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Oxnard, CA: Elem school adds 2 rooms for emotionally disturbed students

Oct 19, 2018, Ventura County (CA) Star: Oxnard opens classroom doors to a specialized program for students with emotional needs In Isabel Olachea's classroom at McAuliffe School in Oxnard, things run just a little differently. There are only a handful of desks — no more than six. The space is just as inviting and welcoming as any other elementary classroom, full of color and motivational posters. There are fidget bands — think an oversized rubber band — attached to the front of the desks so students with wiggly feet have someplace to channel their energy. There are things the kids can have at their desks like Play-Doh or stress balls to help them calm nerves. Then there's a door that leads to something that immediately sets the space apart from its counterparts on campus. It's a quiet room, a space where students experiencing overwhelming feelings or anxiety can seek refuge. It's a safe place, a haven for kids who are feeling overstimulated. The classroom is one of two brand new spaces in the Oxnard School District that are designed specifically for students who are classified as having a difficult time regulating their emotions. These kids often need smaller class sizes and a bit more structure to develop the skills that will allow them to be successful in school. Christa McAuliffe School has a Therapeutic Learning Classroom, program started this year by the Oxnard School District. The schools two classrooms are for students who are classified as having a difficult time regulating their emotions. … ...The rooms are at McAuliffe School and are new to the district this year. The teachers work on making sure the students act in socially appropriate ways and give them the tools they need to cope in stressful situations. These are students who may have been disruptive or had outbursts in a general education classroom before. The district had been doing its best to give students the support they need in a general education setting, but that doesn't work for all learners, Sugden said, and adding in the program and structure of the TLC rooms was a necessary step. Giving the kids the support they need Mary Samples, longtime leader of the Ventura County Special Education Local Plan Area who retired last month, said she's thrilled Oxnard started the TLC rooms this year. … It's actually great that they are opening these rooms. They'll be able to serve their own students and not send them out of their home district." Samples said countywide the number of students who have this diagnosis has only gone up by about 100 in 13 years. In 2003, Ventura County had 922 with a label of emotional disturbance, in 2018 that number is 1,037. "But the acuity of the emotional issues are becoming much greater," Samples said. "The kinds of things happening with these kids are much more significant than they have been in the past." …

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