SPED Class Aids Students in Africa


En-GadiThe students in Trinity’s SPED 330 class “Communication and Collaboration in Special Education: Strategies and Methods” are augmenting their classroom work with unique, international hands-on experience. They are creating Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for 10 disabled students, who happen to be half a world away in Africa, according to Prof. Christine Scholma, assistant professor of special education. Students have this opportunity thanks to connections between Trinity, Elim Christian Services International Outreach and the Alexander DeJong Center for Special Education.

“They aren’t just writing goals for practice,” said Scholma, who serves as co-director of the DeJong Center. “They are experiencing the process. As a teacher, I see so much benefit to this.”

The Trinity students are forging the international collaboration with En-Gedi Children’s Home in Kenya, a school for children with disabilities. Educating students with disabilities is counter cultural in Kenya, so resources are lacking at every level, according to Scholma. With regular updates and communications from the staff at En-Gedi, which has a partnership with Elim, Trinity students are designing modified plans with student-specific information, a modifications and accommodations page, and three educational goals for every student. For each of these goals, the students will be preparing activity kits, according to Scholma.

“There is no formal education for many children with disabilities in Kenya, and we want to support the efforts of this school,” said Scholma. “I really threw this out to my students, and they are putting it into practice.”

At the end of the semester, Scholma and her students will evaluate the success of the IEPs. It’s possible that subsequent SPED 330 classes will continue to follow the students at En-Gedi to update and rewrite the IEPs every year, Scholma said.