SPECIAL EDUCATION: Learning turns into a labor of love for Whitko

Editor’s note: The following is the first of a two-part series on the special education services at Whitko Community School Corporation.PIERCETON — Whitko Community School Corporation is delivering improved education to students in need of special attention.Donna Lehman, director of Special Services at WCSC, knows students experience a better future when given every chance to succeed in school.“I want our students to be able to move forward confidently,” said Lehman. “I want them to be able to contribute to our community.”Special Services at WCSC encompasses a variety of needs. Special education services delivers a customized learning experience for students with disabilities as young as three through age 21. “Many people don’t know that the state of Indiana requires us to offer a pre-school environment for kids with disabilities,” Lehman said. “It isn’t just about babysitting children, but getting them ready to enter school. It’s the best way to prepare them so they are better adjusted.” Special education services can work with students separate from a traditional classroom, but Lehman said having these students in a learning environment with their peers helps them learn and feel accepted.Its that passion that has propelled Lehman to broaden the scope of WCSC’s Special Services.Two new programs, High Ability and Limited English, are now offered through the schools.High Ability allows children who learn at a faster pace to move forward in some areas.With the Limited English program, students who may not have English as the primary language spoken at home have special attention given to their language arts learning.Special Services is not a cookie-cutter program. Lehman said most of her teachers develop individualized learning plans and classroom opportunities for each student. When there are more than 300 students classified in the Special Education category alone, teachers are forced to look at each child and each school day as a unique experience.“I tell my teachers that we are here to do what is best for these kids. We want to move them forward and we want to see them succeed,” said Lehman. “From day to day, we have to take the students we have in front of us and decide how to help them today. It may be different tomorrow depending on how that student is doing. But I think our teachers are sensitive to our students’ situations and they are invested in their success.”For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Feb. 15 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.