Special Class Act
BY TERRY POPE
Seventh-grader David Rhodes will probably always
remember the 1984-85 school year. It was the year David
learned to read his first words.
"He didn't even know the alphabet last year," said Jo
Gaughan, a volunteer in Emma Lou Edwards' Shallots
Middle School exceptional childrens' class. "He was really
turned off to reading. It was affecting the morale of the
rest of the group."
Ms. Gaughan introduced David to the Laubach
method of reading in January', an adult reading program
that uses phonics, or the sounds that different combinations
of letters make to help students decode words
phonetically. After just five months of twice a week oneon-one
tutoring sessions, David is now reading at a
"We went in there and the first day I learned
something," David now recalls. "The second day, it was
the same thing."
David liked the idea of learning to read by using a
program designed for adults, Ms. Gaughan said. If he
works hard next year, David will be reading at a fifthgrade
level as an eighth-grade student, after just two
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SCHOOL VOLUNTEER Jo Gaughan, standing, worked
with student David Rhodes this year to teach him to
' read. Ms. Gaughan also introduced the students to the
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years of lessons, she said.
"The first day he read a sentence he shouted, 'I rea
that! I actually read that!' " Ms. Gaughan said.
David suffers from dyslexia, a difficulty in readin
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17 classmates in the exceptional childrens' class also sui
fer from some form of learning disability?ranging fror
autism, severe emotional problems to deafness.
At the first of the year, David refused to study hi
reading assignments with his classmates, who were u:
ing the Palo Alto Reading Program. He was also havin
difficulty attending school, Ms. Edwards said.
"He just didn't have any self-esteem at all," Ms. E(
wards said. "I'm thinking of next year maybe startin
some of the other students on the Laubach program."
Ms. Gaughan, a retired third-grade school teachc
from New Jersey, now lives at Carolina Shores. Sf
volunteers to help teach the class two days each week, ii
ing Laubach materials she obtains through the Hon
County Literacy Council. She learned of the need ft
school volunteers through an advertisement in a loci
"For me, it's great," she said. "It gives me a chanc
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computer. Ms. Kd wards called Mr. Gaughan "a blessing"
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Hterfronl? Phone 579-4600
June 8 4:3(
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34-85 School Year
to use some of the things I've learned. It's good to retire,
d but it's still good to be able to help."
The pages of David's reading books have been
g laminated in clear plastic by Shallotte Middle School
s librarian Kay Coleman. David takes the books
f- everywhere he goes. If Principal Mark Owens comes to
n view the classroom, David "makes him stand in the doorway
and listen to him read," Ms. Edwards said,
.s Ms. Coleman recalled how David would come to
5- school at the first of the year, often dressed in dirty
g clothes and in need of a haircut. Since he began reading
and working on computers in the library, his whole at1
titude toward school has changed, she said. He now keeps
g his hair neat, his clothes clean and has also become a role
model for the class.
r "We took them and let them work on a computer here
le in the library to make them realize that without reading
s- skills you can't function in society," Ms. Gaughan said,
y "The computer is one tool that is maybe making them
>r realize that they need to learn to read."
jl Using computer programs obtained by the school
through the Minnesota Educational Computer Consor:e
tium, some students are learning basic math, such as addition
and multiplication problems on the Apple lie
model computer. Other students who have more difficul
in icmuuig are using uie coinpuier 10 pertorm exercises
that teach directions, such as left from right.
"They've gone from beginning counting to one group
which Is working on multiplications," said Ms. Edwards.
The class is divided into six different reading groups in
the mornings, while "practically no one is doing the same
thing," she added.
"If you saw them last year and compared them to
this year," said Ms. Gaughan, "you could see that they
have made tremendous progress. They learn a lot orally,
jj through ftlmstrips and television shows.
"You arc constantly tiaving to cope with their inm
dividual differences," she added. "They have a wide
? span of abilities."
Earlier in the year, all 18 students were each given a
3 budget of $20 and taken to a shopping center in Shallottc
where they were to purchase different items. One student
bought only items for a cold while others planned meals.
"It was to show them how important reading really
is," Ms. Edwards said. "Willi a limited budget, they reul
ly am realize now mucn reuutng arm counting means.
j Some of them blew it."
"I went way over," David added,
k Eighteen students in u self-contained exceptional
I childrens classroom is considered a "very large class,"
V Ms. Edwards said. To begin the school year, you must
I work with each student, "Just start them where they arc,
I It takes time," she added.
"Ms. Gaughan has been a blessing," she said. "She ii
as dedicated to them us I am. When she's here they con
skder her n teacher, too. She's one in u million."
last Friday was Ms. Gaughan's last day of workin
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BRUNSWICK BEACON. Thursday, June 6, 19S5?Page 5-A
i-ill HI11!"1" I
STAO PMOtOSSY Tt**Y POM
EXCEPTIONAL children's Instructor Emma I>ou Edwards
watches as student Stuart Carter uses the computer
to practice math problems. Allen Lowery awaits
with the students for the school year. The students gave
her a potted plant and each sinned their name to n coril
that Ms. Edwards read to them. Ms. Gaughan told the
students she will be back next year.
Also returning will be aide Anthony Price, who Ms.
Gaughan said lias been "a good Image for the boys."
Price left a private business in Shallottc to return to the
teaching field this year. Working with exceptional
children is something ho enjoys, he said.
"1 think I've become pretty close to some of the
students," Price said. "Having a male around thnt they
can talk to mcaas a lot. Some of the older guys may have
problems *-i growing up and they talk about those problems
In May, Price helped take IB exceptional children
from Brunswick County including three from Uie
Shallottc Middle classroom, to the N.C. Special Olympics
in Charlotte. The three Shallottc Middle students returned
with a gold medal in the Softball throw.
"One thing I was pleased with was their interaction
with other students," Price said.
At a rest stop along the way, the students were also
fascinated by u passing train. Many had never seen a
train before, and it even nuido Price stop to think how
special ihc children and the moment really was.
i "My students arc not like students though," Ms. Ed
wards said. "We do lmvc a student-toucher rolattousldp,
Uit It'* more UVu- u (amity. Many students nu?y come
y froin ted hon es, but hero we're Just tike a faintly."
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