Education column: Special ed students provide community service

By Penny Bailey: Education columnist

OK, so I am telling on myself … when James Baxley invited me to his class to see the terrific things they are doing in his special education class, I was not sure what to expect.

I was certain the students were going to be great and the teachers super, but I was not sure about me.

But, as soon as I entered his classroom of smiles I knew I was among friends.

I met the nicest students, and wonderful, understanding and patient teachers.

It was Friday, the day students do their part in keeping our community clean. It is a day they all seem to look forward to as it is a little different than their normal school schedule.

You see, they start their day by collecting recyclable materials from Clovis High School, Marshall, Freshman Campus, Barry, Cameo, Highland, James Bickley, Sandia, Taco Box, Furr’s, and Leal’s, and IRC at Central Office

As we set out on our adventure of emptying recycle bins, I was equally proud of the other students who not only contributed to the recycling program, but were polite and held doors open for us.

I watched in amazement as these students with disabilities worked to maneuver wagons through doorways and sorted through the various types of recycling materials.

One of the assistants, Alice Chavez, explained this is physical and occupational therapy for the students, and they were practicing their listening skills, too, as the teachers directed them to the various recycle bins. Baxley also explained that skills they are developing could help some of them get a job in the future.

This is not the first year these exceptional students supported their school and community. Last year they recycled more than 74,000 pounds of material, and raised more than $400. This money was used to purchase additional equipment and materials for their classroom.

What a great experience I had as I watched our students and teachers energetically provide an outstanding service to our community. These dedicated teachers use this opportunity to teach our kids in a unique way while improving their physical abilities, and improving their life skills as they worked together for the good of us all.

I could not have been more proud.

Penny Bailey is a communication specialist for Clovis Municipal Schools. She can be contacted by penny.bailey@clovis-schools.org