Back to school since November, small groups of K-12 students with special needs are thriving in our Integrated Learning Center (ILC) and Community Based Services (CBS) programs. These photos and stories showcase the joy, learning and challenges of students and special education staff in our ILC and CBS classrooms.
We say “Thank You!” to our incredible staff, students and families who are the first in Highline to test hybrid learning during a global pandemic.
Our amazing ILC and CBS teachers and paraeducators are serving our students in new and creative ways—making connections and meeting special needs—all with masks, face guards, sanitizing routines and Zoom in the classroom to reach specialists, therapists and other students at home.
Library, music and P.E. teachers, occupational and physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists connect with ILC classes via Zoom connections facilitated by classroom staff.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has paused the opportunities for our CBS students to intern in the community, but teachers are providing daily structure, learning and life skills. Students in some CBS classes learned about current events, took a socially distanced walk, picked up the mail, did some cooking and practiced job skills.
Zero cases of COVID have been traced to these in-person classes.
We visited three of our schools (Shorewood Elementary School, Tyee High School and Community Based Services) to show you what in-person learning looks like right now in our ILC and CBS classrooms. We asked what some of our teachers, paraeducators and parents think about how it is going.
Here are their photos and stories.
Shorewood Elementary School: Integrated Learning Center
"Our families are wonderful and so supportive. School looks different than it did pre-COVID, but our paraeducators work hard and are thoughtful about keeping our students socially distanced from each other. We have our fears, but on the other hand, we are enjoying our students."
— Sue Smith, ILC Teacher, Shorewood Elementary School
“While we are all happy to see our students and work with them, for me the risk is always in the back of my mind. That being said, seeing real progress our students are making is what makes this job and its current risks worthwhile. I also feel extremely valued by our families and grateful for their appreciation for what we are doing.”
—Debbie Gard, ILC Paraeducator, Shorewood Elementary School
Tyee High School: Integrated Learning Center
“Zowie is a girl who loves being at school, the staff, classes and her peers. Last spring was hard on her, not being able to see anyone. Now she looks forward to going to school and her Zoom time. She is good at following all the rules at school. She wants to do her best and continue to go to school in person.”
—Katie Ethridge, Tyee parent
During part of the afternoon, Tyee High School ILC Teacher Kelly Petska hosts a session that connects students at home with students in the classroom.
“I am really happy with the half-day setup, and I feel like we get a lot accomplished in that time,” Kelly says. “I do have some students who thrived and learned a lot of digital skills but most really need the in-person support to maintain and learn new skills. I also feel like the district provided appropriate PPE and implemented appropriate safety measures.
“The most challenging part is hosting online-only students along with in-person students, especially if we experience in-person behavior challenges.”
“Navigating COVID while teaching has been challenging, but it is all worth it when I see my students.”
—ILC Teacher Sukhi Dhami,Tyee High School
"What brings me joy is working with small groups of Tyee ILC students on this large wall display for Valentine’s Day! We are fortunate they get to see some of their classmates.“
This has been a journey through COVID, including our own fears and the struggle to maintain social distance, but also the joy of interactions. That joy is what wakes me up in the morning—the possibilities of what our students can do and helping them discover their strengths, joys and abilities.”
—Donna Worrell, ILC Paraeducator, Tyee High School
"It's great not to be working from home today!"
—Matt Duffey, LPN, Tyee High School
Community Based Services (CBS) at Woodside Campus
“The Covid shutdown has been a great reminder to focus on what we can do rather than what we can't and that if we continue to hold high standards for our students, we will continue to be amazed by what they show us.”
— Luke McPhee, Teacher, Community Based Services
“I really miss my internship. I can’t wait to go back to ERAC [central office] to greet people.”
— Tyler Earnst, CBS student
“Teaching during the pandemic has definitely had its ups and downs, but it has taught me a lot about myself, my students and my practice. My students have shown such patience, flexibility and maturity over the course of the school year. They continue to amaze me.”
— Lindsay Bogovich, Teacher, Community Based Services
“Mathew has been so happy to be back in the classroom. We have been very happy with the COVID response.”
—Elizabeth Doyle, CBS parent
For the latest information about the plan for additional groups of students to return to in-person instruction, please visit our 2021 Learning webpage.