special development & autism

Special Education Program Updates!

In January 2023 McRae-Gaines Learning Center was able to hire a Special Education teacher, Mrs. Harriett Thomas, to work together with consultant Candice Pettaway to develop the school’s first official program that will address the challenges McRae’s students with developmental delays face. This position was funded in part with a grant from the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Since then, Mrs. Thomas has joined the SPeD Team made up of Director Moss, teacher Sharon Williams, assistant teacher, Marshall McCary, and a Board member to meet twice a month to set up the IEP process, and prioritize the best furnishing, teaching tools and equipment necessary to address the challenges of the current students. Mrs. Thomas and Ms. McCary met with Dr. Doris Hill, Director of the Regional Autism Network at Auburn University, for training in recent advances in pedagogical methodology for special needs students and subsequently scheduled a training on July 8th for all the teachers at McRae. Twenty teachers and staff attended the training.

The next training objective is to schedule a parent meeting with a panel of experts who will familiarize McRae’s parents with the advances in services for children with developmental delays. The SPeD Team wants to develop an awareness in the McRae-Gaines community of the possibilities that exist for their children with these delays and provide them with important tools to work with their children at home.

At the urging of Dr. Hill, the SPeD team has requested a meeting with the administrations of Selma City Schools and Dallas County Schools to develop a source for speech therapy for the current students, three of whom are not able to speak.

The last objective for the Team this year is to review the record keeping applications that might be appropriate for following students’ progress in the Special Education class and when mainstreamed during certain periods of the day. Once that program is chosen the ACDD grant provides funds to purchase the software and a server where all McRae teachers can access the information and contribute to the education of each of our

Ms. Candice Pettaway, MLA, hired as Special Education Consultant!

As announced, McRae-Gaines Impact and Evaluation Committee has hired Ms. Candice Pettaway, as our Special Education Consultant.

Ms. Pettaway will be responsible for the establishment of special education systems, routines, and processes, training MGLC staff on special education service delivery and progress monitoring and keeping the Board of Directors abreast of all relevant federal, state and local statute requirements.

She possesses deep knowledge of federal, state and local requirements of IDEA, alongside previous experience in the establishment and development of special education practices and processes (reporting, evaluation, etc.).

In her first month on staff, Ms. Pettaway plans to establish an implementation team to develop and solidify a strategic plan for Year 1 implementation that reports to the School Board, consisting of Representatives from the Board of Directors, a School Administrator, a Parent Representative, Part-Time Special Education Instructor and Assistant. Get ready to become engaged!