Special needs students getting classroom help

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Special software aimed at helping students with learningdisabilities and hearing impairment will soon be in place aftermeeting with unanimous approval at the Brookhaven School District’sboard of trustees meeting Tuesday night.

Assistant Superintendent James Tillman presented the request forthe purchase of the new system to the board, saying it will be asingle source purchase to be used at Brookhaven Elementary School,Mamie Martin and Lipsey schools.

Superintendent Lea Barrett said the program is aimed at cuttingout hearing problems based on either a child’s inability to hearphysically or placement in the classroom.

“This is an infrared classroom amplification system, and what itdoes is to make sure every child in the classroom can hear evenlywhether they sit at the front or the back or by the wall,” shesaid. “It also helps kids with attention problems, because it evensthe noise out like the teacher’s standing next to every child.”

Barrett said the program comes with a microphone for theteacher, infrared sensors and a speaker system for classrooms withspecial needs.

“Supposedly it’s an improved technology over just a regularloudspeaker,” Barrett said. “It distributes the noise evenly.”

The project has been headed up by Director of Special ServicesStephanie Henderson, Barrett said, and is a part of making theschool district a better place for students of all learninglevels.

“This is not a big purchase, at just under $15,000, but it willdefinitely help some children,” Barrett said. “Our school districtcontinues to look to increase opportunities for children withspecial needs.”

In other business, the board approved the Teacher SupportProgram, which offers an extra $1,000 a year to veteran teacherswho will mentor first-year teachers. Barrett said the program is agood one because in addition to giving new teachers much-neededguidance, it also offers veteran teachers a reason to be mentors tothe newcomers.

The board also showed their appreciation for the schooldistrict’s three National Merit Semifinalists: Hannah Rice, BlaiseBraden and Maggie Cupit.

Brookhaven High School Principal Dr. Jay Smith was on hand tointroduce the students to the board, and allowed them to introducetheir parents as well. Smith told the board how proud the school isto have three semifinalists, and reminded the students to remembertheir roots.

“Remember the people that got you to where you are,” he said.”Remember the teachers who gave you your education.”

At the end of the meeting, board members touted the academicachievements of the three students, saying they have not only doneexcellent academic work, but have been superior representatives ofthe school district.

“We’d like to publicly thank their parents for trusting ourschool district with their education, and thank them for their hardwork,” Barrett said.

Board member Stan Patrick agreed.

“It’s fabulous not only for our schools, but for our districtthat we have students who achieve these high honors,” he said.