Special Education Transition for Friendship Academy Students

As part of Watson’s goal to prepare students for the special education transition post-graduation, Rebecca Muntean was added to the Community Based Vocation team at Friendship Academy. In this role, she is able to utilize her experience as an instructional aide working with students with behavioral and mental health challenges at the school. Becca wanted to give students at the special education school an opportunity to express themselves while learning pre-vocational skills to better prepare for their special education transition post-graduation through creative writing and art.

Students at Friendship Academy range in age from 5 to 21 and struggle with emotional and behavior challenges and may also receive mental health services throughout the school day. Through the Community Based Vocational Experiences (CBVE) program, students are encouraged to explore their vocational interests with the intention of helping them with their transition into adulthood post-graduation.

Becca, a Community Based Vocational Specialist, recognized that creative writing would be a beneficial activity in which children diagnosed with behavior disorders and/or facing emotional challenges could express themselves without the fear of criticism or failure.

Special Education Transition through Writing and Art Therapy

The process of creating a literary work or piece of art also teaches the students the process of editing and how to handle constructive criticism to improve their submission. Becca feels these skills are vital to being a collaborative employee at any stage in a career and which will help ease special education students’ transition after graduation.

The literary art journal’s title, Hullabaloo!, was chosen to represent the sound of the students’ imaginations at work. As Becca shared, “there’s a lot going on up there in our heads – some ideas funny, others that make us sad, some that motivate us. It can get noisy.” The title, Hullabaloo!, is meant to inspire the students to release some of that noise and use the journal as an outlet for their creativity.

“I’ve found that most people – students and adults alike – have an aversion to writing. To be able to go into a classroom and have that moment in which we’re laughing at our own silly ideas – that moment is truly significant,” shared Becca about the process of encouraging the students to explore their creativity and lean into their ideas.

Student submissions included not only written works but also song lyrics and artwork with students ranging from fourth grade through twelfth and above. The literary art journal was a team project which came together with the help of Friendship’s art and music therapists, English teachers and the CBVE team. Special education teachers and therapists encouraged students to express their creativity outside of the classroom by participating in this project, recognizing the value pre-vocational activities have in ensuring a successful transition after graduation.

Special Education Transition – Pre-Vocational Skills Development

The goal for Hullabaloo! is to expand the special education transition initiative with pre-vocational skills development by organizing a small group of the students who will serve as editors, reading through submissions and learning how to collaborate with their peers to help edit and improve their pieces. Skills such as these are beneficial to the students at Friendship Academy, helping them better prepare and transition into a post-secondary or vocational school or into the workforce after they graduate.

Are you interested in learning more about the Community Based Vocational Experiences (CBVE) program helping students with special needs with their special education transition? Read more and explore the ways Community Based Specialists work with our children with behavioral problems and emotional challenges at Friendship Academy. Also, check out the first edition of Hullabaloo!.