Senior Sammy Le handed junior Tyler Dubas pizza boxes hand-stamped by the special education students for Pizza West on Friday, Jan. 26. She smiled and patted the spot in the shopping cart where he needed to set them.
Twelve students, including Le, met every block except Silver 1 to mentor special education students like Dubas. Tasks like stamping pizza boxes gave special education students practical experiences to participate in. Special education teacher Rachel Rada appreciated the benefits of the class, but believed it could always expand.
“I’ve had a great group of kids this year,” Rada said. “But [the class] can always improve. It would be nice to see more boys involved since I have all boy students.”
While in class, Friends in Learning students worked with the special education students on social and daily living skills such as real world math and reading, trips to the grocery store, job coaching and arts and crafts.
Though Le enjoyed helping the special education students, the task required a lot of patience, a responsibility she found difficult.
“Sometimes you have to be really, really patient,” Le said. “It’s easier to just do everything for [the students], but you really just have to cater to their learning style.”
Maintaining relationships with the special education students proved to require just as much effort as the average relationship.
“[Students with disabilities] are just like us,” Le said. “They have days when they’re cranky and just want to be by themselves. But there are other days when they’re really social.”
Along with the other Friends in Learning students, senior Hannah Brinker built and maintained relationships with the special education students by greeting them in the hallways and helping them get along, a key part of the class.
“I feel like I have a strong relationship with the students,” Brinker said. “I love being around all of them.”
Rada said that Friends in Learning also helped students stand up for their peers with disabilities.
“[This class] helps the general education students advocate for their peers and break down any misconceptions of students with disabilities,” Rada said. “My students [also] learn how to advocate for themselves.”