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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.

Students learn skills the fun way: making music

A group of Alto Elementary students took part in 10 one-hour sessions with a music therapist at the Franciscan Life Process Center, thanks to a grant from the Lowell Education Foundation...

Pine Grove Learning Center offers profoundly challenged students an opportunity to learn

The Pine Grove Learning Center is where 103 of the most challenged special education students and their families in Southwest Kent County find unconditional acceptance. They also find an opportunity to learn and grow despite their physical and learning disabilities...

Students progress despite their impairments at Pine Grove Learning Center

Teachers at the Pine Grove Learning Center take the long approach as they work with severely impaired students who attend the center-based program, which will transition from Grand Rapids Public Schools to Kent ISD this summer...

‘Amazing’ teachers at Pine Grove offer a beacon of hope for students like Evan

Despite his multiple impairments, 14-year-old Evan Valdivia is learning to respond to others around him thanks to teamwork by his family and the staff at Pine Grove Learning Center...

‘We all aspire to learn more’

Celebrating 30 years as a post-secondary college experience in the arts and sciences, the academy serves students with education and a place to belong...

Nick Minnema – special and driven, for all the right reasons

The Forest Hills Transition Center student and athlete competed this month at the Special Olympics World Games half a world away – in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city of Abu Dhabi, as well as the UAE’s largest city, Dubai...

‘She’s one of us’

Her mother said she sees her daughter retaining information and communicating more and more. She wants to do things herself. ‘She wants to be little Miss Independent’...

From making meals to selling Christmas cards, students learn job skills

Now in its 15th year, Region 1 Transition Services provides continuing education opportunities for adults, ages 18-26, with special needs in northern Kent County. The program’s goal is to help students gain employment, become involved in their local communities and lead independent lives...

Walkathon delivers peer connections, outside experiences

Last year’s event raised $2,100, which paid for a monthly student experience at Pine Grove, ranging from a mobile zoo exhibit to the antics of local author and puppeteer Kevin Kammeraad...

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...
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