Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Learning Center students will move into mainstream classrooms

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The new school year brings new opportunities for students enrolled in the Learning Center at Brooke Grove Elementary School in Olney.

Following a Montgomery County Public Schools initiative, students with special needs will spend more time integrated into mainstream classrooms.

New Brooke Grove Principal Gail West said that fourth- and fifth-graders will be assigned to a homeroom and will begin their day with all other students.

They will then go with their Learning Center teacher for academic instruction, and return to the classroom for art, physical education, music, lunch and recess.

They will also join the class for science and social studies.

West said when students with special needs are integrated in the mainstream classroom; they will be accompanied by a Learning Center teacher or a para-educator.

"This is not a drastic change, and we are one of the last Learning Centers that has not already done this," she said. "We know it is in the best interest of the students to be included with the general population."

West said the teachers have undergone training to ensure this is a positive experience for all the children and for the school.

She has also scheduled a meeting for parents of the Learning Center students to help them understand the changes.

"The Learning Center is not going away and we still will have three Learning Center teachers," she said.

West said another reason for making the change is that school officials have to prepare the students for middle and high school.

"Once they move on to middle school, there are no self-contained Learning Centers, so the students are placed in regular classes," she said. "Our job is to prepare them for that."