Embracing students "of all backgrounds and abilities" is the core of AMSA's mission. It also goes to the heart of the Special Education Department, whose dedicated staff live that mission every day.
"Every student who attends AMSA is entitled to the education this school has to offer," says Lynn Jarvis, AMSA's new Special Education Director. "As a public school, we welcome all students, including those with different learning styles. The Special Education Team here at AMSA is committed to making sure that all students receive equal access to a high-quality education."
AMSA offers a full inclusion model, meaning Special Education teachers, paraprofessionals, and other specialists work with many of their students in the general education classrooms. This allows them to build on each student's strengths and break down barriers to content as its being taught.
"We provide a service, not a place. We go where we're needed," says Bryan Wong, Special Education Teacher.
The team emphasizes that the general education teachers are the content experts and that they support, reinforce, and re-teach the skills needed to access the content being taught.
Besides Ms. Jarvis, the 13-person staff this year added two new paraprofessionals to ensure that students continue to receive personalized support.
"We spend a significant amount of time on deeply understanding the needs of each student we assist, so that we can provide them with customized, individualized tools and strategies to learn the content," says Laura Moy, Inclusion Specialist.
The Special Education team aims to build strong relationships with families, sometimes lasting years, which benefit their students' progress immensely.
"It's truly a community," says Mr. Wong.
One that continually works together to achieve another part of AMSA's mission: empowering students to succeed.