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Family with diverse needs finds broad range of support
Part five of a series focusing on how Cherry Creek Schools is meeting the needs of all children.

Jax YoderLike any parent, Kelly Yoder was a little nervous about her son’s transition from elementary to middle school. It can be tough for any child to adjust to a new school, new routine and new kids, not to mention the physical and social-emotional changes middle schoolers go through. Her son, Jackson, had to deal with all of that, plus the fact that he has cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus. As a result of those conditions, he uses a wheelchair, an indoor bicycle and a communication device. The equipment allows him to get to class and talk with teachers and peers – things most other students do with no trouble at all.

299 Jax getting on bus 2.jpg“He’s dependent on a lot of equipment, but he likes to be independent,” Kelly Yoder said.

She and her husband, Bret Yoder, were pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of Jackson’s move from Rolling Hills Elementary to Falcon Creek Middle School, where he was warmly welcomed by students and staff alike.

“The transition to middle school was quite wonderful,” Kelly Yoder said. “We’ve really been well taken care of.”

Jax Yoder's teamJackson is supported by a team that includes special education teacher Michelle Gardner, general education teachers, therapists and para-educators. They are helping Jackson grow academically and expand his speech and language skills. He didn’t start speaking until fourth grade, when his body was finally strong enough to support the demands of speech.

“For us it’s just thrilling,” said Yoder about her son’s emerging language skills.

Grant at computerBecause of Jackson, the Yoders have learned a lot about the special education services available in the Cherry Creek School District. That knowledge was useful, but inadequate, when they began to notice some unusual things about their younger son, Grant, a fifth-grader at Rolling Hills Elementary. Kelly describes him as “an extremely enthusiastic learner.”

“Grant is completely interested in the acquisition of knowledge. The things he talks to me about are already over my head,” Kelly Yoder said.

Grant and teacherFor example, as a first-grader, Grant said he didn’t want to play basketball because he “couldn’t calculate the trajectory to make a basket.” The Yoders discovered Grant could solve complex math problems as long as there was no time limit, but a timed test of simple math facts caused him great anxiety. They worked with district experts in both Special Education and Advanced Academic Services (Gifted Education) and discovered that Grant is “Twice Exceptional.” He was formally identified as gifted and talented and placed on an Advanced Learning Plan. But because of his challenges with speed processing, he also has a 504 Plan through Special Education to accommodate his learning needs.

“I feel like with both Grant and Jackson, we’ve never had a request that wasn’t met with a willingness to address it, to take care of it,” Kelly Yoder said. “My kids have been well taken care of. We are really, really grateful for that.”

Posted 3/21/2017 10:18 AM
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Cherry Creek School District No. 5 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in admission to its programs, services or activities, in access to them, in treatment of individuals, or in any aspect of their operations. The lack of English language skills shall not be a barrier to admission or participation in the district’s activities and programs. The Cherry Creek School District No. 5 also does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices. This notice is provided as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Questions, complaints, or requests for additional information regarding these laws may be forwarded to the designated compliance officer: District Compliance Officer or directly to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region VIII, Federal Office Building 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite #310, Denver, CO 80204.

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