For the second year in a row, Seguin ISD’s Matador Special Services Department received a grant from the Texas Education Agency.

Last year the department received $779,050 to develop the Whole Child Learning Center at Ball Early Childhood Center. With the success the program has had, the TEA extended the grant, awarding $1 million to the department, SISD director of special education Halcy Dean said.

“It is unbelievable,” she said of receiving the award. “It is just really is a great thing to bring to Seguin and our students. We have some really great kids and families who really want supports and are looking for additional ways to help the student success.”

The center includeds learning space in four classrooms, as well as adjacent rooms for space dedicated to families of students and the community.

“The purpose of the grant is to serve students with facilities, particularly students aged 3 through 9,” she said. “We concentrated our program last year at Ball Elementary with our youngest students with autism and other developmental disorders.We just built a program that was rich in language enrichment, speech therapy, behavioral supports, visual supports, we incorporated a lot of technology and some great training for our staff.”

Dean said the program was successful in “promoting inclusive educational programing and building a rich language environment.”

Receiving the initial funds came with overwatch from the state organization, Dean said.

“TEA visits all of the programs and really had a lot of positive things to say about what we had going and have called a couple of times and they are really thrilled with our progress,” she said.

With the additional funds, Dean said the program can expand and grow with the children.

“We’re trying to take advantage of some of the unique things we have, like our great weather, and building some outdoor classroom spaces, a gardening center for our students,” she said. “We’re tying to partner with community members to bring art and music support to our students and more community outings, so our kiddos get more used to being included in our community. And adding the supports to go up to kindergarten in the other elementaries.”

Additionally, Dean would like the center to become a model program for other area districts.

“We’re hoping to become a training center for other teachers in the region, even for other school districts to come get training on supports needed to help young students with autism function in the campus,” she said. “We’ve done lots of training and invited other school districts to come as well.”

The program’s success comes from the faculty and staff at Ball Early Childhood Center, Dean said.

“The team at Ball Elementary has been fantastic,” she said. “Laura Flack, the principal just works so hard every day to support our students and instill the programs and she is really working for our students. I can’t say enough about the faculty and staff at Ball.”

 

Felicia Frazar is the managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at felicia.frazar@seguingazette.com

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