This month’s Bright Spot comes from Karen Butler, a Special Education teacher at Scarsdale High School, who recently participated in an RSE-TASC training on transition assessments.

What were students with disabilities able to achieve?

District-wide, students with disabilities are developing self-determination skills, primarily by helping each other.  Juniors and seniors who have disabilities are volunteering their time to meet with elementary-aged students, also with disabilities.  According to Ms. Butler, the younger students have become more knowledgeable and comfortable with who they are, and the older students are gaining confidence in talking about their disabilities and needs, as well as the strategies they use to manage or overcome them.  Ms. Butler noted that learning to advocate at a young age has helped students better advocate for themselves in college.

What practices or systems made this possible?

Mrs. Butler described a district-wide system where students help each other to develop self-determination skills.  Under the guidance of Resource Room teachers, juniors and seniors with disabilities volunteer and meet with a group of elementary-aged students at an event held at the elementary school.  They discuss their own experiences with having disabilities, sharing their strengths and passions, as well as their challenges and solutions.  The younger students are encouraged to ask questions.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

Students can develop self-determination skills by helping each other.  Beginning the process early, in elementary school, benefits younger and older students alike.