Local Spotlight: Everyday Heroes
Legacy Point’s affective needs special education team gives so much to their students. They provide individualized academic and social-emotional support for each one. Students are loved and helped to succeed in their personal education and goals.
Legacy Point Elementary (LPE) is one of nearly a dozen elementary schools throughout Douglas County School District that hosts a special education program. LPE hosts an affective needs center-based program. Other centers that host affective needs programs include 5 middle schools and 4 high schools. The DCSD website states, "Students served in affective needs center-based programs experience skill gaps that may be related to a variety of special education disability categories including, but not limited to, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Serious Emotional Disability or Other Health Impairment.”
The program at Legacy Point is called Voyager, named to compliment the LPE mascot, the Explorers. Voyager is in its 9th year of operation and has its own cluster of classrooms to allow for sensory accommodations and emotional regulation. Beth Waufle, previous teacher for Voyager, shared some fun things that students have been involved in through the years. They hatched chickens with the 4H club, helped train a dog of an LPE family to be a reading service dog, took field trips to Boondocks to connect with the Sagewood program, and had Home Depot volunteers come out to make projects with them.
Voyager students attend general education with their peers according to their individual needs and progress. They also have the opportunity to be in a small group, often with one-on-one supervision and education. These amazing ladies shown here are essential to the Voyager program and serve the students there on a full-time basis. They give their time and patience each day to help students progress and succeed. They share here their feelings about the program and their chance to work with these special kids (in order pictured from left to right):
“So far in the Voyager Program, I have enjoyed teaching the students coping skills like deep breathing, visualization techniques, grounding exercises, and positive affirmations during our time in the morning when we all get together, and then seeing them actively use one of the strategies to help them throughout the day. It is also empowering to me to see how many strengths our students have and how they use them to help their peers in class. I have also enjoyed working with the incredible teachers in our program and the flexibility we all have to help our students. Our team is amazing and I am personally so grateful for each and everyone of them and how they give their heart to each student,” shared Katherine Walter, LPE’s social worker.
An educational assistant (EA), Becky Hanlin, shared this: “I absolutely love the ladies I work with — we have an amazing team! This job is both challenging and rewarding at the same time —there have been some really tough days, but so many great days. I love working with the kids and I hope that we’re making a positive impact in their lives. I care deeply about all of them and I just want to see them succeed and excel in everything they do."
Amber Brown, current Voyager teacher, said, “This is a position of constant reflection and change, which means every day is different. I love how the team, the children, and I all learn together, whether it is about each other and our zones of regulation, something new within ourselves we never knew, or what coping skills we used for the day to help us maintain the green zone of regulation. If it was not constantly changing just like life, how would we ever grow ourselves; and for that I am truly grateful.”
Traci Bertram, also an EA, said, “I have had the wonderful experience of being part of the Voyager Program for 9 years! I love what I do. It is so rewarding to see students learning in an environment that is right for them. I could not do my job without the wonderful EAs, teachers, and staff that I have been able to rub shoulders with and learn so much from.”
Jennifer Heckmaster, EA, said, “I had the privilege to join the Voyager team just a few weeks ago and have been so impressed and inspired by the incredible staff. Their dedication to ensuring the success of each student is evident, and the care and compassion they provide each day is extraordinary. I am so excited to be a part of this amazing program!”
This team works to help every student do their very best. Their love for each other and their students is evident! We are grateful for their commitment to support this program. We are happy to highlight them and thank them as everyday heroes!