Clover Park School District serves a diverse community and is committed to providing students with the best educational opportunities possible. More than 17 percent of our students qualified for special education, and schools are focused on providing resources and programs necessary to help them thrive.
Special education students are one of the fastest growing populations in our district. Ensuring they receive the support necessary to help them succeed in the classroom requires utilizing best practices to serve them. Two Clover Park schools have taken a new approach to special education with that goal in mind.
Custer and Idlewild elementary schools have been working the past several years to increase the integration of their students with intensive needs in self-contained programs with their grade-level peers, according to their individual educational programs. A self-contained special education classroom is one in which the special education teacher is responsible for the instruction of all academic subjects.
“In special education, we have learned that students do better when they have access to the core curriculum and their grade level peers as much as appropriate for their individual needs,” said Special Education Director Michaela Clancy. “The teams at Idlewild and Custer have been working with their schedules and staff to ensure students are provided access to the general education classroom while making sure to provide the support they need to succeed in their individualized learning programs.”
The district uses an independence matrix to determine what part of their education each special education student needs assistance with and what part each student can do independently. Special education staff are present in classrooms to help students when necessary.
Lochburn Middle School will begin a similar approach to special education in the spring, utilizing a grant from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to support the increase in inclusionary practices.
Evergreen Elementary School on JBLM
Educators at Evergreen Elementary School on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) have access to some of the best resources available for teaching students with special needs. JBLM is designated a compassionate care site, which means military families who have children with disabilities are often placed on the base over other assignments.
Funding provided by the military and a strong partnership with Madigan Army Medical Center next door makes Evergreen a great place for special education students to flourish. Families have access to robust self-contained programs and early learning services, students play on adapted playground equipment and the school is able to actively coordinate health services with Madigan.
Evergreen, along with our other on-base schools, has access to a developmental pediatric fellow to work collaboratively with staff to support students through the Developmental Pediatric Fellowship Program at Madigan.
“We built Evergreen to be able to accommodate a special education population with intensive needs,” Clancy said. “Our partnership with Madigan is very strong and allows us to provide top notch school, behavioral and health services.”
Students districtwide benefit from the programs and resources available at Evergreen. While families living on base have more direct access, many of the staff, materials and equipment needed to support JBLM students are also available for students in Clover Park’s off-base schools.
Extra Preparation for Work, Life
June is an exciting month for secondary students in Clover Park. Graduation provides them an opportunity to celebrate their high school careers and look forward to bright futures. It’s no different for students who attend Alfaretta House.
Alfaretta House is a community-based transition program for students aged 18-21 to take extra steps before leaving the academic world behind. Alfaretta students learn important life and work skills and maximize their employability and independence as they transition into their lives post-graduation.
Students in the program learn budgeting, cooking and transportation skills with the intention of allowing them to live as independently as possible. The district partners with local businesses to find jobs for Alfaretta students to work while in the program, and most students transition out of Alfaretta already employed at a job site that fits their needs.
“I think Alfaretta House fits our mission and vision here at Clover Park School District,” said Alfaretta Principal Venetia Willis-Holbrook. “We are maximizing their potential and giving them the extra time in school they need to be successful.”
Most Alfaretta students graduate with their high school class, but they also get another chance to celebrate their success when they transition out of the Alfaretta program. At a transition ceremony at the district’s student services center each spring, families, staff and community members celebrate with students and hear from them about their journey and the independent future that awaits them.