SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Delaware Elementary School is known as being a Special Education Hub in the center of a quiet, established neighborhood.
It serves the needs of both general education students who are learning amongst those with unique challenges.
The school was built in 1951.
“It’s not designed for the needs of today’s students, especially when we talk about being a Special Education Hub, it’s not really designed for students with you know, the students with those special needs,” said Principal Stephanie Young.
She says the staff and educators are extremely dedicated to their students, their education and wellness but, the building doesn’t have space or storage needed for the students of today. There are 170- general education students with 50 to 60 students in specialized programs. Even though the building is handicap accessible with plenty of ramps…it’s not enough, she says.
“It has some sharp turns, that with the larger equipment, the building being built at the time, it wasn’t necessarily designed for equipment trying to turn the halls. We have to be careful, a little more careful than with a building that was designed with that type of student in mind as well.”
She describes the auditorium, the gymnasium, and cafeteria combined in one as the “caf-a-gym-atorium.”
“We have a two-hour chunk in the middle of the day where the gym can’t be used for instruction because we have to convert it into our cafeteria.
Our PE teachers really believe in the concept of lifelong wellness and that is a very important and integral part of what we are trying to do for our gen-ed students and for our special needs students.”
She says the space is so limited they use a closet space, as a changing room for students and storage for teachers.
Jennifer givens have been teaching at the school four-years, she said there is something so wonderful about this school and how the staff and students work together.
“The empathy that I see our regular education students have for these students really kind of warms your heart to know that there is hope in the world that kids are going to turn out okay”
But, she adds, the building doesn’t accommodate their potential for improving scheduling, classroom integration, and comfort.
“We go to work hoping to have great work environments you go to work you go to work at your television station and hope you have a great work environment so how can we expect kids to learn if we don’t’ give them the great environment to work in.
If the bond issue passes, a new, larger building would be placed on the Delaware site, and with boundary adjustments, 100 Sunshine students would join the Delaware students. Young said there would also be better security in the school and a storm shelter for the community. She said integration would remain her priority so that special needs students can learn in the same classroom as their non -disabled peers.