Teaching for all types of learners

Students learn at various levels and paces, and the competent learner model used by Shenandoah County Public Schools helps students who have difficulty in typical learning environments.

At a recent Shenandoah County School Board meeting, Gina Stetter, director of special education, presented information on the program and its plans for expansion.

“CLM is a research-based and validated instructional system that uses direct instruction and behavior analysis practices,” she told board members at the Nov. 12 meeting.

Teachers and paraprofessionals are supported by instructional coaches to teach the repertoires of reading, speaking, participating, problem solving, writing, listening and observing to meet the needs of students who don’t learn well in a traditional classroom setting.

“Students learn the repertoires and skills they need to be able to be competent, independent learners in both familiar and new environments,” she said.

These students can include those with autism and multiple disabilities, she said.

“It benefits students who have challenging behaviors across disability categories,” she added.

There are currently 10 classrooms throughout the county schools for CLM learning. One is in Sandy Hook Elementary, two in W.W. Robinson Elementary School, one in Peter Muhlenberg Middle School, four in Central High School, one in North Fork Middle School and one in Stonewall Jackson High School.

The program has two Board Certified Behavorial Analysts, who are also CLM coaches-in-training working for the Shenandoah County Public Schools.

Training is provided through a partnership with the Shenandoah Valley Regional Program and Commonwealth Autism. This partnership has been in place since 2010.

Stetter said she hopes the program will expand within the county to serve more students who could benefit from a more individualized instructional method.

Time, retention of staff and developing in-staff to become coaches are essential elements for expansion, she said.

“A realistic next step would be to expand the program into some preschool settings and into the elementary and middle school classrooms that serve our most challenging students.”

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com