Chattanooga, TN (WDEF): Orchard Knob Middle School received a new learning center for autistic students Wednesday afternoon.
Crystal Sorrells, Orchard Knob Middle School Principal said, "This is an opportunity for us to develop." More than two dozen Orchard Knob Middle School students with exceptional needs will get the opportunity to use simulation stations throughout their day.
Sorrells said, "It took us about a year to demolish what was the Vocational Education classroom that was under utilized to say the least, and create something special for a group of students who deserve every opportunity to be independent." Leadership Chattanooga worked with companies and organizations to secure donations and help construct the project. Grocery and laundry workspaces are just a few of the new simulation stations built just for the students.
Kristin Roberts, Orchard Knob Middle School Teacher said, "Most of our students are not going to go to college, and the goal of any Special Education Teacher is to really look at the students and figure out what we can do to help them become important parts of our community." Students can work on stocking and bagging in the grocery station. And learn important skills such as washing, drying and folding in the laundry station. Roberts said, "All of those simple jobs that other people might look at and say, 'I don't want to do that.' Well those are jobs that we can teach our kids because those jobs don't change."
Representatives hope the stations better prepare their students to enter the workforce after graduating from Orchard Knob. Roberts said, "Its really just giving the kids a chance to say even though I have a disability and I have autism, I can still be a value." The students will be using the new simulation stations next school year.