Meeting specialized needs

Posted on Nov 13, 2015 by Alicia Levitt - Best Practices

Lutheran South Unity School Meets Student Needs Through Enrichment Room Triston Richards, a fourth grader at Lutheran South Unity School, is a kid who loves bugs, animals and science. His mom, Debbie, couldn't believe his ability to identify dinosaurs at a young age. But school hasn't always been easy for Triston.In kindergarten and first grade, his teachers noticed he lagged behind other students in reading and began making accommodations for his learning needs. But in third grade, Triston was still struggling and tested at only a first grade reading level.Triston needed specialized help and the enrichment room at Lutheran South Unity School provided the support for Triston's abilities to soar. With a focus on students who have gaps in learning or other deficiencies, including reading, math, or learning disabilities, the enrichment room builds student confidence and makes learning more enjoyable.Lutheran South Unity's enrichment room staffs four teachers to help students with various learning and behavioral needs."We have a full special-education program," teacher Malissa Desormeaux notes. "We have two Title I teachers, one full-time teacher to work with the school's [enrichment program], and others who work with kids with disabilities."This support gives kids like Triston the help they need to gain learning success.
Last year Mrs. Desormeaux served as Triston's third-grade teacher before moving into her current role as enrichment room coordinator. She said she noticed Triston's discouragement with learning. "Last year he was down on himself. He felt bad that he was way different than others."The teachers in the enrichment room sprang into action, focusing on Triston's learning deficits in reading, spelling and writing. Carmen Cleaveland, an enrichment room teacher with 18 years of teaching experience, started using new techniques to help the third grader.She tried the Orton-Gillingham teaching method, a multi-sensory approach to improve reading deficiencies. For spelling, she found Triston could successfully spell a word when he finger tapped the letters. Since Triston struggled with the process of getting words into written form, his classroom teachers adapted spelling tests, allowing him to close his eyes, visualize the word, and then spell it audibly to a teacher. Now Tristan's spelling scores have jumped using these new techniques. Mrs. Desormeaux notes, "He's even gotten perfect spelling tests."Once the enrichment room teachers were able to understand Triston's learning needs, they were able to customize their teaching techniques. They also collaborated with his classroom teachers so they could continue the same techniques in class. Volunteers tutored him, reading with him for an additional hour everyday to improve his reading proficiency. Because of the efforts of teachers and staff at LSUS, Triston jumped from a first grade to third grade reading level in one year.This improvement in reading scores has also helped Triston's confidence to soar. He's not embarrassed about his reading anymore."This year his confidence level increased," Mrs. Cleaveland notes. "He enjoys what we're doing more. He is enjoying greater success. His fluency is even better than a month ago. I say, 'Triston do you hear how well you're reading?'That has been so cool to see."Now that Mrs. Desormeaux also works as a full-time enrichment room teacher, she is using techniques like Feuerstein's Instrumental Enrichment method, where students do activities involving dotted lines that they connect into shapes and overlapping patterns. The purpose of these types of activities is intentionally allowing kids to practice certain "brain games" that will build cognitive development. He has found great success with the specialized methods used in the enrichment room.Triston's mom, Debbie, acknowledges that the teachers at Lutheran South Unity have been instrumental to her son's success. They have even taught her ways to help Triston complete homework."The teachers are working with him, for his success," Debbie adds.Triston's success has continued into his fourth grade year, with additional improvements in reading and spelling. Now that he is reading grade-level books, he no longer feels embarrassed about his learning challenges. In fact, he's proud of how far he's come. Lutheran South Unity School has made Triston's learning achievements possible.Mrs. Cleaveland adds, "You can tell he knows that he's improving. His confidence is growing each week."
This is the difference that Lutheran South Unity School provides for their students. They meet the needs of students by providing them with the best in enrichment roomresources.But Triston, an avid bug collector, doesn't have to explain that to anyone. You can see it in his smile when he tells you about the latest book he's reading.