When Lord Beaverbrook High School’s (LBHS) Construction teacher, Josh Overland proposed a new special needs shop class format, he didn’t just get EducationMatters excited, he also piqued the interest of the folks at the Willow Park Golf & Country Club Charity Golf Classic.  Thanks to the combined efforts of both organizations, LBHS is ready to launch their new Adaptive Learning Program (ALP) Construction class!

ALP students have mild to moderate cognitive disabilities and functioning delays, and need some classroom modifications to have the best chance of success in school. It is incredibly important to ensure that ALP students are not segregated from their other school peers and are instead part of an inclusive, welcoming community where students are able to learn alongside and from each other. With that in mind, Josh realized that the usual model of inclusivity where students with special and exceptional needs are invited into a traditional class was not working in the context of shop class and needed an overhaul. ALP students benefit from a slower instructional pace and often need adapted tools and equipment to mitigate physical and cognitive challenges, and a mainstream shop class was not best suited to their needs.

At its best, inclusive classrooms offer benefits to both students with and without disabilities. They help foster diverse friendships, build empathy and understanding, and provide opportunities to teach and be taught. Josh’s idea flipped the model of including ALP students in a typical class to one where students studying in the other workshop programs invited to participate in an ALP class in a Teaching Assistant role. This allows the ALP students to learn the material at their own rate, and provide valuable leadership skills for other students through their role as peer-to-peer mentors, all while working together to develop and create projects to benefit their local community.

Through a combined grant of just over $25,000 from EducationMatters and Willow Park Golf Charity Classic grant, LBHS has been able to purchase new tools and equipment to upgrade their shop and implement the new program. This initiative means more students are developing skills that will be vital for their future after graduation; from the mastery of safe and effective tool use, to designing and building projects, to working effectively with different people with skills that help students be more employable and more successful in the workplace and adulthood.

Community investment is making a difference now that will continue to have impact well into the future – there is so much that donors, like you and Willow Park Charity Golf Classic, can do to help students. Donate to EducationMatters today and help us build a brighter tomorrow for our city.