Friday, December 30, 2011

A look back at the fall semester

I'm feeling a little ambitious tonight (and my child and husband are both asleep!) so I'm going to try and post a couple of photos from the fall semester.
This fall semester was fast and furious. All but one of my students will age out this coming May, so it's been a rush to make sure everyone is ready, set, prepared for life post-program. They could not have made me more proud this semester.

 Students and teachers worked to get the interior of our facility in order, working on various types of home living skills lessons such as framing art work.

Fire tore apart a small community outside of our city limits. Students and staff purchased a variety of useful items for the victims of the fires and delivered them to the command center.
 One of the top priorities in our program is to have every students employed, whether it be VAC or CBVI employment. The first step in the process is to develop a resume.

Students took some of their scheduled leisure time to prune weeds from the flowerbed areas outside of our facility. Home living skills encompass both the interior and also the exterior of the home.

 Since we are in a new facility and not on a school campus in our district, the Marble Falls Fire Department came to our facility to teach students about the various fire hazards that can be found in a home, demonstration on the use of a kitchen fire extinguisher and assisted in developing an escape route/evacuation plan for our site.

 Every year since the program began (2009) the Transition Training Program at MFISD has been hosting our districts LIFE middle and high school classrooms for an afternoon of food and fun. It is a great way for students to interact and to work together as a team with other students with disabilities whom they do not see on a regular basis.

 We are very fortunate to have a great relationship with several other 18+ programs in our area. One of the highlights in our monthly schedule is having an outing with the other groups. We rotate on picking outings, which often include bowling, visiting a local farm, shopping, eating lunch in the community and having cook outs at our facilities. It's a great way for students to interact with other students their own age and for teachers to collaborate on new ideas in a relaxed setting.

I'm quite proud of our students this year. We hosted 16 people at our new site for a holiday meal. Students baked a ham, cooked all the sides and even baked a few desserts...all within a discussed and set time frame. Time management is something we strive to work on within the facility, but also on the job site. It has clearly been successful and I'm extremely proud of each student for their contribution and diligence.

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18+ Programs....uniquely their own

One oF the things I find so unique about 18+ programs is the individuality of each districts program. Unlike K-12 LIFE classrooms, we have the flexibility to create our own curriculum and parameters for the program. I've had the pleasure of visiting many other 18+ programs in my area of central Texas and it's neat to see what others are doing and what can be implemented within my own program.
The hardest part is finding fun and useful ways to tie their IEP goals with the daily living and lifelong learning goals, without repeating the same tasks over and over. Thank goodness for Pinterest! If you aren't a member, I highly recommend it. I'm so eager to get back and try out some new ways to create our own green cleaning supplies and so much more.
For students who are economically disadvantaged, we are always looking for ways to teach them thriftiness and by creating DIY projects, I think it will give the students a sense of accomplishment while saving a few bucks!

Check out this awesome blog: http://www.320sycamoreblog.com/ for tons of great ideas!!



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This has been such a busy year and my poor blog has been neglected. But one of my 2012 resolutions is to keep it up-to-date and fresh! Happy holidays.


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Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's about that time!

Welcome back to another great school year at the new MFISD Transition Training Facility. This year is going to be a great one because we have awesome students, a supportive community and old familiar faces of whom are eager to educate and inspire.

Please be sure to mark your calendar for our open house on Friday, August 26 at 10 a.m. here at our new facility. There will be some formal dedications and intros at the beginning, but visitors will have ample opportunity to explore our new area, visit with the students and even snack on some homemade items, straight from the oven to the table.

I'm so excited to be welcoming back four students to enjoy their last year in the program and welcoming one new student coming to us from the high school. There are so many great benefits to having your student in this program and I encourage anyone who has a student with special needs to contact the MFISD Special Services office to arrange a meeting and interview.

Thank you to everyone who has worked hard to make this dream a reality.

Go Mustangs!!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Update on the facility

Good afternoon all,

I wanted to give a brief  update on our facility. We are nearing the end of the construction process. I have been told by my Special Services Director, Dr. Susan Maughan, that an open house has been planned for the facility on Friday, August 26th. I would like to encourage and invite all of our friends and family out to see this awesome building.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need directions!
jvirdell@mfisd.txed.net

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Look at the progress!!

 The kitchen and dining areas
The entry and living area, looking into the classroom

Some amazing progress has been made since school let out almost one month ago. Our new facility "the house" is almost complete. There are only a few things left to do and then I will be marking our territory with lots of boxes brought over from the old facility. Speaking for the students and myself...woohoo!!!!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Special Moment

Today was an extremely special day for one special young woman in our program. Ana and I have been working together for the past four months on completing all of her requirements for graduation. Our principal, Mr. Penrod and special services director, Dr. Maughan, organized this intimate and very personal graduation for her and we could not have been more excited to share in the moment.

