During my 37 years in the classroom, form 1974-2011, the practice of mainstreaming students with different abilities happened in 1990. Suddenly, teachers with no real training for how to deal with students with different abilities were thrown together with them. I can remember many of my friends panicking, but my philosophy was that if you love kids and treat them with respect, and if you do what is best for the students, everything will work out. I loved my special needs students for all the years I taught school.
I saw an interesting story on TV about a farm in Frankfurt, Illinois, that is teaching people with special needs ages 14 and up about farming. The Navarro Farm owners have a 17 year old son named Carter who has Down's. These folks recognize that as people this age are phased out of school and after school programs, their ability to interact with others socially, as well as to get out and contribute to society, is severely limited. The parents know that their son, along with others, need a sense of purpose - to make a difference, and to contribute to the well-being of others - so they turned their farm into a non-profit. As of July, they began teaching people 14 and older with Down's all about farming. They learn about fruit trees, vegetables, and animals. They learn about planting and harvesting. All of the produce is sold at a roadside stand called CARTER'S CORNER FARM STAND, with monies returning to keep the farm and the educational programs going. Just since July, they have served 85 individuals with Down's, introducing them to the wonderful world of farming.
I remember parents of my students worrying about what would happen to their children when the school years would be finished. Our society does not do much for inclusion for some groups, and this program fills that void. The Navarro Farm also has fun social programs for their group, including a visit with Santa just last week.
I love the idea of this farm! Participants learn to contribute, and to become a part of something larger than themselves. They know the work they have put in to contribute to the greater good, which gives them a positive feeling that they are doing something valuable This is a huge win/win for everyone.
To see this amazing story, please click on the link below:
Visit Dede's web page for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
Connect with Dede!