Learning for the Rest of His Life at Wayfinder’s Special Education School

“School today?” 13-year-old Jordan hopefully asked his mother, Jerilynn, every summer day. Jordan was very eager to start eighth grade in Wayfinder’s Special Education School. He loves everything about the school—riding the bus, his
teachers, arts and crafts—and especially learning.

Staff at our Special Education School were happy to welcome back Jordan and all their students in fall 2023. The school enrolls children ages 5 to 22 who have profound special needs.

Principal Nancy Berger describes Jordan as a happy, laughing boy with a beautiful smile. Jordan has autism spectrum disorder and an intellectual disability. He can say a limited number of words, and with Wayfinder’s support, he is improving his ability to communicate every year.

However, Jordan was not so happy when he went to his prior school. “In some situations when I left him at school, he would cry.” Jerilynn recalls. “He didn’t like school.” Jerilynn was aware of the fine reputation of Wayfinder’s school and hoped Jordan would be able to enroll.

In 2020, her wish came true! But the pandemic forced education online. Wayfinder school staff sent Jordan an iPad for virtual learning and dropped off his educational packets every week. “They showed me they had a plan for him,” says Jerilynn. “Jordan looked forward to going online every day. Wayfinder’s school made it very interesting. He was engaged, and that engaged me. The school made me a partner, like I was a teacher, too, which I liked a lot.” The school resumed in-person instruction in fall 2021.

According to Principal Nancy Berger, Jordan takes pride in doing well in his academics. Ulas, Jordan’s teacher, says “Jordan does addition and subtraction and some multiplication. He is completing some math computations in his head! He is learning reading, comprehension and writing.” Jordan likes to pull up maps on an iPad. “He seems to know the maps and track the routes to his home,” Ulas says.

Jerilynn believes Jordan is doing so well because the teachers at Wayfinder’s Special Education School took the time to learn his preferences and strengths.

At Jordan’s prior school, Jerilynn says, “I used to dread meetings about Jordan’s Individualized Education Program.” An IEP is a document that details the services, instruction and goals for a child who receives special education. Jerilynn felt disconnected from that school’s staff and didn’t feel included in the IEP process.

But at Wayfinder’s Special Education School, “IEP meetings are calm and organized,” Jerilynn says. “They ask me what I think his goals should be. That’s important to me. Everyone in the IEP meeting says positive things about Jordan, like ‘He’s a joy to work with.’”

In addition to progress in learning, Jerilynn notices the school’s other impacts on her son. Jordan talks more and lets her know his preferences. “He is more observant of my facial expressions and reactions,” she says. “He notices now if I’m happy or not happy. He tries new things.”

Jerilynn is delighted to see Jordan’s growth. “I want him to be able to use what he’s learning now for the rest
of his life,” she says. “I want him to have life skills, like doing his laundry and picking up after himself. I want him to be somewhat independent. He will probably need help in life, but I want him to have skills.”

With Jordan’s eagerness to learn and individualized instruction at our Special Education School, Jordan is making great progress toward independence.

September 26, 2023