California Educator

January / February 2017

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TEACHING LIFE SKILLS Theresa Bradley and Crystal Standley Twin Rivers United Educators S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N T E A C H E R S Foothill Ranch Middle School " Innovation only survives when people believe in their own ideas." — Innovation expert Debra Kaye "Let's knock three times," Theresa Bradley tells students. They count "1, 2, 3" on the classroom door. "Let's stand back so we don't get hit by the door when it opens," sug- gests Bradley, and they back away. The door swings open without hitting anyone, which is a good thing because students carry trays laden with soup and bread, delivering them to hungry staff at Foothill Ranch Middle in Sacramento. The students in grades 5-8 have mod- erate to severe disabilities. They deliver homemade soup, bread and inspiration every week. It's fun, and it's also a great learning experience. For example, if a meal costs $6, and a teacher hands them a $10 bill, they count on their fingers to determine how much change to give back. They learn to recognize numbers on classroom doors. They practice smiling, shaking hands and saying "thank you" to customers. The classroom of Bradley and co-teacher Crystal Standley was previ- ously used by a home economics class. With a stove, fridge and washer/dryer, it's ideal for students with special needs to learn about daily living. Bradley and Standley, who teamed up to teach four years ago, take stu- dents on community walking trips and public buses so they can learn how to get around on their own. The student recycling program raised more than $700 last year. There's also the Coffee and More business, where students prepare and sell hot beverages and bagels in the morning. "Our students are learning to work as a team here," says Standley. " They learn cooking skills, money skills and customer service skills. Any of these students could easily work at McDon- ald's or Taco Bell. They are only in middle school, but most of them are employable when they leave us." Clockwise from top: Victor Salcedo and Yorday Leon Gunn deliver bread to Lisa Gant, with help from Theresa Bradley; Alondra Lopez with Crystal Standley; Bradley and Standley. "They are only in middle school, but most of them are employable when they leave us." 30

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