LANCASTER — Lancaster Faculty District’s Promise Academy has an uncommon mascot for a college within the desert — a penguin.
The mascot — a drawing of a black and white Adélie penguin — has a crimson coronary heart on his chest. He’s standing on a small blue ice floe. Adélie penguins depend on ice floes for his or her survival.
College students on the Promise Academy depend on the employees to assist them be taught and transition to the following stage of their training. The varsity serves roughly 20 particular training college students in preschool by eighth grade who’re thought of extreme in addition to medically fragile.
“All of our college students have an in depth checklist of well being points,” Principal Amy Westlake stated.
Many of the college students perform at three to 6 months of age. Most are nonverbal. The District moved this system from its former dwelling on the growing older Linde Verde Middle to its new dwelling, at 1331 East Ave. J-8, close to Lincoln Elementary Faculty, in January 2021.
Every classroom has a instructor, a licensed vocational nurse and one or two paraprofessionals.
“Our college students all have well being plans,” Westlake stated. “Something can occur the place they may have a seizure and medicines should be administered.
It was one of many college’s paraprofessionals who got here up with the penguin mascot. The varsity’s motto is “Our College students Develop and Thrive.”
“Penguins symbolize goals, adaptability, closeness and household,” Westlake stated, “They’re a fowl that has tailored to fly by the water as an alternative on the sky. That’s sort of like our college students; they may not be capable to do what a typical scholar can do, however they adapt.”
Westlake pointed to the crimson coronary heart on the penguin’s chest.
“All the things we do is from the guts,” she stated.
Westlake took a tour of the varsity with Antelope Valley Union Excessive Faculty District Board President Donita Winn, a longtime volunteer for the District.
Second-grader James Berry has some motor limitations.
Assistant know-how specialist Tyler Heckathorn and speech pathologist Nelida Johnson labored with James in instructor Valerie Riley’s classroom utilizing completely different boards to assist him talk. The GoTalk board has 9 squares with a unique image in every sq.. One other clear plastic board had slides with two squares depicting completely different hand indicators that he may level to.
James, who has world delays, makes use of the boards to speak with the classroom employees. He additionally had a big machine with a inexperienced smiling face and a crimson frowning face on the desk in entrance of him to point sure or no to a query.
“He’s bettering in his attain and extension,” Heckathorn stated.
Johnson retrieved a pink bubble gun that shot bubbles into the world in entrance of James’ desk, eliciting a smile from the teenager.
“He’s giving it every thing proper now,” Westlake stated.
In instructor Cynthia Jones’ classroom, eighth-grader Jaden Smith labored together with his LVN Christiaan Tillman. Different college students labored from dwelling.
“We all the time begin off with music,” Jones stated.
Jaden began as a preschooler on the previous Linde Verde Middle. He had a tambourine and a maraca on his desk for the musical begin.
“His objective is to have the ability to maintain on to issues, so I attempt to incorporate targets in all of the issues that we do,” Jones defined.
Jaden sat in a custom-fitted Rifton chair, which is a particular chair that the District bought to help the scholars orthopedically.
“All music blended in to assist with the educational,” Westlake stated.
In instructor Maria Castellanos’ classroom, college students labored on adaptive bodily training in accordance with their capacity.
Westlake identified one scholar who couldn’t stroll when she got here to the varsity two years in the past. She walks now. The classroom had a gate to forestall the teenager from strolling away from the classroom.
“She’s throughout,” Westlake stated. “She’s going to able to go to a complete campus subsequent yr. We’re very comfortable about that; that’s a hit. We would like youngsters as typically as doable to be within the normal training with their friends.”
The mobility room an overhead tract system can help college students who’re studying the way to stroll.
“This enables us to take off a few of their weight with the slings,” bodily therapist Liticia Fernandez stated. “A few of the ones that aren’t strolling can get down on the mats and work on crawling and standing and developing and round.”
The monitoring system is new. Additionally they have one within the college’s restroom to help with among the older college students.
Fernandez and occupational therapist Ren Landicho put a harness on Jaden and helped him stroll alongside the observe towards the open door and again.
Fernandez, Landicho and Tillman cheered Jaden on as he walked alongside the observe.
“We all the time use two employees members regardless of the scale (of the coed),” Westlake stated. “I’m so glad we have been in a position to get this.”