September marks a period of new beginnings as summer comes to a close and another school year begins. This year, due to the unusual circumstances, many of the hallmarks of fall look very different. Instead of just pens and pencils, back to school supplies now include new apps and devices, as districts continue to adapt to online teaching. Parents are balancing their own remote working schedules as students either return to their classroom, learn from home, or a combination of the two. This exceptional scenario is presenting many new challenges to everyone involved – teachers, schools, parents, and students alike. As the media continues to cover the many complexities of the situation, one area is often overlooked – the unique needs of students with disabilities.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Triangle has stepped into the void to provide a variety of remote services to special education students in partnership with dozens of public, private, and specialty schools across Massachusetts.
Triangle’s Workforce Development program has received high marks from school district partners as they deliver pre-employment skill building to students over Zoom. Students are completing sessions that allow them to explore different careers through virtual job shadowing days and tours. They are honing their skills by participating in mock interviews on Zoom. Dress for success classes have been a hit as students have been learning about appropriate workplace attire and how to present themselves to prospective employers.
Our IMPACT and IMPACT:Ability programs continue to teach personal safety and abuse prevention programs to schools, including Boston Public Schools. These classes, which normally include hands-on learning through role play scenarios, were quickly adapted to both pre-recorded instruction videos and the use of Zoom. The programs have also added much needed elements of online safety that help students understand the potential dangers of internet-based scams and predatory behavior online.
Our EPIC program continues to support youth with disabilities in a variety of ways, including self-advocacy lessons for special education classrooms and youth support groups. The support groups are often youth-led, meaning that students have been selecting and leading sessions on subjects that are most important to them. Subjects have included the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights, self-care during the pandemic, and voting rights.
In a strange back-to-school season, the Triangle team has been proud to continue to adapt and offer support to students of all abilities. While classes may look a bit different this year, we are striving to ensure that every student has the tools they need to succeed in the current environment.