A Day With the HISD/HCCS Lifeskills Transitional Program Special Education Class
Today, I visited with the HISD/HCCS (Houston Independent School District/Houston Community College System) Lifeskills Transitional Program Special Education class for the second time. A few weeks ago, I was invited to be a guest lecturer for the same class by instructor Jilianne Barzilla. My goal for that day was to share with the students what it means to be a professional photographer and what we do on a daily basis. The program serves developmentally disabled students who have completed twelfth grade but who are not ready to leave the school system due to a need to learn independent living skills. Students are taught functional reading, writing, and math skills in addition to accessing public transportation, comparative shopping, and job skills. All of the students have moderate to severe developmental disabilities.
From the moment that I walked in on that first day, I knew that this was going to be a special group of people and that I would want to come back again to witness their lives expand through the guidance of of their instructor. I’ve had the luxury of being able to lecture and teach at various institutions in Texas and NYC, but that day gave me a new perspective on what and how we share with others when we teach.
Today, Jilianne had quizzes for them to prepare them for job interviews where the students identified different types of jobs that out there in the world. Part of her goal today was to make sure that they knew their own addresses and phone numbers as well as all pertinent contact information. She talked with them about what they are interested as far as jobs go and from there the students took off with excitement at the prospects of working full time. Some of the students already have jobs working for various places that hire the developmentally disabled and one student even came in to the class straight from a job interview. Her patience and compassion resonated through the class and the love that the students hold for her was evident.
This group of photos captures some of what today was like in her class. The students started out a bit shy but as the day went on, they warmed up and began hamming it up for the camera. I’m looking forward to the next day that I can be there again.