Lake Shore High School is home to many students including special needs students. Colleen Johnston and her students reveal what it’s like to be in their classroom. Johnston is one of the special education teachers at Lake Shore High School; this is her second year teaching a special education class. Johnston explains what preparations she had to go through to become a special education teacher, “I went to Central Michigan University and I got my degree in special education with a concentration in cognitive impairments and then my minor is reading.”
Most people don’t know what it’s like to teach these special needs students. Johnston explains what it’s like to teach a special education class, “This class that I teach, it’s all students who have moderate cognitive impairments, so really what that means is socially and academically they’re lower than the general education population. So, the kind of things we work on, we work on functional academics, we work on money skills, daily living skills, and things of that nature. We also go on community outings. They work at different job sites so they can in those work skills so that’s really kind of the things we focus on. We have a blast in here.”
Johnston goes on to explain what subjects she teaches to the students, “We teach functional academics, money skills, basic addition, subtraction, time, english, daily living skills. Each month we have a different theme, such as a different life skill that we teach to our kids so just basic daily living skills and your functional academics.” Johnston also explains what other fun activities the class does, “Most of our kids think this is fun but our kids, they go to different job sites every other week. On Mondays, a group goes to the St. Clair Shores Civic Center, Wednesdays they go to the cafeteria and they help out in the kitchen area, and than Thursday they go to Viviano’s Flower shop. So, they go to different job sites, a lot of times on Fridays we go out into the community and we’ll go grocery shopping, we’ve gone to the movies, we’ve gone out to eat.”
Hailee Sthalm, junior, explains how her high school experience is going, “Good.”
Zach Oompardo, senior, explains what he looks forward to the most, “Hanging out with my friends.”
Tyler Cranston, junior, explains what fun activities they do in class and his response was a goofy one, “Mrs. Johnston.” Cranston and Johnston had a good laugh about that answer.
Johnston explains, “I chose to be a special education teacher because I think a lot of people don’t recognize how much they are able to do. A lot of kids look at it as they’re disabled, but a lot people don’t recognize a lot of their capabilities that they have. So, I recognize that and I just wanted to kind of bring out the best version of themselves then allow people see that they are capable of doing much more than they think.”
Lake Shore High School offers a Senior Leadership class to the seniors, in this class the seniors help guide the special need students with various tasks.
On this particular day, the class was making a penguin. Christian Houlihan, senior, explains his favorite thing about art, “Painting.” Houlihan’s also talks about his favorite art project, “[When we] Painted a dog.”
Talicia Ciay, a freshman, explains her favorite thing to do in art, “I like to make art projects and show it to my mom.” Ciay explains what her favorite project was this year, “The Valentines Day stuff.”
Derek Haviland, a senior at Lake Shore High School who is in the Senior Leadership Class, explains, “I think it’s awesome, they’re super fun, enjoyable, [they] laugh at everything, they love you.”
Darriyelle Jones, a senior who is also in the Senior Leadership Class, explains, “My friend told me about it and she said that it’s fun to work with them and I thought it would be a good opportunity to like help [them] out and be a role model in a way.”
Hayley Tumidajewicz, a senior in the Senior Leadership Class, explains, “It definitely changes the way I treat others, and the way that I looked at others because I used to treat other people a certain way and like think of people in a certain way. When I got this class it taught me to be more patient with people and to be more persistent with people.”
Madison Mooney, a senior in the Senior Leadership Class, explains, “Basically what the class is like being a senior leader and helping them out like not only being a senior leader, but being a friend to the students as well.”
As one can see, the Special Education class at Lake Shore High School is very fun and well oriented by Johnston. The students in the senior leadership class also gets to have a fun time while acquiring various life skills along with their fellow special need classmates. The class environment is extremely fun and awesome to be apart of. Everyone laughs, acts goofy, and, most importantly, gets their work done.