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SOESD / Learning Matters / Newsletter Archive / November 2007 / Superintendent's Message: Teaching with Compassion and Respect

Superintendent's Message: Teaching with Compassion and Respect

Steve Boyarsky

I have had the opportunity to participate in the STEPS Dinner Dance and the Klamath County STEPS picnic the past several years. I am always impressed with how well mannered and friendly the STEPS students are. Not only are they friendly and considerate but they show amazing compassion toward their peers. These behaviors are clearly taught, reinforced and reinforced some more daily by SOESD staff. The design and implementation of the STEPS program to develop independent and productive members of society is truly something that all SOESD employees can be proud of. We are directly teaching 240 STEPS students in our classrooms this year to be independent and productive members of their communities.

Since I hadnít visited Jackson County STEPS classrooms for awhile, I asked Evelyn Henderson to set up some classroom visits this fall. I especially wanted to see new classrooms, meet new teachers, and new educational assistants. It is very rewarding to see the quality of teaching, the compassion of our staff, the focus on appropriate behavior, the unbelievable patience and the respect given to the students. Evelyn knows the background of each student and can point with pride to the strides made in their behavior and academic performance. These gains might not be visible on a daily basis, but when I hear about the gains over months and years, it is remarkable.

I also hear stories from parents about the positive support, the compassion and the respect shown to our STEPS students. Raising a developmentally disabled child can be very challenging, physically tiring and emotionally draining. I have spoken to STEPS parents who are incredibly grateful to SOESD for the programs we have provided. They are also thankful for teaching and counseling them on how to modify the home environment for their childís benefit. Parentsí comments are heartwarming and heartfelt. My wife recently took my visiting mother to a local beauty salon. One of the stylists has a STEPS student and was so complimentary and thankful for what the STEPS program has accomplished in her daughterís growth.

Thank you Marilyn, Cynthia, Kaye, Kelly, Jeanne, Melinda, Kathy, and Allyson for sharing your classrooms. Thank you to all the STEPS teachers and EAs for providing student instruction that allows them to function independently and with dignity. Thank you for all the support from specialists who design programs for feeding, physical accommodations, vocational training and behavior management. We are all proud of what our students accomplish in developing skills and behavior for independent and fulfilling lives.              




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