Special Education meeting held

Not all children learn at the same pace, or even through the same methods. Because of this, educators- especially those working in special education — must be ready to work with each child’s individual learning behaviors. The Bell County Board of Education hosted a Southeast/South-Central Educational Cooperative (SESC) training on Friday for upcoming special education teachers in the region to learn how to do just that.

The individualized training program (IEP) brought in several new special education teachers from all across the area, many of whom just recently completed college. However, the meeting also consisted of several who have taught for years, but have decided to redirect their career towards a new path, as teaching those with special needs often provides teachers with a completely different component.

“When the opportunity arose for me to switch to special education I decided I would like to try it,” said former Knox County science teacher, April Helton. “What I love about teaching special education is the relationships you get to build with individual students. They trust you and you are the person they feel they can depend on.”

The session was led by Jim Feger, an educational consultant at SESC, who says the main purpose of the training is to help better prepare teachers with ways to provide consistency and clarity to children with special needs. Special education teachers are brought in and shown various ways to properly identify with and remediate children by developing general education plans.

“I look at this job as a privilege. I get to take my years of experience working with kids with special needs, and then be able to promote those practices to increase the quality of special designed instruction for kids within our region,” said Feger.

Educators left the session raving over the significant knowledge they were able to obtain in only one day, with several claiming to be in awe with just how much they learned from the SESC’s program.

“The program was excellent and the facilitator was exceptional. I feel I gained a lot of needed information that will help me for years to come,” said Helton.

SESC is a non-profit service agency which provides professional learning and support services to 27 different public school districts throughout the Appalachian region. Although beginning as a part of Eastern Kentucky University’s Community Outreach Program in 1991, SESC was — after many years of success — recognized as an independent entity in 2013. The agency’s slogan — “serving others as you serve them” — appears to be quite appropriate considering the various ongoing opportunities being offered to educators through the agency.

SESC hopes to be recognized as Kentucky’s leading educational cooperative by the year 2020 by continuing to provide services that are data-driven, evidence/research-based, and customer-focused. The agency also plans to soon incorporate various delivery methods for such services, including face-to-face and technologically-based delivery.

As the session came to an end, educators were given a short assessment in order to evaluate what they each learned during the program, as well as the opportunity to evaluate Feger and the way he handled operating the session. Then, they were each awarded with a certificate of completion, proving that they attended the program and now have the knowledge to provide specialized teaching methods to special needs students.

Due to the always ongoing growth and change in the education field, educators should be provided with up-to-date ways to stay in touch with those changes. In order to provide this, Feger has made plans to continue ongoing support for the new special educators of the region via Skype sessions.

While details have yet to be revealed, Dr. Mitch Bailey of the Bell County Board of Education also plans to contribute to the growth of special educators in the area. He is currently working on providing a Progress Monitoring Training for special education teachers within the school district in early to mid-October.