Dr. Kennedi Dixon, divisional special education director at District 200, says OPRF has a number of ways to include students of all abilities throughout their high school years. 

She said OPRF has four general categories for special education. “The special education department has various programs for learning development with a smaller student to teacher ratio. The social-emotional disabilities program is for students at all learning levels academically, but these students have some emotional issues that hinder them. We also have programming for students with more significant social-emotional disabilities, and TEAM/CITE is for our students with intellectual disabilities.”

The CITE (Community-Integrated Transition Education) program is offered to students with disabilities who have completed four to five years of a high school program and have not received a high school diploma. These students can continue at OPRF until the age of 22.  The TEAM (Transitional Education with Access to the Mainstream) program is designed to prepare students with mild, moderate, and severe intellectual disabilities, to live and work in their home communities.

At the freshman level, Dixon says all core classes are co-taught, with special education and general education teachers working together. “What’s unique about OPRF is that we have a lot of students with IEPs in different levels, honors and college prep. The students are not boxed into a one-size-fits-all program.”

This past summer, teachers took part in professional development programs on the blended classroom, and Dixon says there are different models teachers can use. “With parallel classes, the two teachers are working in sync. In another approach, one teacher leads some of the time while the other falls back, and they can reverse roles. For example, a teacher might teach one unit, and the other teacher will teach the next. A third approach is called station teaching. One teacher delivers instructions to the whole group, and then they break down to smaller groups with each teacher taking on some of the kids.”

OPRF works to keep co-teaching pairs together so that the two teachers in a classroom can build relationships, and Dixon says teachers have embraced the practice. “They welcome the opportunity to have another colleague to bounce ideas off of. Relationship building is a big part of making this work. One teacher is not an aide, and the kids are confident in going to either teacher.”

Dixon says that of OPRF’s roughly 3,400 students, there are 655 in special education, each with unique needs and that the district strives to make the school welcoming for everyone

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