Special Education Program

Green Hills Academy is an inclusive school. We welcome learners with special educational needs if we are able to meet those needs. At Green Hills, we believe that an inclusive school community in which learners with special educational needs learn with their typically developing peers is the best approach for all learners. Research has proven that inclusion creates one of the best learning environments not only for learners with special educational needs, but the whole school community.

At Green Hills Academy we design programs to meet learners’ needs. Learners with special educational needs attend classes with their typically developing peers to the extent that they can. The rest of the time is spent working on skills that might not be explicitly taught in class. Some of those skills include fine motor skills, gross motor skills, specific communication skills, social skills and behavior management skills. The program uses a combination of push in and pull out services to provide appropriate instruction in an environment that is as least restrictive as possible.

Since Rwanda does not have many Special Education educators, Green Hills Academy employs assistant teachers to work individually with learners. The assistants receive ongoing training on the skills that they need to support the learners with their learning. The assistants work closely with the Special Education teacher and the Special Education Coordinator to make sure that the learners are getting the help they need. Assistants are trained in evidence based strategies and general information like:

1. Universal design for learning

2. Functional behavior analysis

3. Categories of disabilities and their characteristics

4. Sensory integration

5. Assessment strategies

6. Multiple intelligences

7. Behavior reinforcement strategies and more

The Special Education Coordinator creates an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for learners with special needs. The IEP is created after the learner has been observed, assessed for a period of two months (if they are new). Observations and assessments are made by the SPED Coordinator, the SPED Teacher, as well as the learner’s teachers where possible, to obtain the learner’s current level of performance, as well as appropriate goals that are challenging but achievable. Once the IEP is finalized, a meeting is held with all the stakeholders; parents, Principal, homeroom teacher, teaching assistant, SPED Coordinator and SPED Teacher. The purpose of the IEP meeting is to share the goals that have been drafted, as well as to get everyone involved in the child’s education on the same page. For returning learners, their IEPs are reviewed every year and goals are adjusted as needed. The learner’s IEP must include the following areas as appropriate:

1. Parent and learner concerns

2. Learner’s strengths

3. Vision statement

4. Curriculum areas affected by learner’s disability

5. Current level of performance

6. Accommodations and modifications

7. Other educational needs

8. Measurable annual goals

9. Manageable objectives

10. Assessment consideration

11. Non-participation justification

Green Hills Academy places learners with special educational needs according to their age, as opposed to their academic performance. This gives the learners in the program a chance to interact with their same-age peers. Interaction with their same-aged, typically-developing peers allows the learners to be in an environment that fosters their language and behavior development. Having learners in the program in regular classrooms gives them more opportunities to learn age-appropriate behaviors.

If a learner that is already enrolled at GHA needs special education services, we follow a ten-step referral process to determine the learner’s needs and make sure that the program is the appropriate intervention to help them perform to their fullest potential. Below is the outline of the ten steps:

1. Teacher completes the Initial Concerns Form

2. Special Education Coordinator conducts the initial classroom observation

3. SPED Coordinator Interviews concerned teachers

4. SPED Coordinator interviews the learner’s previous teacher

5. SPED Teacher assesses the learner’s academic performance

6. SPED Coordinator conducts second and third observation

7. SPED Coordinator conducts additional assessments as needed

8. SPED Coordinator interviews the learner’s parents

9. SPED Coordinator compiles the evidence and writes recommendations for intervention

10.SPED Coordinator, SPED Teacher, Principal, Teacher and learner’s parents have a conference to discuss and agree on a plan

We believe that learners with special educational needs deserve an education like any other learner, and we provide it to the best of our ability, with the resources available. Having learners with special educational needs here at Green Hills Academy makes our school a more wholesome community, that is representative of the real world. We work hard to prepare all learners to be successful members of their communities after they leave Green Hills Academy.