BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A local teacher is asking for some extra support Wednesday for her students with special needs.
23ABC News spoke to special education teacher Janette Lathon at Actis Jr High school about her behind the scenes work to help get students supplemental materials and why more teachers are turning to the community for help.
"We want to help our students as much as we can whether that's communication or you know functionally or socially." Lathon said.
The majorities of Lathon’s students range from 12 to 13 and are predominantly non-verbal.That's why Lathon and her team took it upon themselves to develop a grant to ensure students would still have access to the tools they need to grow their learning despite Kern County Superintendents of School’s (KCSOS) funding limitations when it concerns supplemental materials, in hopes of gaining support from the community, "So Nick Feliciano and I wrote a project for Donors Choose and Donors Choose is a great resource for teachers to request items that they are wanting in their classroom to kind of enhance the learning for students. What we are asking for this year is some new yoga balls, trampolines and a football game because we feel this will encourage them for peer interaction and socialization," Lathon said.
According to Lathon other teachers in Kern County told her about the Donor's Choice website,"Whenever we're in teachers meetings there's teachers that will kind of talk about some of the projects that they wrote so I try to do one every year so this is fifth one. So I just heard it from other teachers."
She said it has become very popular over the years among teachers in Kern County and it's a direct way to help students receive supplemental assistance,“So it's Donor's Choose and you describe your students and they provide certain websites that you can go to and find these items. They have Amazon, Dick Sporting Goods and you find those specific items and you also describe how it will help your students. Then once it's fully funded those items will be shipped out and my students we write thank you letters," Lathon said.
The total cost of the items Lathon is asking for her class amounts to $900 and they still need $600 more to fund the entire project. KCSOS communication officials said they allow teachers to use Donor’s Choice because it's a safe way to ensure funds go directly where they were intended to. Lathon said it also help complement her everyday classroom techniques, "My particular students love the trampoline and they love bouncing on the yoga balls they just love any kind of movement and physical education activity. So we are in here a couple of times a day again because they like to get out of their classroom, out of their desk and just again move around."
Lathon said tablets also help bridge the communication gap between staff and students with special needs, "The tablets are useful because some of our students are non-verbal and we can put on pictures that they can request so it's definitely for communication."
She just hopes to make it happen for her students again this year, "We are just really hoping that we can get some new items for them again, we love our kids and we love seeing them thrive."
If you would like to help support Lathon's special needs class this year you can visit the Donors Choose.