In the picture is, Melissa Hensley (Principal, Central High School), Kayten Stroop (Current LIFE Program Teacher, CLM Coach in Training) Heather Miller (first teacher of LIFE program, Certified CLM Coach), Vicci Tucci (CLM Developer), Kristina Zaccaria (Certified CLM Coach, BCBA)
The CLM Award is presented in honor of the lifetime achievement of Vicci Tucci, the CLM developer. “The award recognizes CLMers,” said Cathy Scutta, Director of Global Implementations, “who seize opportunities to step into the “intersection” and illuminate the possibilities of how to innovate with CLM.”
The LIFE (Learning Independence for Everyday) program, which began in Shenandoah County in 2014-15, provides post-graduate, special education students from throughout Shenandoah County a place to transition to independence. LIFE focuses on the four specific Virginia Department of Education Special Education goals for transition to life after high school: developing independence for employment, independent living, post-secondary training, and self-determination.
Teacher Kayten Stroop, her instructional assistants, and job coach utilize the Competent Learner Model in the classroom and in the community as they help students prepare for independent living — for having “a life like yours.”
LIFE students learn various academic skills related to what they need to know as an independent adult including writing checks, addressing an envelope, and counting money. As well, they learn independent life skills such as washing clothes, preparing healthy meals, grocery shopping, and exercising. All of the LIFE students have vocational placements in the community to prepare them for independent employment. In addition, the students complete various community service projects such as ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, singing at local nursing homes, and cleaning local parks with the Public Works Department.
The Competent Learner Model is described as a “best practice” instructional model that has proven successful with students who have challenging behaviors or intellectual disabilities. Behavior analysis, Precision Teaching, and Direct instruction form the foundation of the Competent Learner Model. Students focus on improving their skills in behaviors that a person habitually uses: participating, problem solving, listening, talking, reading, writing, and observing. As their capability in these areas increases, students will become competent or capable learners.
The LIFE program was “Ms. Hensley’s vision,” said Heather Miller, who was the program’s first teacher. “And would not have happened without the support of the Shenandoah County School Board.” The LIFE program is housed in a renovated space at Central High School. SCPS’s Maintenance Department converted the girls’ locker room into an apartment that includes a kitchen, living room, and dining room area. There is also a space for instruction, an area for laundry, and a private bathroom and shower room. The exterior door leads into a small courtyard where students are responsible for light yard work. “The LIFE Program and the implementation of CLM would not be possible without the support of Instructional Assistants Cindy Ritter and Deb Truban, Job Coach Laura Maynard, Coach Kristina Zaccaria, Central High School Administration, Shenandoah County Public Schools, Cathy Scutta, and Vicci Tucci. ”The success of the LIFE Program is the result of the hard work put in by many dedicated people. It truly takes a village, and I am so honored to be a part of this village!” said Kayten Stroop.