At the Watson Institute’s special education schools, staff work with our students to ensure they are meeting their educational goals as outlined in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Staff also highlight the importance of helping students with special needs develop and expand their emotional and social skills through service learning.
Over the past few months, students and staff at Watson’s schools have given back to our community through a variety of fundraising activities. Participation in service learning is an important way to teach our students that they can affect positive change in their community and further helps develop their self-esteem and social skills.
As one special education teacher at Friendship Academy put it, “this is a great way to develop empathy which is a very necessary characteristic that our students need to display. If we can teach them to feel for others then we can help them develop a better self-concept and see themselves as human beings who do good things in this world.”
Students with Special Needs Support Community
Following the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, students and staff at the Watson Institute Education Centers in Bridgeville and Sewickley knew they wanted to do something to help.
At the Education Center South, classrooms held a Penny War to raise money which is being donated to the American Red Cross to support the disaster relief efforts. Students, staff and families got into the spirit of the Penny War and through their efforts raised over $800!
Staff at the Education Center Sewickley hosted a jeans day fundraiser and brought in over $200 which will also be donated to the American Red Cross disaster relief operations fund.
At Friendship Academy, a Watson special education school for students with emotional and behavioral health challenges, community service has become a core focus each month. Special education teacher, Samantha Vasy, and social worker, Vanessa Veltre, teamed up to launch a monthly service project encouraging students to brainstorm the various causes and ways in which they will support the cause each month.
In October, Ms. Vasy’s class chose to dedicate their monthly efforts to supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the fight against breast cancer. Many students and staff at Friendship Academy have loved ones battling cancer so they decided to sell pink ribbons which the students made and placed on a tree display in the school hallway. Throughout the month of October, staff and families were able to purchase their ribbons, and through this sale, the students raised $185 which they presented to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in person this week.
At the WISCA special education school, their charitable activities were inspired by the passing of student’s beloved service dog, Sophia. Students and staff have been collecting pet-themed items such as food, toys, treats, bedding and bowls, as well as leashes and other items, all of which were donated to Animal Friends along with monetary donations that have been collected. WISCA students also plan to make fleece blankets which will be donated to Humane Animal Rescue in Sophia’s memory.
All of the service learning activities in which Watson Institute students with special needs have participated help them learn and grow as individuals. Charitable activities help our students learn empathy and build on their self-esteem.
If you want to learn more about the Watson Institute, check out our special education school programs!