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April 2014

16

Oconomowoc students benefit more from inclusive class

"This is an incredible collaboration," said Mary Linsmeier director, Cassie Maduscha. "Our staff learns from the Oconomowoc school district staff and they learn from us. Every child benefits a lot from this experience."

Maduscha is referring to the inclusive classroom at the Linsmeier site on West Wisconsin Avenue in Oconomowoc. Oconomowoc Area School District (OASD) early childhood special education teacher, Molly Raduka, is there four mornings each week to work with pre-school district students who have been identified as needing additional help with emotional, cognitive or physical challenges. She is supported by an OASD para-professional and Linsmeier staff who work seamlessly with the students; it's difficult to tell which students are those who need special help and those who do not. They are all part of one classroom.

Raduka noted that in the past, early childhood students were in a separate classroom that did not include regular education students. "The children didn't have a chance to interact with other children. Now, they can learn from each other; teachers and students are so accepting."

She added that the special education students, who range in age from 3 to 5, are more willing to try new things in this inclusive environment when they see other children making the effort . "It doesn't matter what skills they have; they all do the best that they can."

Director of Student Service and Special Education, Lisa Dawes, wrote, "(The District is) very excited to have an integrated early childhood setting at a community daycare. The peer models have been instrumental in helping student development and enriching the instructional experience overall."

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