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Local

D-427 board recognizes 3 students with disabilities

Special education teacher Rhonda Graves (left) stands with Life School students April McKay, 20, and Gehrig Frost, 20.
Special education teacher Rhonda Graves (left) stands with Life School students April McKay, 20, and Gehrig Frost, 20.

SYCAMORE – Rhonda Graves said she is lucky to be able to teach in such a giving community, especially one that has given three adults with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to intern in a competitive program.

School District 427 recognized three students Friday for their acceptance into an internship program at Kishwaukee hospital at a Tuesday night school board meeting in the Opportunity House, 357 N. California St. in Sycamore. All three students – Gehrig Frost, Anna Barresi and April McKay, all 20 – are adults from the district’s Life School.

Life School is a transition program for young adult students with intellectual disabilities. The internships will run through the school year and could set the students up with the skills necessary for future competitive employment, said Graves, a special education teacher for Life School.

“They are quiet, they’re shy and they’re so willing to try new things,” Graves said about the students selected for the program. “And they have become leaders within this group of our students with disabilities.”

Each student will participate in three separate internships overseen by a special education teacher. Jobs run the gamut from assisting in diagnostic imaging to pediatrics, according to the Project Search website.

DeKalb county has many opportunities for students from the Life Program to find work, but Lynn Reilley, director of student services for District 427, said not every county is as giving.

“Adults with disabilities want to contribute to society, and so this gives them that opportunity to contribute and to feel like there’s purpose and meaning for what they do outside of their disability,” Reilley said. “Finding adult services for our students when they turn 22 is a challenge in our state.”

Member leaves board

Austin Hofer resigned because of a change in his residency that wouldn’t allow for him to continue to serve on the board. He moved from one side of Sycamore to the other, effectively moving from township he represented, Hofer said at the Tuesday night meeting.

Hofer was elected to the board in April 2017 and represented the township of Cortland.

“I’m super disappointed about that, but just wanted to say thank you to all the teachers and administrators that opened up their classrooms to me, shared their programs with me and talked about what was going on, to all the students I got to meet, and what a privilege that really was.”

The board will have 45 days to fill the vacancy, and will look to fill it with someone from Cortland township, said District 427 Superintendent Kathy Countryman.

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