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We even had a cake! :)

Congratulations Ana!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Fun at Llano


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Students and staff enjoyed a morning at Llano ISD Transition Program for an end-of-year celebration and informal open house at their new facilities. We had a great time playing a variety of games and eating student-prepared hamburgers from the grill.


Thank you, Llano for your wonderful hospitality!!

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cleaning up the mess....the beautiful little mess


Update alert: We now have beautiful smooth walls, beautiful molding and even a beautiful bat inside our new residence. The bat has to leave, but the rest is permanent and we are all so excited to see it taking shape!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Peer-to-peer lessons are the best!

Food Expirations


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One of the most beneficial things about all L.I.F.E. programs at MFISD is the ability for students who have an understanding of something to help teach their peers. John needed some help with deciphering if a perishable food is still good or bad. Brittney asked to show him and I was happy to oblige her request.
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Strawberry Patch

 Rosie and Brittney showing off their bright, pretty smiles
Funny faces
 Picking Fun
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The countdown has begun!

The count down is officially in full swing. There are now 25 school days left and we are all so excited about this small revelation. So excited it now has a special place on our crazy-busy schedule board. Can you tell we are a little bit excited?!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lesson-in-action: Checking an account balance

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Today I had some extra time set aside to work with one of my students on contacting the bank to check her balance. The internet is an awesome tool and internet banking...equally awesome. But for anyone who has trouble remembering log in names and passwords, it can be frustrating. So we just started with the basics, like picking up the phone and contacting customer service, and for now it works perfectly.
Belinda did exceptionally well with this task. I had to cut the video for privacy reasons, but she did give them the entire account number by herself and answered two personal information questions in order to prove she's the account holder. I couldn't have been more proud of her success with this task.

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Update on the house




The new training house is coming along very well. We now have walls and it's looking fantastic! All of the students and staff went up to tour the site and observe the progress being made. The last photo is the view out the back of our facility. Isn't it georgeous!? We all feel so forunate to be getting such a wonderful facility to teach and learn!
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Samuel

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Samuel is graduating!!

One of my dear, sweet students is flying the coop this spring. Samuel came to us in September and stayed just long enough to leave footprints on our heart. Most of his family hails from another country, so this is our public plea...in true Samuel fashion...to get them to travel here for his big day and celebration.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stang Special Olympic Round-Up

Rosie gives Brittney a congratulatory hug after winning her 2nd gold medal
 Brittney on the podium after winning the 2nd gold
 Belinda completing the 100 yard dash
 Rosie, Belinda and John stop to pose
 Mrs. Virdell and Trisha Clifton (from our Special Services office) posing
The MFISD Tent

Wow, what an amazing day we had on Friday! This was the first ever local track meet held in Marble Falls and we all had a blast!!
A HUGE thank you to the following sponsors who opened their door and wallet to us and donated for this event:

J & J Construction- Juan and Jesse Rodriguez
Ace Hardware- Jeff Ford
H.E.B- David Crail



We appreciate you and all other sponsors too!

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Brag on Belinda Day

Sometimes my students give me one of the greatest gifts a teacher can get...effort. Today is officially Brag on Belinda Day. I'm hoping every student will give me the chance to have a "Brag-on" them day, but one student inparticular has earned her day and so...here's Belinda.


 What teacher doesn't love when a student says, "Can I help?" and that's just what Belinda did today. When she and I went to check on the progress of the house, she grabbed a broom and said, "I'll sweep."
Last week Belinda started her new job at Brother's Bakery. Not only have I heard compliments from the owner and her co-workers, but also from bakery patrons. She's not my daughter, but I definitely felt the "Mother's Pride" today when she waited on myself, Mrs. Hearne and classmate, Rosie, at lunch. And who doesn't love a cup of soup with a side of cheery smile!

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Business-minded students

I have some seriously awesome students. Have I said that lately, because I really should say it everyday. Last week at our garage sale, one of my students, Belinda, came to school with a baggie full of homemade string bracelets. She had decided to set up shop and sale her bracelets to the shoppers coming to the sale. She made $3!
This morning when I walked into the classroom Belinda had brought at least 30 colors of string with her and convinced Rosie and Brittney to get in on her new business and start producing. They jumped in and didn't look back.
 Belinda even got Mrs. Barker in on the fun!
 Samuel reviewing the business plan
Showing off my bracelet!

How awesome is it that I have such brilliant students to utilize every opportunity to make a couple dollars. I'm so proud of them for something different all of the time, so today I wanted to share this exciting entrepreneurial project a few have taken on. Good job!


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