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Special Education

A series on special education in Kent County. School News Network will take readers into classrooms around the area to shine a light on new approaches to teaching students with physical and mental disabilities.

Leaders begin transition of center programs from GRPS to Kent ISD

The Grand Rapids school board voted to discontinue operating special education center programs on behalf of all 20 Kent ISD school districts, effectively turning them over to the intermediate district as of July 2019...

Let’s review center-based special education programs, say superintendents

A study will bring in an outside consultant to evaluate whether GRPS center-based programs are providing best practices compared with other districts in Michigan and beyond...

Signing for Children Opens ‘Window to Information’

Early on a Monday morning, Kari Chapin’s kindergartners sit on the floor as she leads them through lively exercises -- singing the days of the week, counting the date with pennies -- then announces they’ll soon have their 100th...

Grant Brings Sex Ed Instruction to Students with Special Needs

Eighth-grader Bryan Galvez aptly summarized the consequences of healthy versus risky decisions when it comes to teens and sex. “Would you rather have a baby or reach your goals?” he asked. Healthy relationships, pursuing dreams, abstinence, and having accurate information...

Signs of Understanding

Senior Nathan Ketchpaw uses sign language with big motions –– wide arms, a broad grin. His favorite sign? "Lion," he demonstrates, running his hand through his hair, like a paw through a mane. Excitement was on clear display in East...

‘A Chance to Have a Meaningful Life’

Dutton Elementary School second-grader Daniel Donaldson uses pictures and words on his talker to say what he needs to say. "The device gives me the chance to participate with the rest of the class and share the things I'm...

‘They Learn by Music’

A drum beat echoes down the halls of Sparta's Appleview Elementary. The source: a boisterous bunch of musicians keeping a beat and dancing to the rhythm. Students with cognitive impairments from across the district are stepping in line with Artists Creating...

‘A Model Program’ Says State Supe

About halfway through a tour of Northview High School and its Deaf & Hard of Hearing Program, junior Bozena Sneller asked state Superintendent Brian Whiston if there was any sign language he’d like to learn. Whiston said his daughter,...

‘Like Brothers and Sisters’

High school senior Kamryn Jansen helped sophomore Chris Lippenga to screen print a previously tie-dyed T-shirt. On the front they printed “LINKS” and on the back, a quote from Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little. Together we...

Talking About Sexuality Is Rarely Easy

There is a huge gap in what students with special needs know about human sexuality and what to do if they face a related situation or even a conversation, said an author and parent speaking to educators at Kent...

Disable the Label

Josh Vandyk has been called names by his peers. "Monster" is one that particularly hurt, he said. There have been others. And he's heard the "r-word": retarded. The word that was once widely accepted as a synonym for someone with...

Student Group Explores Latest Assistive Technology

Tony Bonofiglo was trying to be as helpful as possible to the woman sitting across from him. She was wearing a blue plastic band on her head with a playing card tucked inside. The card had a picture of...

Student with Autism Hits Milestones Thanks to Teachers, Students

Connor Zondervan is pretty much like every other senior at Caledonia High School. He takes classes, is getting ready to graduate, and figuring out where he wants to go to college. It’s a place his parents never thought he would...

High Schoolers’ Work with Kindergartners Yields ‘Remarkable Results’

More than a dozen teenagers and young children sat politely in a circle on the gym floor. Then came the craziness. “Duck, duck, duck, duck …” said a boy, tapping each person’s head as he walked. “Goose!” The last...

For Special Needs Children, Research Shows Early Intervention Works

One morning at his daughter’s school, Tom Walla watched contentedly as 3-year-old Libby pasted leaves onto a wreath with help from a teacher, then joined other children in a playful learning circle. “If you’re happy and you know it clap...
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