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BEARS Embrace Community Based Education
Thursday, December 13, 2018
If you stop in to the Fort Edward High School cafeteria, you may have seen a friendly face stocking the breakfast bar. Or if you are an employee at the Washington Country Office Complex, you may come across some students from the BEARS program washing windows, cleaning the break room, or organizing the food pantry. These students are learning employment and community skills as part of the BEARS classroom that was added at the Fort Edward Union Free School District during the 2017-18 school year. An important part of the program is community based education, or CBE, to practice communication and social skills that students are working on.
Every Friday the class goes on CBE trips. At Market 32 students return bottles and cans; at Walmart they learn to shop; and at the Crandall Library they listen to a story and borrow books. The class has also visited the Hyde Museum for a tour and art project, learned how to bowl at Kingpin Alley, and they have made holiday cards for residents at the Fort Hudson Healthcare System.
BOCES BEARS Teacher Linda Robinson says, “my students are gaining skills such as checking a book out of the library and shopping for cooking activities. Being able to practice these skills in real-life settings is integral to the students' success. Additionally, my students have had the opportunity to give back to their community by collecting food for the local food pantry.”
Those are just a few of the things they have done this school year. Robinson says the students are all looking forward to more CBE trips in 2019.
Principal for Special Programs, Elizabeth McGraw has received positive feedback from staff at the Washington Country Office Complex, who enjoy seeing the students at work. The staff at the Fort Edward Union Free School District have also said the students are doing a great job keeping the cafeteria stocked and helping with recycling.
“From a community perspective, the program has been well received. We like to see that,” adds McGraw.
BEARS student stocking shelves.
BEARS student organizing breakfast cart.