One Class at a Time: Giving students a voice at LCSSU

Published: Apr. 22, 2023 at 8:23 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - This past week, we highlighted a teacher who has been teaching for 25 years, which the last 14 of those have been spent at Livingston County Special Service Unit. Miss Carissa Webster, a SALES 1 teacher, is this week’s One Class at a Time winner!

A picture is worth a thousand words, and using pictures is an important element in Miss Carissa’s classroom. She showed a deck of picture cards that she uses every day in her classroom, and said, “This card is when we want them to be quiet. This is to check their schedule, so we don’t have to verbally keep saying ‘check your schedule, check your schedule.’”

Majority of the preschoolers in Ms. Carissa’s classroom are non-verbal and heavily rely on I-pads to communicate. Ms. Carissa said, “Technology is huge in my classroom. Right now, we use the PECS system where they have pictures, and they exchange it to us because they’re non-verbal. This technology here will let them have an infinite number of words instead of the PECS book, you can only have so many words in the PECS book.”

But their technology is old and needs an upgrade, so 25News stopped by to help with that. Along with new I-pads, Miss Carissa said more sensory items would be a great addition to their classroom.

″We have a sensory room that’s okay it’s working for us now. But we could get so many sensory things for them which again helps them calm down during the day. The more sensory input they get, the calmer they are, the better they are to attend to us.” For example, she listed, ″Fidget toys that can calm them down. We would really like to get weighted lap blankets, so when they’re sitting down, they can feel the pressure and it calms them down a little bit too.”

She says every day her students teach her just as much as she teaches them. ”I want them to remember me for accepting them and working with them, not on them. Just because they have a disability or a different ability that should not hinder what they can accomplish in life.”