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Bishop Ireton High School has implemented two brand new special educations programs to its curriculum.

The Bishop Ireton Special Services Team: Top Row L-R: Elizabeth Subasavage, Anneliese Slaton, Molly McKone, Jason Smith. Bottom Row L-R: John Applewhite, Ben Gerke, Ian MacDougall, J-Lynn Van Pelt. (Photo courtesy of J-Lynn Van Pelt)

Alexandria, VA – Bishop Ireton High School has implemented two brand new special educations programs to its curriculum.

In addition to Bishop Ireton’s academic support curriculum, the teachers have worked together to create both The De Sales program for students with learning disabilities and The Options program for students with intellectual disabilities.

The De Sales program provides extra support, parent involvement, and teacher advocacy during classes for students with learning disabilities in areas such as, but not limited to, reading, math, and written expression.

The Options program provides a separate curriculum with small group inclusion classes integrated throughout a student’s day. It is explicitly modified according to the needs of each student in that program.

J-Lynn Van Pelt, the Director of Special Services for Bishop Ireton High School, says, “These programs are about making sure all students succeed and making sure we have a place for students to succeed in various ways. Whatever it is, whatever you need, we’ve taken a very student-centered approach.”

The teachers at Bishop Ireton championed these two programs. J-Lynn expresses her appreciation of the teachers who “made this happen” when she says, “This has been a part of the mission for a while, and then when COVID-19 hit, our leadership here continued to press forward and make it work. The teachers here have been so amazing, and they are why this has worked.”

The De Sales and Options programs were implemented at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Because of the layered levels of support and the intensive teacher cooperation and creativity, Bishop Ireton welcomed its students with intellectual disabilities back five days a week as soon as they were able.

“We had a vision, but there were so many unknowns at the beginning of the year,” continues J-Lynn. “But the team decided ‘We are full steam ahead.’ It’s been a lot of hard work, but it has also been somewhat miraculous.”

The effort of the teachers on all fronts of the programs has elicited praise from all of Bishop Ireton. J-Lynn also praises the Bishop Ireton students who are outside of the special education programs.

She explains, “My peer mentor students, who facilitate the inclusion of the special education programs, made a video a couple of weeks ago with our student news. They had me in tears talking about how surprised they were working with students with intellectual disabilities, how inspired they were by the partnerships they created, and how much they learned from each other.”

Students in the two programs have exclaimed how they have had an immediate impact on their school life. Thanks to the educators at Bishop Ireton, these The De Sales and Options programs made their debut this year. There is no doubt they will continue to grow right along with the students in them.

J-Lynn concludes, “While educators are human, they have certainly done superhuman things this year to serve the students.” These two new programs at Bishop Ireton are proof of that sentiment.

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