Education That's Special for all the Kids
Offering a quality public school education for all children is a foundational principle of communities across the U.S., and few places embrace that principle quite as well as Colorado Springs School District 11.
For a perfect example, look no further than D11's Special Education program. While many districts will send children from their special education programs to specialized, center-based schools, most of the kids in the D11 program receive special education services at their neighborhood school.
"Probably the thing that sets us apart from a lot of the districts around the state is we're a very inclusive district," says Nancy Homan, lead special education facilitator for Colorado Springs School District 11. "We try to keep kids with disabilities in the same school as other students in the neighborhood. Instead of bringing kids to programs, we try to bring programs to our kids. They go to school with their brothers and sisters and the kids down the street."
There are approximately 2,400-2,500 students enrolled in the D11 special education program, and they are taught by a staff including about 170 special education teachers, 25 speech pathologists, 50 social workers, psychologists, counselors and 10 sign language interpreters. They are assisted by occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech pathologists, behavior consultants, audiologists, instructional coaches and vision teachers for children who are visually impaired.
The staff is then sent to schools around the district, working with students right at their neighborhood schools, something Homan says is part of the program's philosophy. That philosophy is, as much as possible, all kids deserve to be educated and surrounded by their neighborhood peers.
"It's a good opportunity for everybody to learn," Homan says. "We honor diversity and believe it is good to have students with diverse needs learn together. We value people who learn differently from everybody else. Everyone has their own style of learning."
To help facilitate the more direct student approach, Homan says the D11 special education program treats each student's needs individually. As in any other situation that needs a solution, each school uses the resources at its disposal to attempt to address the individual circumstances.
"It really is about putting kids first, and doing what's right," says Homan.
To learn more about the D11 special education program visit D11's website.