Special visit on September 11 featured a tour and roundtable discussions with teachers and students focused on “rethinking school”
Today, teachers, students, administrators and alumni from The RSEC Academy in Amherst welcomed senior officials from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) in Washington, D.C. The RSEC Academy was one of two schools in New Hampshire selected as stops on the agency’s 2018 Back to School Tour because of its best practices and successful models for delivering special education services.
Johnny Collett, Assistant Secretary and Kimberly Richey, Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. DOE’s Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), toured The RSEC Academy’s Amherst, New Hampshire, campus and met with teachers, students, and alumni to discuss the unique and creative individualized approaches to education that are in place at RSEC and its five affiliated programs.
Collett, a former Kentucky state special education director and high school special education teacher, leads OSERS in its mission to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. Richey serves as advisor to the U.S. secretary of education on matters related to the education of children and youth with disabilities, as well as employment and community living for youth and adults with disabilities.
New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, Andrew Corey, Superintendent of Schools for SAU #41 and chairperson of RSEC’s Board of Directors, and Santina Thibideau, Administrator for the Bureau of Special Education, also participated in the event, which shared how teachers and students work together to overcome learning challenges and be successful.
“RSEC Academy was honored to be selected as one of only two Granite State schools to showcase best practices to national special education officials,” said Janet Reed, director at The RSEC Academy, a not-for-profit high school designed for students with learning challenges who were unsuccessful in traditional academic settings. “Our goal was to shine the light on our amazing teachers and students, and the importance of one-on-one instruction and flexibility in meeting students where they are academically and socially to build trusting relationships.”
The tour included visits to The RSEC Academy High School’s AP History classroom, reading center, science lab, and its affiliated middle school program. Along the way, Assistant Secretary Collett and Deputy Assistant Secretary Richey had discussions with teachers, students, and former students about what types of special education services worked best for them, and the unique stories and experiences that brought them to The RSEC Academy. A roundtable of teachers discussed the importance of understanding students as people first, helping them navigate not only challenges at school, but in their communities as well. RSEC’s approach integrates social thinking and personalized curriculum to help students earn their diplomas and be prepared for what comes next.
“The mission of The RSEC Academy is to help students become self-confident, independent, lifelong learners and critical thinkers with the necessary skills to be caring, productive citizens of a global society,” said Judy Koch, executive director for RSEC, an educational collaborative and partner to school districts across the state comprised of five specialized programs for students with learning challenges.
For more information about RSEC and its affiliated programs for students with learning challenges, visit rsec.org.