Tag Archives: Kent STate University Department of Education Health and Human Services

An Inventive Take on Special Education

5 Oct

I know I already wrote a piece on a new educational program at Kent State. I know there are stories from all around the nation that deserve attention. However, last year I was privileged to work for an organization that gave me such an uplifting experience that I can’t help but rave about it.

I was about to enter grad school and desperately searching a part-time job to help pay the bills while I was in school. I was starting to hit panic mode because it had been a month since my contract at my old job had run out and I was not gaining much traction with my job search. Then I was fortunate enough to get a call from Tom Hoza, the director of a brand new program called the Campus Transition Project (CTP).

An Eye-Opening Opportunity

Tom and I met later that afternoon to discuss the CTP. After a few minutes, it became obvious that Tom was putting together something truly remarkable that had the potential to provide life-altering experiences for its students and their families.

Your blogger being hilarious as always.

The objective of the CTP is to help high school students with special needs transition into adulthood. Every day the students were challenged to learn about themselves and the world around them. They were exposed to options they never knew they had before. The students quickly developed passions for new endeavors. For the first time their lives, the students were treated like adults that were going to contribute to society as adults. They responded by exceeding everyone’s expectations.

However, it became obvious they were not receiving the same treatment outside the CTP. With all the reasons for optimism, we knew it was an uphill battle as all the students accomplishments were being undone at school and home.

How the Schools Failed

The students would regularly learn a new skill, yet were unable to apply them in a real-world setting where they were always being treated with kid gloves. For instance, one day we took the class to a laundry mat where they learned how to do their own laundry. They all picked up the skill very quickly. A week later we asked how their new chore was coming along. To our surprise, none of the students’ parents would let them help out with a task they were more than capable of performing.

One student was visually impaired, yet quickly mastered navigating the tricky Kent State campus. After the first few weeks he knew his way around better than the majority of the freshmen on campus. Yet, for some reason he always seemed uncertain of himself. He never quite gained the confidence that he could get around without someone by his side. We figured out the reason for this once his family visited for our open house. His mom wouldn’t let him so much as walk across the room without someone holding his arm and giving him directions he didn’t actually need.

The CTP students were a classic case of the self-fulfilling prophecy. All their lives they have been treated like their disabilities are too detrimental to live an independent and fulfilling life. It makes me wonder how many students with special needs across the country will never live up to their potential because they are treated with kid gloves every day of their lives.

Can the CTP Survive?

Sadly, the future of the CTP is up in the air. It was made possible by a two-year grant with the possibility of extending the program for a long-term basis. It could come to an end in May, or it could be growing strong 100 years from now. Not only does the CTP need to be extended, it needs to be replicated in schools across the country. The first year had astounding results as it helped 11 students find their place in the world. Over the course of the school year they evolved from timid students that always waited to be told how to think and act, to opinionated and productive members of society capable of making an impact on the world.

Keep the CTP Alive

To learn more about the CTP and find out how you can help keep the program alive, contact me at jslanina1@gmail.com or Tom Hoza at thoza@kent.edu. Helping out is as easy as dropping off supplies, contacting your representative, or spending an hour with the students to share some of your expertise.

The Ladies of the CTP

*All photos taken by Jared Slanina

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