SFUSD student Noah, left, brings refreshments to teachers with the coffee cart. (Courtesy SFUSD via YouTube)

Giving thanks to special teachers

Thanksgiving is a few days away, and soon we will gather with friends and family to eat and give thanks for many, many things.

This brings to mind the many types of families that are created in our classrooms. Like families, we are a mixed blend of ages and unique personalities.

I’d like to share a moment of gratitude for some of the many Special Education teachers who bring an abundance of love and creativity to their work with students with special needs.

Building community

Sadie Guthrie, teacher at Lawton Alternative School, has a coffee cart enterprise with her students who receive Special Education Services. The students take beverage and food orders from teachers, pick up donated baked goods from a local community bakery and make coffee. Then they roll their coffee cart around the school to serve teachers — with their wonderful personalities and humor in tow.

Not only are these students building life skills, they are meeting and becoming friends with everyone in the school and neighborhood businesses as well.

Life skills for older students

The coffee cart idea was actually started several years ago in the San Francisco Unified School District by Special Education teacher Heidi Seretan when she taught at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.

The transitional age youth (between 18 and 22) whom she teaches at AccessSFUSD: The Arc, have a cart too and learn all kinds of life skills by interning at places like the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Academy of Sciences and exploring the arts through digital media and collaborations with A.C.T.

Tireless support

We opened a new middle school this year, Willie Brown Middle School, and with that came big transitions for an all new staff and student body.

Thankfully, Special Education teacher Ricki Jo Scott is committed to working with General Education teachers to support students with special needs in their classrooms across all subject areas.

According to her co-workers, Scott makes sure everyone is able to see the strengths and potential of each and every student.

See for yourself

Luckily Ms. Seretan and Ms. Guthrie’s students are featured in videos that you can watch with your whole family over the holidays. Check them out on YouTube for some inspiration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1dBa6f0qyk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQpa_ecn9ZQ

Everyone have a safe, restful Thanksgiving holiday. Please join me in saying thanks to all the teachers in our lives.

Richard Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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