Jordan Valley adds cafe and studio to teach students independent life skills


By Julie Slama | [email protected]

At Jordan Valley School, special education teacher Carolyn West wholeheartedly supports adding a café and studio to the school.

The transformed classrooms are designed to teach students and prepare them for the transition to employment and independent living.

“This year has been incredibly productive with what we’re able to do with Café JarVis (which shares the school’s mascot name) and the studio,” West said. “It made a huge difference.

Jordan Valley cares for students with severe multiple disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, seizure disorders, communication disorders, genetic disorders and syndromes, deafblindness, and college students. extremely fragile medically. The goal of Jordan Valley School is to improve the quality of life for students aged 5 to 22 and their families.

These transition rooms are an example of how educators hope to improve their quality of life, said director Stacey Nofsinger.

For example, West and teacher Zeke Alexander rotate three groups of six students in Grades 5 to 9 of their classes through the rooms three times a week so that they learn skills that will help them prepare for class. post-school life.

At Café JarVis, West will bring a group of students where they will first put on an apron, then learn to roll silverware in a napkin and finally, set the table.

In the studio, students can learn how to make a bed, put away their clothes, and even sit down to play a game with their peers.

“These are skills that they don’t necessarily have, so it’s a great opportunity,” West said. “We would like to see them in the long term live a situation of autonomy and this prepares them to work, to have social skills, to be able to take care of their clothes and their belongings.

About six high school classes use the room each day.

West said that “it takes a lot to develop skills, so we have a lot of reps.”

Previously, the school only had the professional lab, which is still available for classes. West said his class continues to use it periodically. There, students have a number of fine motor tasks, such as arranging silk flowers or sorting gift cards to put on hangers in stores. There is also a “grocery store,” where students choose an item such as brownies, Jell-O, instant mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese to cook during their family economy time.

The new cafe and studio was created over the summer by Nofsinger, his family, facility staff and others, who brought a bed, clothes rack, sofa, coffee table, dining table eating, games, television, menus, silverware, aprons and colored dishes and other items. To make the transition, Nofsinger said the school was able to use part of the $ 25,000 from Land Trust and Teacher Student Success Plan funds.

“They can pop popcorn, sit on a couch and watch a movie, play a game of checkers and learn the proper interactions, and then clean and vacuum,” she said. “In the café, they learn to set and clear tables and to do chores. This gives them the chance to acquire these skills to be able to make the transition to being able to take care of their living environment and to be able to obtain employment in the community or to be a home help.

To help make the cafe more inviting, a para-educator created picture menus that are on the walls and covered some of the brick walls in the classroom with butcher’s paper windows. A student’s mother also makes awnings to add to the room.

West said his students looked forward to the experiments.

“It just opens up a world of opportunities to learn skills and they love to hang out in the studio” and learn and sometimes even without realizing it, she said.

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