The Lead4Change lessons have become a proven, effective way for special needs students to develop and be recognized for their skills. We have seen amazing stories of success among our special needs classes.
Dr. Latasha Jones never underestimates the power of her students. In her Bronx classroom, everyone has the power and the right to be seen as a leader. Students work to earn passes for community service while working through the Lead4Change lessons. Others implement a project in the classroom – giving all students an equal chance to participate at their level.
Students go from being seen as a threat or problem to being seen as leaders who have real solutions for real problems! Some of their past projects include:
> Reducing plastic bottle waste and recycling plastic as a renewable resource.
> Learning about clean water issues and raising funds for Flint, MI water crisis
> Serving meals at the community soup kitchen as their first public interaction in a servant leadership role
> Leading a community coat drive to collect warm clothing for families in need.
Equipping students as leaders is an important process with any student population. Many special needs educators rely on the steps in the lessons to develop students and allow them to practice their new skills.
Ken Moeller, Principal at The Phoenix School of Discovery works with his teachers to implement Lead4Change with autistic students. Providing a safe space and expecting great things allows the Phoenix educators to work together on their students’ projects.
In 2018 students practiced their Elevator Speeches in a real elevator. Teachers made life-sized cardboard cutouts of leaders and students practiced until they could verbalize their message without their notecards. A safe place to practice verbal skills and become aware of the timing for a short, concise message produced amazing results!
Across the nation we see special needs educators support and advance their students as leaders, often with rejection and disappointment. In Baltimore, several mainstream schools rejected The Harbor School’s request to present to their students. Students didn’t stop.
Instead, they reached out to schools in other states and 7 countries to join them in their project. They had amazing response and engagement with more than 30 partner schools starting gardens and designing cookbooks for the ingredients they were growing. Overcoming obstacles is a key lesson for leaders.
How can we help you in your special needs classroom? We would be happy to connect you with a participating educator. Every person can become a leader, starting with Lesson 1: Be Your Best Self.
We can all contribute — and we can all learn from the example of these students!