I’m Dr. Maryalice Turner and I’m the principal of West Central School and Transition services. I want to share with you today. Some of the many reasons you might want to consider our school for your child, we have many options for you and we think our transition program is the best in the state of Ohio.
Our school is very unique. We only serve students who are 14 to 21 year olds and have developmental disabilities. And the reason that we serve them is that we want to specialize on preparing them for their adult life. That’s not only a benefit to them, but it’s a benefit to their family as well, because that’s one of the most challenging things for families as they consider what their child’s going to do after high school.
So at our school students receive instruction and practice on independent living skills. They have skill development for potential future jobs, and they gain experiences in the community, volunteering or working with our partners.
Our curriculum is unique learning systems and it encompasses academics, life skills and transition. Within this curriculum, it allows students to learn same age material on their developmental level.
We offer all of our students, our classes. It’s not only so that they can have exploration of different mediums, whether it’s clay or painting or block printing, but they also have the exposure to the variety of elements of color and, and different textures. The textures are particularly important for students with disabilities. Those with sensory needs or with autism typically shy away from those experiences and we want to make sure that we provide them lots of ways to see that these things can be enhancing.
Along with art we provide music classes. Our music program is wonderful because it, we have adaptive equipment in the music program. We have bells that students can play even if they have the slightest ability for movement, they can use our bells. We have African drums for all of our students to try whether it’s the rhythm or whether it’s just touching the leather top of a African drum.
We also have Adaptive Physical Education for our students. And our APE teacher is very adapt at creating individual stations that are tailored to the skill set of the students. So they can explore a treadmill or they can explore, adaptive basketball. Or using hoops or playing with a parachute.
Every day is a different adventure and every day they’re using their bodies and they’re experiencing something that’s exciting and interesting and leads directly to their skillsets in Special Olympics, which is another program that we certainly sponsor and support in our program here.
Our swimming program is staffed with an aquatic staff. These folks are dedicated to helping every child have a unique experience in the water. And the pool is unlike any that I’ve seen. It is heated and it is therapeutic. There’s a shallow end and a deep end. Students are fully supported the entire time that they’re in the water and many times they’re actually in the water with their occupational or physical therapy staff member while they work the kinks out of their muscles and gain their therapies in the water.
We are a part of the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, so we have the unique opportunity of using agency resources and community connections throughout Franklin County. The Board’s mission is to help people live, learn, and work in the community. And that is the mission of our school to help our students have success in living, learning, and working in the community.
Just like other schools we have many fun activities for our students. They get to go into the community, they get to go to concerts. We have people come here and play instruments or sing. We host things like prom. We have holiday concert that the students all participate in and there’s as many opportunities as possible for socialization, with other peers in the community.
We also have Transition Specialists on our staff who learn the families and the neighborhoods that they come from and the types of challenges that they might face. Transition Services is person centered and ability focused. We have many opportunities here in school and in our community to build vocational and daily living skills.
We also have lots of community partners where our students have the opportunity to volunteer and explore socially. Our goal is to provide a roadmap towards adulthood for students and their families, through the support of their teacher, our transition specialist and our therapist.
We have four different kinds of therapy in our school; Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Pathology, and Vision Therapy for any students who are visually impaired.
At our school, we have a group of highly experienced therapists who have worked in this population for several years. We have access to a wide variety of specially adapted equipment to help our students become as independent as possible and as successful as possible in their future endeavors.
Every aspect of our school from our sensory rooms and our therapy rooms to our therapeutic, heated swimming pool. To the technology that we use in the classroom and in the hallways and in the community West Central School, we are current up to date with our electronics in the classroom.
We use interactive projecting boards, For teachers and students to communicate back and forth. We also have augmentative speech devices. we use switches, the big Mac switch and other switches to allow interaction, to take place. But our technology goes beyond the classroom, into our safety equipment. The Hoyers that we use, the changing tables that we use for the students, the side liners that we have, they are all beneficial for the students’ comfort and also their wellbeing.
We have specialized spaces in our school such as our transition resource room and three different sensory rooms. The transition resource room is a safe place for them to learn skills without being out in a job, they can learn how to fold towels for hotel. They can do library distribution stocking, and they can also work in a grocery store, stocking shelves or moving things that need to be moved. These experiences allow our students, the practice that is essential for their success. when they do have those experiences outside of her school.
The three sensory rooms are highly unique. One is for calming and assist students who have stress to feel calm in this environment with the heated water, bed, and lights that are calming and soothing. We also have a sensory room that is supports gross motor needs. Many students need weighted vests, or need a weighted carts to push. And others need more exposure to fine motor. So that sensory area provides them those experiences as well.
Many of our students have medical needs. Some are medically fragile. Some have seizures. They’re on a variety of medications and we have two full-time nurses on staff to ensure that they’re supported medically.
We have a fleet of vans and the use of shuttles, which allows us to take our students into the community on a daily basis.
Our Smart Apartment mirrors, life and an apartment with a full kitchen bedroom, laundry room and living room. Smart Apartment is a familiar environment that allows us to teach students cooking skills, washing dishes, doing the laundry, and they can just practice those skills over and over and then they can take those skills that they’ve learned and take it into adulthood or maybe into the group homes or, you know, in adult settings that they’ll be in.
Our Smart Apartment was put together through a grant because we wanted to be able to show families what remote monitoring could look like. And so if you have an adult child that you want to live independently, you’re able to see what it would be like to have cameras positioned appropriately through the apartment, monitoring their daily activities in a safe way.
Our staff has specialized experts have an average total of 20 years experience. Along with that, many of them have family members or children of their own with special needs. So they’re dedicated to this field and they understand the challenges and the opportunities that are available for our students.
In a typical high school students complete their program at age 18, but they may have three more years of time left to be in their school prior to their individual education plan expiring. We want to serve these students through age 21 so that they have intensive support for their transition plan. They can still obtain their diploma once they complete our program. So they can have the benefit of their high school diploma and the benefit of our transition program to lead them towards their adult life.
Here at West Central School, we look at the students’ preferences, interests, and needs and strengths and build from there.
To learn more about our program and how it could be an opportunity for your child, feel free to call us for more information or for a tour or you can also call your district special education director.
Either way we look forward to meeting you and helping you with your child’s transition needs.