EDMOND — Life after high school has taken years of household planning for Sahara Dodd.
Sahara, a freshman at Deer Creek High School, has Down syndrome and problem verbalizing. Her mom, Monique Dodd, mentioned the household has lengthy thought-about Sahara’s instructional choices — possible a vocational school — and potential job alternatives she might pursue.
The query for the Dodd household isn’t whether or not Sahara will construct job abilities, however somewhat which of them.
“I think one of the most important things that people need to remember about our children is that they’re teachable,” Dodd mentioned. “They’re able to do just as any average student could do, and sometimes they’re better at it than the average student.
“She will be among the public and learn to contribute just like other members of society.”
The transition from high school to grownup life is central to Deer Creek’s special education program, and the district says it has invested on this initiative in a means few school techniques have.
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To higher develop unbiased dwelling abilities, Deer Creek is constructing a 4,000-square-foot Transition Center outfitted with residence and work simulations — a facility the district believes is the primary in Oklahoma for a Ok-12 school district.
Students will study to prepare dinner for themselves, do laundry and preserve their private well being as soon as it’s completed this spring, barring delays.
“You can only create so much in a classroom, but if you had an actual house setting, you can accomplish a lot more,” special education instructor Nick Pettit mentioned.
How this system works
To develop marketable abilities, Deer Creek connects special education college students with native companies, postsecondary faculties and authorities companies that supply job coaching. They’re additionally linked with packages and duties inside the high school that relate to their aptitudes and pursuits.
Brighton Squires, who has an mental incapacity, graduated from Deer Creek final yr. During her junior and senior yr, the school helped her be part of a culinary arts and hospitality certification program at Francis Tuttle Technology Center to contain her in an trade suited to her sturdy social abilities. She’s now in job coaching at a neighborhood hospital.
“The (Deer Creek) program is very intentional about making sure that the students with special needs maximize what they have to offer,” Brighton’s mom, Heather Squires, mentioned. “Whatever their strengths are, they will access those, find out what they are and really work with that.”
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After graduating high school, Brighton nonetheless wanted to develop data essential to dwell on her personal, mentioned Squires, who nonetheless belongs to a father or mother group supporting Deer Creek college students with special wants.
What some youngsters study in every week might take years for Brighton to grasp. That makes important duties like grocery buying and tying shoe laces a problem, Squires mentioned.
The Transition Center will create an setting the place college students study to take care of themselves, mentioned Olivia Seefeldt, a special education instructor at Deer Creek.
“Right now, we don’t have a big kitchen. We don’t have a real bed. We have laundry machines, but it’s not the same kind of feel as if you were in a real house,” Seefeldt mentioned. “It’ll just be able to give us more space and more area to teach them things we wish we could teach them now but we just don’t have the space to do it.”
More to return sooner or later
The middle is the product of bond funds and greater than a decade of fundraising. By the district’s early estimate, its yearly price range might exceed $669,000.
Building the ability was a objective all through the eight-year tenure of Deer Creek’s newly retired superintendent, Ranet Tippens. Now, it’s starting to take form.
The district invited college students, mother and father, academics and others concerned within the venture to signal beams supporting the constructing at a ceremony Dec. 14.
“This has been a long-standing dream,” Tippens mentioned through the occasion. “Our dream is just about to be reality.”
Reporter Nuria Martinez-Keel covers Ok-12 and better education all through the state of Oklahoma. Have a narrative thought for Nuria? She will be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @NuriaMKeel. Support Nuria’s work and that of different Oklahoman journalists by buying a digital subscription as we speak at subscribe.oklahoman.com.