Special education department

Ashley Irizarry, Staff Writer

The Starr’s Mill special education department is designed to provide specialized education to those with physical, emotional, and academic disabilities. They aim to give children with special needs the assets and tools they need in order to transition into their life after high school. There are currently 16 active members of the special education department, including teachers and interpreters.

“We want to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to have a successful academic career,” department chair Barbara Thornton said. The special education department creates individual education plans for each student to help maximize success.

“[I want the students] to develop their own independent learning,” special education teacher Mary Lehman said. “I don’t want them to entirely depend on me. I want them to learn strategies to use on their own.”

Special education curriculum is constantly changing, so teachers need to be flexible in their planning and lessons. Additionally, many legal issues are involved to help ensure that children with special needs receive adequate opportunities to succeed. However, the department remains committed to seeing students prosper.

“The kids we work with are not the typical Starr’s Mill students,” Lehman said. “It’s nice to work with special needs and show them they have the same potential as everyone else. Once they recognize that, there’s a greater level of confidence.”