Abigail Williams’ students at Florence Markhofer Elementary (Elk Grove USD) are focused on their schoolwork. But, in addition to their general studies, they are learning daily living skills that are integral to their lives. They are learning functional skills like sign language, how to feed themselves, and how to walk. The goal for students is increased independence.
Williams is a special education teacher in an elementary special day class operated by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE). “What I love about being a special education teacher is the opportunity to work with students and…to see incremental growth,” she says. “A lot of times we work and work, and sometimes it’ll be years. And then you see a student make that first step and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh! They’ve done it!’”
"The goal is to always make [students] as independent as possible—to open up communication so they can let us know what they want and don’t want."
—Terri Edinburgh, Teacher
Special Education Department serves students with moderate to severe needs from birth to 22 years of age. Students from ages 3 to 22 attend programs at locations throughout Sacramento County. SCOE operates 40 special day classrooms at approximately 23 sites within Sacramento County, and has special education teachers at 12 preschool inclusion settings. The programs are all on typical, comprehensive school campuses where the students have additional opportunities for inclusion.
SCOE’s special education staff works closely with families and specialists to provide creative and individualized services. The staff teaches students daily living skills, ranging from daily routines, to feeding, hygiene, and toileting skills. Highly trained teachers and paraprofessional educators work closely with students and families. They all have direct access to designated instructional support staff (nurses, speech therapists, teachers of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility specialists, physical therapists, and/or occupational therapists).
“The goal is to always make [students] as independent as possible—to open up communication so they can let us know what they want and don’t want,” says Terri Edinburgh, who teaches at SCOE’s special education program at Prairie Elementary (Elk Grove USD).
A big component of the effort to increase independence is a program called
MOVE (Mobility Opportunities Via Education). The internationally acclaimed program has been shown to improve functional mobility skills and empower children with severe orthopedic impairments to better direct their own lives. “MOVE is an amazing program that is research based. It assists students in the skills to sit, stand, and walk in a very strategic fashion,” says SCOE Principal Siobhan Dill.
Four of SCOE’s special education school sites are
MOVE International Model Sites—sites where certified staff can demonstrate implementation of concepts and techniques. In fact, SCOE had the first MOVE Model Site established in Northern California.
“When I see monumental growth in my child, I feel blessed, and I feel emotional. And it’s just an overwhelming feeling to be able to see the big steps that she takes,” says parent Myriam Hernandez.
For more information about the Special Education Department, call (916) 228-2751.