PRESCOTT VALLEY-Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB) Superintendent Annette Reichman became deaf as an adult and partially blind in her left eye during childhood, eventually losing complete sight in her left eye later in life. She spoke with students at Coyote Springs Elementary School on Monday afternoon about individuals with impairments. Reichman also mentioned to the students that a couple of new friends would be joining their community next year.
Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, Coyote Springs Elementary School and Glassford Hill Middle School will begin hosting multiple individuals with visual or hearing impairments from across the quad city area and place the students in general education courses.
During an information meeting on Tuesday night, Reichman explained her trouble at school after being bullied when she lost most of her vision in her left eye at the age of thirteen due to a retinal detachment. Reichman hopes the program will teach children about their individual differences.
“If you have enough students in one place that’s different, then it becomes a non-issue,” Reichman said following the meeting. “It becomes just part of the student population, there is no difference in that sense, and the individual students don’t feel isolated.”
An instructor who has experience working with students facing impairments will partner with teachers in order to create an environment of understanding and teamwork among classmates.
“When you put them together in the same classroom, then it’s the best of both worlds,” Reichman said. “You have the teacher modeling the interaction, that collaboration, that mutual respect, that working together and then you are including all the students in the classroom.”
Humboldt Unified School District Director of Special Services Stephanie Rowe, with a committee of other specialized directors in the quad cities, were looking to address a problem where instructors did not have ample time to spend with students because the teachers had to travel across the various schools in the cities. Now, the instructors will be centralized and allow more time for learning and understanding.
“We are giving them (the students) better access to that general ed curriculum and in a quicker manner because they are right there,” Rowe said.
Rowe mentioned the plan is to begin at Coyote Springs Elementary and Glassford Hill Middle School, later expanding to Bradshaw Mountain High School in order for children to grow-up with the program.
In addition, a bus system is planned to pick up the students from their homes across the quad cities and deliver them to the school and back home, allowing easier attendance to the schools.
During the informational meeting, Reichman credited the Humboldt Unified School District and her staff for producing a program not yet seen across the state.
“This is really unique, this is the kind of collaboration that I don’t know happens elsewhere in Arizona,” Reichman said. “The only reason we can attempt to do this is because these people have worked with each other for a long time.”
While the final number is unknown, it was mentioned in the meeting that at least fifteen students would participate in the upcoming school year.