TRENTON—Two Middlesex County programs have been recognized this month for creative special education programming through the 11th annual Innovations in Special Education Awards.
Special Education Week, which begins the second Sunday in May each year, recognizes the achievements of the state’s 232,000 students with special needs and the contributions of their parents and teachers.
Gov. Chris Christie proclaimed May 13-19 as Special Education Week in New Jersey, and representatives of the 10 award-winning schools were recognized on May 18 at an event in Plainsboro.
The entries for the Innovations in Special Education Awards were judged on content; degree of innovation; how well they address student needs; integration into the curriculum; evaluation strategies; and parent/community involvement. The awards program is sponsored by NJSBA, which represents boards of education in public schools, and ASAH, an association that represents private special-education schools.
The Middlesex County programs honored through the 2012 Innovations in Special Education programs are:
Energy Cubs, Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission
This program raises student awareness about saving energy, while providing important lessons in the scientific method. Students participate in energy-conservation exercises, such as turning off lights in rooms not in use and making sure water is not wasted. At weekly meetings, they complete projects such as comparing water usage, assessing the value of high-efficiency light bulbs, and even building solar ovens to cook s’mores. Students have learned environmentally friendly practices like recycling and planting. They are given an opportunity for cross-curriculum learning by using steps from the scientific method and have become advocates for energy conservation, sharing their learning experience with their communities.
We Care, Sayreville Public Schools
This program includes students with disabilities in the complete high school experience by creating inclusive opportunities not only for the special education students, but for the entire student body. Students with multiple disabilities are involved in every facet of school life. Peer mentors share their skills in the gym, in the woodshop, in the television studio and in the classroom. Most innovative is the fact that students with disabilities take leadership roles in many charitable initiatives, and their general education peers eagerly collaborate on the projects. The transition students are also involved with the preschool disabled classes, acting as buddies by reading to the younger children playing with them, and assisting in arts and crafts projects.
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