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Teaching Students: A 30-Year Vocation

Peg Ballard’s vocation has always been to teach students. It began more than thirty years ago with a small parent cooperative for families whose children did not fit the mainstream education system and continued as the cooperative grew and evolved into Linden Grove School. It continued until her retirement earlier this year.

Ms. Ballard’s dedication showed daily in her classes: in giving careful instructions, in responding to “off topic” comments and calmly redirecting students, and in allowing students the time they needed to process information and formulate a response. Ms. Ballard enjoyed getting to know students and “what makes them tick” — then she knew how to motivate them and help them learn!

Ms. Ballard took joy in her students and activities throughout the school: she cheered students racing up and down the hallways in an “Olympic” relay, and delighted as students entered her room to carefully and thoughtfully take pictures for an art project.

It was always all about the students.

Thank you, Ms. Ballard, for your 30 years of service. You will be missed.

Outstanding Generosity Ensures Cancelled Fundraiser Surpasses Goal

LGS’s 2020 Signature Event netted more than $75,000 — surpassing its fundraising goal — despite the cancellation of the actual dinner and entertainment in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Thank you to everyone who supported the online auction, raffles, and prize drawings.

Special thanks to this year’s sponsors:
Presenting Sponsor: Hunt Development Corporation
Supporting Sponsors: BHI General Contracting LLC and Brandicorp LLC
Entertainment Sponsor: Lithko Restoration Technologies LLC
Contributing Sponsor: M. Ellis & Associates LLC
Event Sponsor: Taft Law

Class of 2020 Reflects Diverse Interests, Shared Memories

Linden Grove School graduates reflect a diversity of interests and ambitions. Some look forward to utilizing the skills they developed at Linden Grove School to achieve academic success in high school and perhaps college. Others indicate a desire to continue exploring personal interests and improving their social skills.

Students also differ in their favorite memories of LGS. Some recall creating a racing car using a pumpkin, while others recollect the annual Fall Dance. What they agree on: they will miss their friends and their time together in fun class activities or simply hanging out during lunch.

Top, left to right: Alanya Ozdil with Justin Ulrich at the Fall Dance; Tazz Siekman succeeds in robotics class; Max Hall with classmates Zander Naegele and Ben Bartlett show off their creation for The Great Pumpkin Race. Bottom, left to right: Mrs. Sigurdson helps Erika Thomas measure ingredients for an apple crisp; Tyrone Gray shows off his jersey on Team Spirit Day.

Learning, Supports and Sense of Community Maintained amid Social Distancing

Given only a few days’ notice of a school closure in anticipation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Linden Grove School teachers showed their flexibility in adapting academic lessons to distance learning. As the closure extended through April into May, teachers posted and received assignments utilizing Google Classroom, assignments ranging from subtraction worksheets, to learning about world cultures through art projects, to writing a poem about their favorite food.

In addition to academic assignments, speech and occupational therapists utilized an Internet-based system for weekly 1:1 sessions, and behavior staff provided consultations via phone.

To help everyone stay connected and maintain LGS’s sense of community, video conferencing enabled Morning Meetings for students to share with each other and practice social interactions. Posted images from weekly Spirit Days encouraged fun and helped maintain relationships among students, staff, and even LGS therapy dogs!

Linden Grove School is grateful to staff and family members who helped students stay engaged and connected during this unique time

Students Find Purpose and Happiness in Helping Others

Applied Skills students learn the value of giving through various activities throughout the year. Every Friday in December, for example, students prepared and circulated a “Sunshine Cart” among the classrooms and offices of Linden Grove School and St. Saviour Parish. The cart was filled with treats ranging from homemade muffins to Reindeer Chow. Students then used Sunshine Cart tips, as well as donations from various sources, to create care packages for homeless individuals.

“Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping, because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you’re a happier person.”  — Goldie Hawn

 

Left: Preparing care packages for the homeless, left to right: Erika Thomas, Justin Ulrich, Tazz Siekman. Right: Applied Skills students and staff with their Sunshine Cart.

Learning and Enrichment through Reading

Reading is an exercise for the mind. While increasing focus and concentration, it improves vocabulary, memory and comprehension. Reading also encourages empathy, inspires creativity and helps broaden students’ horizons. LGS’s curriculum currently includes the books Holes, The Hobbit, Coraline and Zane and the Hurricane. Depending on the season and students’ interests, teachers may also include books such as The Empty Pot, Balloons Over Broadway or There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom.

Record-Breaking Generosity

Linden Grove School’s 2019 Giving Tuesday Campaign generated $55,000 in pledges and contributions — $25,000 more than last year! Combined with the $20,000 Challenge Match, this year’s campaign total exceeded $75,000.

Thank you to everyone who contributed. Together, we are changing lives!

Helping Students Achieve More through Interoceptive Awareness

Interoceptive awareness is gaining attention for its ability to help students achieve more in school, improve their social interactions and increase their general sense of well-being.

The senses of taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing help individuals determine if food smells appetizing or spoiled or if water feels soothingly warm or scalding hot. Interoception, a lesser known sense, helps individuals feel and understand what is going on inside their body; for example, when their stomach or bladder feels full or when their heartbeat is fast and their muscles tensed.

Interoception sessions help students perceive information from their body so they may respond appropriately. A student sensing a rapid heartbeat during an exam may respond by taking deep, slow breaths. Another student, sensing his muscles tense up during a game with a classmate, may remind himself “it’s only a game” and focus on being a “good sport.”

Ultimately, interoception sessions help individuals better manage their behaviors, emotions and thoughts to improve success at school, at work and in their personal lives.

Visual Supports Help Students Communicate and Learn

Most people with autism think in pictures. They have a hard time finding words to express their thoughts, so they’ll internally visualize pictures to help them find the appropriate words. It’s as if they have a virtual Rolodex of pictures in their head and as they’re speaking they’re referencing those images and equating them to words.

Linden Grove School uses visual supports in a variety of ways.

For students who are less verbal, they are provided with visuals to help them communicate their needs and wants while helping them to build their internal Rolodex. For example, they may be provided with images to indicate if they prefer to go out to the playground or use an iPad during free time.

Visuals are also used to communicate school schedules and to illustrate steps in a task, whether a science experiment, a writing assignment, or a recipe for making breakfast sandwiches.

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