Events, activities helped enrich summer special education

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Various activities to engage students with special needs in a Rome school district remote iLearning Summer School program were cited by the district.

An ice cream social drive-around event for iLearning summer school students was planned for today in the Bellamy Elementary School bus circle, with a rain date of Thursday from noon-2 p.m., according to a district announcement about the program.

The program included summer school teachers at the end of June volunteering to pack “iLearning boxes” full of supplies that students needed for their virtual classes, the district said.

Assistant Director of Supported Learning Cristin Checchia observed “we are grateful to community organizations including the Turning Stone for donating 100 decks of cards for our students to use in all kinds of learning activities, ranging from math, science, physical education, and therapies.”

In addition, a school bag pick-up event in July included items to make learning at home easier, the district noted.

It thanked the Compassion Coalition for donating supplies such as book bags, pencil cases, paper, and binders, plus the Home Depot for donating supplies to make a “seed kit” offering students opportunities for a range of activities across the curriculum.

About 70 students ranging from kindergarten to grade 12 took part in the program, according to the school district.

Among program activities, students made paper inchworms in Josette Canarelli’s virtual classroom, while In Vanessa Stevens’ class they made foil balls to throw into baskets. As part of theme-based summer school learning experiences, one class took a virtual tour through the Griffiss Sculpture Garden, led by teacher Paula Gilroy and occupational therapist Lisa Gilmore.

“Prior to the trip, students studied aspects of nature and sculpture and were encouraged to notice materials used for the sculptures and how the works of art were installed within the elements of nature. After the trip, students were assigned to create their own sculpture of a sea animal in nature using materials provided to them by the (school district) or other materials commonly found in their homes,” said Gilroy.

Other virtual trips by the class included hiking along the Mohawk River Nature Trail, visiting the new Hannaford’s grocery store, and a guided tour of the Fort Rickey Discovery Zoo.

Canarelli said “Cristin Checchia and Tom Larkin have done a tremendous job leading and supporting this group of teachers and therapists, many who’ve been teaching for a very long time, in tackling something new this summer....I feel very strongly that these (some of our neediest) students have really benefited from the program. They are receiving occupational therapy services, physical therapy services, physical education, counseling, and speech and language therapy,”

The iLearning Summer program is ending with a culminating project to be displayed at the school district office with the motto, “Learning Apart, Growing Together.”

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