A Curriculum to Follow

“When I got here, I had absolutely no curriculum whatsoever to go by,” said Mr. David Yunker, a Severely Handicapped special education teacher who has been working at Oxnard High School for four years. “I had some guidelines, but no curriculum. There are teachers out there, [for example] math teachers, who get a math book and a curriculum to follow. All your other classes are like that, but we had nothing.”

“I didn’t even know that was a problem,” said junior Eli Cervantes, “There isn’t a whole lot of awareness, that’s the problem.”

The Oxnard Union High School District, in addressing the issue in a January 2016 meeting, proposed two curriculum for the special education.

Mr.Yunker presented Project Discovery, which targets student skills necessary for the real world work environment by using visuals, which, according to Mr. Yunker, will increase student success rates. “My students tend to not process auditory information very well, but they’re strong visual learners.”

Project Discovery will aid SPED — Special Ed — students to prepare for the real world by practicing and demonstrating independence. “We’re trying to help them be independent. Our best way to prepare them for life after high school is to give them functional skills,” said Mr. Yunker.

Emmaly Hamersmma, an OHS paraeducator, said, “The kids come in here and work on careers, so they learn how to do a job interview and how to do a resume.”

Project Discovery will open up the special needs students to the community by giving them the opportunity to earn jobs after graduating. “[Only] 35% of special needs kids get to work in their lifetime,” said Mr. Yunker “We want to change that and get it over 50%. I’d like to see it flop to 70%.”

The second curriculum proposed within the district uses a more conventional approach. Mr. Yunker described it as more ‘technical’ and emphasizes students working in the traditional manner, at their desks. Mr. Yunker stated that “it did have strong points.”

The contrast in the proposed curriculum caused excitement because it helped unify the Severely Handicapped programs within the district. “They’re talking about creating a blended curriculum,” said Mr. Yunker, “We can supplement some of the stuff that they have with the activities that Project Discovery provides.”

The blended curriculum will create opportunities for the students to become social. “They can be really shy,” said OHS paraeducator Emmaly Hamersmma, “They’re just like any other student; you just  have to make the first move.”