides toward developing independent work habits, yet continue to need coaching with their interpersonal and behavioral choices. Tier three is for fully mainstreamed students with drop-in services as needed and full case management services. This tier is based on a “revolving door” model. The staff consists of a classroom teacher, a therapist, and several paraprofessionals who support the students in mainstream classrooms. The primary goal of the KIDS program is for students to learn school coping strategies to be successful within the mainstream of public education.