Lilly, Bocock stay optimistic in the face of COVID restrictions


Caleb Goss

Students wash hands before taking part in baking homemade trail mix for their weekly “Fun Friday”.

Caleb Goss, Visual Content Editor in Chief

“We miss our friends,” Special Education (SPED) teacher Stephanie Lilly said.

What used to be a school filled with over 1,900 students is now a ghost town. With only a select group of students attending school in person, SPED teachers Stephanie Lilly and Susie Bocock have had to adapt to the quiet.

“We’re a lot smaller. I miss all the rest of the kids. We see them [over Google Meet], but it’s not the same. These kids, they need to be social,” Becock said. “Young kids need to be social, especially our kids because we’re trying to teach them how to [talk and be] with people. We miss the other students because they [would] always come down and help us. We can’t even do our plays; we can’t even [have] our band music. This school is missing a lot of the cool stuff for these young kids. That’s what I’m sad about for them.”

“It’s really important for both the students without disabilities and our students with disabilities to have that interaction, and so, it’s just kind of a loss at this point that they aren’t getting that experience together,” Lilly said. 

“COVID, I can’t wait till it’s over. It’s just terrible,” Bocock said.

One way Lilly and Bocock’s students would stay engaged is by going out into the community to learn about jobs. Due to COVID-19, that opportunity, as well as their mobile cafe Joe-to-Go, has been taken away from them following COVID-19 restrictions. Finding ways to improvise, Lilly and the other two SPED teachers are working towards starting Blue Streak Central: a copy business that laminates, copies and organizes the mail room. In the meantime, the class has “Fun Fridays” to keep their students engaged and practice social skills.  

“We try to do things that would be relevant to them that they could possibly do later on in life. Either a snack or a meal that they can hopefully do or participate in later. We do ‘Fun Fridays’ because our students work during the week. They get paid Blue Streak Bucks. If you had a real job out in the community where you would get money, you would be able to go to a movie or buy something at a store, so we have a class store,” Lilly said. “They get to buy movies [and] they get to buy snacks to go with their movie. That’s what our ‘Fun Friday’ is. The morning cooking activity tends to have an educational piece to it.”

Although Lilly and Bocock have had to face adversity, they still stay optimistic for the students as they look towards the future.

“On the [bright side] is other students, juniors and seniors, are learning a lot about computers and that’s going to be good for them for college. Our kids need one on one, so we can’t wait till everyone gets back so we can bring them in because they need us,” Bocock said. “COVID, I can’t wait till it’s over. It’s just terrible,” Bocock said.

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