In just a few very busy weeks, about 45 teachers, therapists, and counselors created summer school kits for the 700 children that are now participating in Orange-Ulster BOCES Special Education virtual/remote summer school. These kits include workbooks that were created by BOCES staff, and the kits include the love that our teachers have for their students.
“Nothing takes the place of coming to school and seeing your teachers and your friends, but this team of amazing people gave their all to make summer school come alive in the homes of each of our students,” said Kerri B. Stroka, Director of Special and Alternative Education for OU BOCES.
The learning kits, built around an amusement park theme, feature instructional workbooks and accompanying materials and supplies students needed to work on weekly projects. The learning kit materials were put together with consideration of what kinds of things students needed to engage in hands-on learning activities but might not have in their house. So, in addition to pencils, crayons and paper, some kits included thera-putty that occupational therapists specified or a beach ball that the physical therapist would need for their session.
“We heard our parents tell us what their children were missing once we went remote in March,” Stroka said, adding that parents were concerned about how much computer time students were being asked to log. “Our focus for the summer has shifted more to hands-on learning activities for our students wherever possible while trying to limit students’ screen time. And, to do hands-on, students need materials and supplies. We’re so happy to be able to get these kits to our children.”
The workbook’s design and production all happened at Orange-Ulster BOCES. The Communications Department has worked tirelessly to create the graphics and print the workbooks themselves, all in a way that is intended to be appealing to their students.
Para-educators and clerical staff bound the workbooks and packed the boxes all in anticipation of them arriving in the hands of eager summer school students.
“The effort and thoughtfulness that went into this is just so amazing,” said Amanda Petryk-Tirado, whose daughter was the first student to get one of the kits. “These last few months have been so challenging, and I am so blown away by how BOCES is really working to reimagine virtual learning by providing all these resources to families.”
The BOCES Health and Safety Department ensured that everyone remained safe and followed all Department of Health guidelines while working in the buildings to produce these kits.
The Assistant Principals and Coordinator of Transition Services have overseen the entire process from the beginning to delivery day.
“Orange-Ulster BOCES is an amazing place to work, and we have amazing children to work for,” said Kerri. “The love all of the staff have for our students is palpable in these summer school kits. Every hand that touched them – and every mind that dreamed them - did so with unwavering commitment.”