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A Fun Way to Help Special Needs Students Feel Valued By School Community

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Schools are filled with all kinds of diverse learners, including some students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that give them access to extra learning resources. Support for students with special learning needs varies. Many learners with IEPs are integrated into the same classrooms as other kids. But sometimes, if a student needs more individualized attention, he or she will be part of separate classes for some or all of the school day. That set-up can sometimes make it hard for those children to feel part of the broader school community.

When one San Francisco teacher, Sadie Guthrie, recognized that few teachers at the public middle school where she works knew her special needs students, she came up with a plan. She didn't want the separate classes that her students need for learning to unintentionally segregate them from the rest of the school. So she launched a coffee cart staffed by her students. Now, her students often interact with adults in the building and the local businesses that contribute to the coffee cart. The students practice being responsible and working together.

SoulPancake made a beautiful video about the project, the students and one very dedicated teacher. Check it out.