Special ed

Photo by Maria Orozco, Banning Unified School District

From left, students Amir, Edgar, Ryan, Jovanna, Jose, Alexandra, with Rogelio seated in the foreground. Their teacher Jeanne Riddle is at the wheel of the van.

BY BARBARA WOLFORD

Director of Student Services, Beaumont Unified School District

A new van is helping adult Special Education students enjoy greater independence and more vocational and life skills training.

Their teacher Jeanne Riddle says the van is shuttling her students to local businesses for job shadowing, to grocery stores and restaurants for life skills training, and to cultural events for enrichment. The nine-passenger, Ford van has plenty of room for Adult Transition students, their teacher, and classroom aides.

“It’s making a big difference in the lives of our students,” Riddle says.

Empowering lives through Special Education

Riddle teaches seven adult Special Education students under the auspices of Banning High School at the Coombs Alternative Education campus. The program is designed to help students with learning disabilities, autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities. Adult Transition Classes are open to Special Education students between the ages of 18 and 22.

Before the new vehicle arrived, Riddle and her students used other vans operated by the Banning Unified School District. Now, the students have a van to call their own.

“It’s so comfortable, we love it,” says Jovanna, 21, who lives in Banning.

The $30,000 van was purchased using money from the School-Based Medi-Cal Administrative Activities Program (SMAA.) Banning Unified received the money as reimbursement for providing Medi-Cal services.

Exploring new opportunities

With their new van, adult Special Education students find it easy to be out in the community where they can explore new opportunities and make friends in an open, welcoming environment, Riddle says.

The students learn how to do their own grocery shopping, eat out at a restaurant, stock merchandise at a retail store, and just experience daily life. They’re already working as volunteers at the District’s preschool and cafeteria.

“Our goal is to provide maximum independence for young adults with different intellectual abilities,” Riddle says.

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