Teachers, paraprofessionals team up in creative way to help students with disabilities

Proud to be from Pittsburgh - Teachers, paraprofessionals team up in creative way to help students with disabilities

PITTSBURGH — While many schools are teaching students virtually, it can be challenging for those students with disabilities as they rely on the hands-on support. Two paraprofessionals and a teacher teamed up in a creative way to make sure are addressing students' needs.

From the post office to a flower shop to a cat grooming business, Park Elementary paraprofessionals Vicki Deutsch and Mary Jo Craycraft made videos to help their special education students learn online.

“It’s like a virtual field trip. When we first started talking about it, we were disappointed. All teachers want to be back in the classroom, and we were like, 'How are we going to have them learn on a computer?” said Lori Oleksak, Park Elementary special education teacher.

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In their off time, they use just an iPad and one of their daughters' editing help to create videos that show students what’s in their community.

Where in Steel Valley are Mrs. Craycraft and Mrs. Vicki? Having students engage with their community can be tough in...

Posted by Park Elementary School on Thursday, October 1, 2020

“We were just thinking, ‘Who was the original virtual teacher? Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street.’” Deutsch said. “So we were thinking, ‘What we could do on that level?’ Not only are we helping our kids, but we’re also bringing attention to other business in the community, and they’re getting more business hopefully too.”

And it’s not just the eight students in their class watching. The videos are being shared to the whole school and world on YouTube.

A parent of one of the students in the class, Autumn Wilson said: “They are doing our neighborhood instead of Mr. Rogers' neighborhood. It’s Steel Valley neighborhood, and I think it’s amazing they are doing this.”

Deutsch and Craycraft are making us Proud to be from Pittsburgh.

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