FROM: Sharone Hardesty, Educational Consultant-December2010/January 2011
RE: Proyash School, Dhaka, Bangladesh
BACKGROUND & OBSERVATIONS:
Students are admitted by referral and are from both military and non-military families. Students are picked up in the morning and returned to their homes in the afternoon by school vans. At the time of this examiner’s visit, the students and staff were on vacation and thus no educational/academic/social, emotional//vocational activities were observed. The school week is five days. Students participate in morning exercises held outdoors after which time, students return to their classrooms to begin their school day. A well designed outdoor playground was observed and this examiner was assured that students took full advantage of this area frequently. In addition, outside construction of a basketball court, bocce court, and small swimming pool was in process.
This examiner was introduced to other service professionals and their service areas that included occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and music therapy.
All classrooms were clean, spacious, airy, neatly organized, windowed, and included colorful artwork on the walls.
One classroom was designated as an ‘intake classroom’—one where new students are initiated into the routines and expectations of the school as well as the academic, social, emotional, and vocational elements. Again, this examiner believes this is a well thought out and essential component that helps to facilitate student success
PARENTS: Due to school vacation, this examiner was unable to meet with parents. However, the administration has designated a ‘parent room’ where parents can meet with other parents during the school day to discuss individual & personal issues relating to raising special needs children. This examiner was impressed at the foresight of the administration to include this opportunity for parents.
TEACHERS: This examiner was able to meet with about 50% of the teaching staff in a conference setting. Teachers were encouraged to ask specific questions about classroom management, current research, and current best practices in education of special needs students as well as to ask questions about specific students and fulfilling their specific academic, emotional, & vocational needs. Teachers were very attentive and actively engaged in the questioning & discussion time. This period of interaction was positive and productive. It is believed that this experience has value and should continue either in person or by a computer/Skype system. Their questions, responses, and enthusiasm for their profession were remarkable.
ADMINISTRATION: The administrator’s position is two-fold: an educational/advisory one and a public relations one. It is essential, according to this examiner, that this position be filled by a person familiar both in knowledge and experience in Special Needs Education. The current Principal/Chief Administrator present on a daily basis was gracious and demonstrated great pride in the school. Beyond that, he was knowledgeable and able to engage in meaningful conversation regarding special needs students/families and their academic, social, emotional, and vocational needs. The current principal was able to contribute valuable information relating to the field of Special Needs Education. It was clear that teachers were being supported and encouraged by a leader who understood the breadth and depth of their contributions to students.
· Teachers should be trained in administration & interpretation of standardized testing for assessment purposes. This examiner specifically recommends the Woodcock Johnson III-Achievement Tests (WJIII) and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) for expressive & receptive vocabulary.
· Teachers should be given paid professional development opportunities at the university level to keep current with practices, research, and methods in Special Education.
· All students should continue to be involved with Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech/Language Therapy services according to their needs on a daily basis.
· The curriculum should continue to involve a physical activity component (more than the morning exercises and playground) on a daily basis and all students should be required to participate.
· All teachers should be professionally trained n Behavior Modification techniques
· Transition plans should be included in annual meetings for individual students beginning at age fourteen.
· Community field trips should be included in the curriculum for students deemed appropriate. Note: community field trips should be a goal for all students but for some there will be a period of preparation and practice/role playing prior to these events.
· A library area where students can learn and experience the value of written text, quiet time, and respect for others quiet time,
· A Time-out room complete with safety features to include padded walls & floor.
· A designated staff person who develops relationships with community organizations to provide career opportunities for graduating students.
· Provide unpaid experience for university students pursuing degrees in Special Education to work with staff and students.