All our staff are returning and we have added Marga Pesce as a fourth teacher. Maggie has many great qualifications, but what really sold us was the way her eyes lit up when hearing about our students. Spontaneously, she volunteered how she would engage each child. She will teach English 9, language arts, and science. She and her four-year-old daughter are moving down from Vermont. Welcome Maggie!
We also welcome Katie Reily, who will contract with us as a speech and language pathologist. Every child will receive services in articulation, language, and/or social thinking. Katie has completed the mentor program in Michele Garcia Winner‘s social thinking curriculum, one of only two people in the area with that training. This is one of many arrows in Katie’s quiver, and we are happy to benefit from all of her gifts.
We’ve added the 9th grade and have three students in that program. This year they will take English 9, World History, Earth Science, Spanish or Japanese, math, art, and social thinking. Next year we will add the tenth grade and continue until we have our first graduating class.
We are adding an emphasis in Social Thinking, something that we experimented with last year. Katie will not only work with the students, but she will also coach the teachers in this curriculum. We will send our first teacher to a social thinking conference in October. This emphasis will help our students develop strong skills in communicating, having healthy social relationships, sharing space, and responding to those around them.
With a new teacher, we have added a fourth classroom. Like the others, it has high ceilings, big windows, and hardwood floors.
Swings! I haven’t mentioned the swings! Thanks to a generous donation, we will be adding two swings for our students’ enjoyment.
Thanks to St. Thomas More Academy in Raleigh, we have several new bookcases and tables, along with a skeleton for our science room.
And, most important, we’ve added seven new students to our ten returning students. We still have spaces for three more, but we hope to hold steady at twenty this year.
Many things haven’t changed. We will still have Ryoko Honeycutt teaching Japanese and Sarah Flanary, assisted by Ms. Pesce, teaching Spanish. Natalie Mason, from A Place to Grow, will be providing individual occupational therapy to our students who chose to do this. The merry-go-round still spins and Lockhart’s Trading Post will continue to bring us lunch once a week. Mr. P’s puppets still visit on a regular basis. Our students will continue earning points every 15 minutes, based on being kind, following directions, and participating in a positive way. There will be plenty of movement and hands-on learning.
As we start our second year, we offer our profound gratitude to all who have helped build JRA into a safe and educational place for some of the most brilliant kids around.