Friday, February 13, 2015

So much love in the air!

Today was without a doubt my favorite Valentine's Day to date. Our kids made Valentines for each other and their buddy teachers, and received an outpouring of love from their new friends in their buddy classes. I love your children so much, and seeing them so filled with joy and being loved so much by our wonderful Sexton Mountain community...amazing.
Happy Valentine's Day, have a great long weekend!

With our allergy and diet friendly snack project!

Kissing strawberries

Buddy teacher valentines!

Surprise love letters from our buddy classmates

Love is in the air

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Autism Awareness, Buddy Classes, and One School One Theme

Exciting things are happening here at Sexton Mountain! We already have such an accepting and inclusive environment, but working with our principal, Mrs. Clemens-Brower, and all of our incredible general education teachers, we're taking it a few steps further!

Autism Awareness Presentations-This month, Amanda and I are visiting each general education class in the school and giving a short presentation on Autism Awareness. The presentations are simple: we're talking about how individuals with Autism's brains work a bit differently, particularly in the areas of communication, social skills, sensory processing and routines/stereotypic behaviors. We bring visuals and sensory tools, to share the ways we work with some of the students in our classrooms. We give kids ideas for how they can be responsible, respectful and supportive friends for children with all kinds of needs and abilities. The response has been great! I am getting tons of comments and questions from kids of all ages, and the increased awareness and acceptance is already clear.

Visuals, tools and resources that I bring to classes for Autism Awareness Presentations

Buddy Classes-Mrs. Clemens Brower had a great idea...What if each class in the school got to know a student from another class that was the same age? A new friend that they could learn about and make efforts to talk to and get to know better at recess? After talking with Amanda, myself and the school's leadership team, we decided to start the Buddy Class program. Thanks to all your support of this idea, this week we started our buddy class introductions. We used the "spotlight on you posters" that you made last weekend and visited our new class. This has been so exciting! Already we have new friends greeting us as we walk down the hall, and new opportunities for play at recess! Looking forward to getting to know our new classes better in the future!

Raising hands and laughing with new friends as we talked about things we had in common

Talking about our favorite subjects at school

One School One Theme-In years past, each spring we have celebrated One School One Book at literacy night and the weeks preceding. This year, Sexton Mountain has decided to read different books based on grade level, but around the same topic. This year, we will read a few books that look at Autism. Two of the selections, Rules and My Brother Charlie are some of my personal favorite stories, and if you haven't checked them out, I would highly recommend them! Both are written from the perspective of a child who has a sibling with Autism. They share about Autism, some of the struggles they have as a family, but above all, they share about the love and joy they share with their siblings. I am excited for our school to celebrate this shared literacy and awareness experience.

Great stories that feature a main character impacted by Autism