Supporting Students with Special Needs and Their Teachers
The Exceptional Children Division welcomes other donations as well, said Mary Todd Allen, the Chief Program Officer for the division.
In particular, she said, “We are now in search of Plexiglas desk dividers to use with our students who cannot wear masks but require 1:1 instruction.”
Anyone who would like to support the EC Division with a donation can call the EC office at 336-727-2083.
OCTOBER 14, 2020 – When someone in the Exceptional Children’s Division asked local printers for help, her especially sweet request brought especially fast responses.
Jody Shaw, the owner of Sir Speedy printing company, believes in supporting the school system and other organizations in the community.
So, when she received an email from Jenny Gray – a member of the Autism Team in the school system’s Exceptional Children’s Division – asking whether Sir Speedy would be willing to print and donate informational booklets for students returning to school, Shaw would definitely have said, “yes.”
“We quietly like to support a lot of different things,” Shaw said. “I am happy to help out the community any way I can.”
Especially during this time, she said, it’s important for everyone to pull together.
With the demands of work, though, Shaw might not have responded to an ordinary request instantly. In this case, though, she made a point to reply right away.
“It was all in the way she asked,” Shaw said. “It was a very sweet ask. ‘I thought, ‘Isn’t that nice? I would be happy to.’”
When Mark Goslen, the president of Goslen Printing, also received the email, he, too, got back right away because he was impressed by the way Gray framed the request.
“She was very humble and professional,” Goslen said.
“To me, this is a no-brainer. Community is very important to us. We are all about participating and giving back to the community.”
So, after sending out an email on a Sunday, Gray had two printing companies committed to providing booklets as the business week began.
“These two companies reached out Monday morning,” Gray said.
Earlier this month, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education passed a phased re-opening plan that will gradually have students make the transition from remote learning to a blend of in-person and remote classes.
The booklets, which will be sent to the homes of students in the EC (Exceptional Children) program, are designed to provide students will information they need to know when they are back in school.
“For some of our students with special needs,” Gray said, “it will be a difficult transition.”
Understanding such things as their teachers will be wearing masks “to keep their germs to themselves” will help them make that transition, Gray said. “They will have a better understanding.”
They will also be invited to do such things as put masks on their stuffed animals at home to help them get comfortable with it all.
The information in the booklets will also be posted on the Autism Canvas page.
On Tuesday Oct. 13, Gray picked up the booklets produced by Goslen Printing and delivered them to the EC Preschool program so they could be distributed to EC preschool classrooms.
Other organizations are also making donations to support the EC Division of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
“Community businesses, civic organizations and individuals have offered resources to help us get our students back in school safely,” said Mary Todd Allen, the Chief Program Officer for the division.
“We are blessed to live in such a community where even before we ask, people call to see what they can do.”
One contribution came from Solutions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that works to help people with disabilities live independently and to become integrated into the wider community.
Working through Aretha Jones-Moultrie, who works for the Exceptional Children's Division in Support & Secondary Transition, Solutions for Independence donated WiFi hotspots and iPads.
Solutions for Independence – once known as The Adaptables – used Cares Act money to donate provide 110 hot spots & five iPads to be used at the discretion of the EC Division to best address the needs of those with special needs/disabilities.
“That really helped us,” Jones-Moultrie said.
The hotspots are being used not only by students but also by speech/language pathologists and other staff members who have had difficulty with connectivity while they are out in the community working with students.
Hospital/Homebound staff members working with students at such locations as Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services have also used the hotspots.
“We have sites all through the district,” Jones-Moultrie said. “We need to be able to have access to the Internet.”
Another contribution came from a group that sews masks – the Salem Glen Mask Makers.
Working out of the Special Service Center, Betsy Howerton is an itinerant Speech/Language Pathologist serving homes and child-care centers in the Clemmons/Lewisville/Southern Winston-Salem area.
“There is a group of sewers in the Salem Glen community that have been making masks since the COVID shutdowns,” Howerton said. “I received a donation of 35 masks yesterday, one for each staff member at the Special Services Center.”
“I know our entire staff will be so grateful for this donation and I am proud to live in a community that has such a giving heart. They have supplied many masks to schools in the Clemmons and Welcome/Arcadia areas and we were the most recent to benefit from their giving heart.”
Elizabeth O’Meara, who taught AG (Academically Gifted) fourth-graders at Sherwood Forest Elementary before she retired, is one of the members of Salem Glen Mask Makers who helped organize this and other donations.
“Our organization – the Salem Glen Mask Makers – is a group of 17 sewing volunteers, sixteen of whom live here in Salem Glen, including a senior at West Forsyth High School – Elizabeth Patton – who has learned to sew during her months at home, and one volunteer who lives in Winston-Salem,” O’Meara said.
“Our initial goal back in early April was to sew washable, reusable face masks for our neighborhood. We used a pattern and recommended fabrics that Wake Forest Baptist had suggested, and we requested a minimum donation from our neighbors for those masks.”
“The money raised was then used to purchase batik and quilters’ cotton and sewing notions from Sewingly Yours, a locally-owned shop in Lewisville which gave us a discount. This was a win-win arrangement. The masks we were now able to sew were donated to essential workers in Clemmons.”
“For several months, they included local grocery store staffs and the staffs of the Clemmons Fire Department, small and large businesses in Clemmons, church staffs, daycare and child care organizations, the staffs of all the Forsyth County public schools in Clemmons and weekly donations to the staff and clients of the Clemmons Food Pantry and other local non-profits.”
“By the middle of the summer, with Clemmons donations taken care of, we branched out to other nearby Forsyth County schools and schools in north Davidson County, the Forsyth County Preschool Exceptional Children’s Center, HOOPS4L.Y.F.E., the Hispanic League’s Middle School Achievers’ Program, the Hispanic League’s two Read and Feed sites, and The Twenty, which serves clients and public health department staff at Covid-19 drive-through testing sites in the eastern section of Winston-Salem.”
“Looking at this list and knowing that, during these six months, we also continued to sew masks for our neighbors, who generously supported this effort, it seems like an overwhelming job, and yet just like a long hike, we simply put one foot in front of the other and kept our eyes on the goal: to offer well-made washable face masks to those who serve the public, those who need, and our neighbors, their families and friends.”
“The spring and summer were a time when many items for our health and safety were in short supply. Masks were and are an essential item for all people and all of us knew how to sew. So we put two and two together. This project has given many people a locally sewn and important face mask in a time of pandemic, and it has given all of us who sew a daily sense of purpose and a way to beat the isolation we all feel.”
“We are grateful to our generous neighbors who made six months of sewing possible. And now with face masks easily available and inexpensive and disposable face masks accessible, our job is winding down. Our sewing volunteers will pause and see what happens. We hope more of our face masks won’t be needed, but we will be ready to sew if they are!”
Since April 3, Salem Glen Mask Makers has donated 3,799 masks. The members of the group participating in the project include: