By Jennifer Brofer
When a 6th grade student with autism and low academic performance was referred to North Valley Military Institute several years ago, staff members with the Special Education Program worked closely with the student to turn their life around.
“[Her] mother requested that we give her daughter a chance. We did just that, and she is one of the hardest working students I have ever met!” said Karla Uribe, Director of Student Support Services, who has worked with NVMI for nine years.
NVMI’s Special Education (SPED) program provides special needs students with services such as “social emotional counseling, behavior intervention, behavior implementation (one to one), language and speech therapy, occupational therapy, adaptive physical education, specific academic instruction, group therapy and reading intervention,” said Uribe, who runs a team of about 45 SPED staff members.
Students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) are evaluated by a school psychologist to ensure they meet requirements for SPED services. Students with IEPs can have autism, intellectual disabilities, orthopedic impairments, brain injuries, vision impairments, deafness, speech or language impairments, or other disabilities that require specialized support in school. Currently, 22 percent of NVMI’s student population has an IEP, according to Uribe.
“NVMI has a truly remarkable program to serve students with learning differences (sometimes known as disabilities),” said Dr. Mark Ryan, Superintendent of NVMI. “In a time when many public charter schools actively discourage enrollment of students with disabilities, NVMI welcomes all students and strives to meet their needs in a robust program of services. Our caring and highly competent staff provide high quality academic instruction and intervention, mental health counseling and support, speech and language services, occupational therapy, and much more. I am extremely proud of the tremendous work we do to help students with learning differences. NVMI views these not as students with disabilities but as students who learn differently and who simply need a high quality team of educators and professionals to support their learning.”
It’s through the support of the SPED program that the aforementioned student with autism was not only able to graduate from NVMI last year with a 3.5 GPA, they were accepted into University of California, Santa Cruz.
“This program would not be viable without our dedicated staff,” said Uribe. “All our teachers and support staff are highly qualified, patient, hardworking and focused on our students’ success.”