“The Apartment” Highlights Independent Living

The brand new model apartment within Walt Whitman High School will be used to teach life skills that are critical to our special education students’ success.
The brand new model apartment within Walt Whitman High School will be used to teach life skills that are critical to our special education students’ success.
Left to right:  Dr. Scott Muller, Assistant Principal; Mr. Daniel Lombardo, newly appointed Chairperson for Special Education Grades 9-12; Christine Shubert, Special Education Teacher; Ms. Laura Stolfi, Behavioral Specialist; Ms. Angela Cucciniello, Special Education Teacher; Ms. Kathleen Acker, Whitman Principal; Ms Jacqueline Harris, Deputy Superintendent; Ms. Lisa Kmiotek, Special Education Teacher; and Mr. Rob Callahan, Walt Whitman’s College/Career Coach.
Left to right: Dr. Scott Muller, Assistant Principal; Mr. Daniel Lombardo, newly appointed Chairperson for Special Education Grades 9-12; Christine Shubert, Special Education Teacher; Ms. Laura Stolfi, Behavioral Specialist; Ms. Angela Cucciniello, Special Education Teacher; Ms. Kathleen Acker, Whitman Principal; Ms Jacqueline Harris, Deputy Superintendent; Ms. Lisa Kmiotek, Special Education Teacher; and Mr. Rob Callahan, Walt Whitman’s College/Career Coach.
Mr. Daniel Lombardo, newly appointed Chairperson for Special Education Grades 9-12 talks with parents about the exciting new programs for their children.
Mr. Daniel Lombardo, newly appointed Chairperson for Special Education Grades 9-12 talks with parents about the exciting new programs for their children.
Anything you can do independently can be re-created in the apartment to help give special education students the skills they need to live their lives with as little assistance as possible.
Anything you can do independently can be re-created in the apartment to help give special education students the skills they need to live their lives with as little assistance as possible.

Students with disabilities in South Huntington have something most high school students hope to have some day: their own apartment.  Well, it’s not their own exactly, but what they do have is a brand new model apartment within the school that will be used to teach life skills that are critical to our students’ success.

The apartment, with its adjoining classroom, is the vocational component of the district’s Life Skills program and contains the latest in supportive technology to help teach our students with special needs skills that will enable them to lead fuller and more productive lives. There are approximately two-dozen students who will be able to take advantage of this new program. The goal is to make each student as independent as possible. Many students will be able to live in a supportive environment once they leave Whitman, and the goal is to help give them the skills to live their lives with as little assistance as possible.

At a recent open house, students and their parents were introduced to the apartment and received a hands-on demonstration from Walt Whitman’s Special Education Department. The purpose of the apartment is to teach students independent living skills that they are going to need in the future. Students will be able to practice cooking a meal, setting the table, and doing laundry. Pretty much anything you can do independently can be re-created in the apartment.

The apartment and adjoining classroom will enable students to earn their Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) commencement credential. According to the New York State Department of Special Education, this credential will recognize each individual student’s preparation and skills for post-school employment. In the past, many students graduated with an individualized education program (IEP) diploma, but this credential provides a more meaningful substitute for these students. For students with disabilities who are exiting with a regular high school diploma, it provides them with the additional opportunity to leave school with a credential that also recognizes their work readiness skills.

“South Huntington the kind of place that affords all students opportunities to grow,” said Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Harris. “I want to thank Superintendent Bennardo, Kevin Kennedy, and the Board of Education for their support. There really aren't many districts with this type of facility within their buildings. We are proud of this communities' commitment to excellence for each student; and excited about the unique learning opportunities being planned for the students in this very special program."

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