By Danielle Woodward
Mason Times staff writer
On Monday Feb. 11 the Mason Board of Education approved LINKS as a new course for grades 11 and 12.
LINKS, proposed by Executive Director of Curriculum Bruce Barbour, is a peer-to-peer program that partners students with other students that have Autism Spectrum Disorders.
In the course, student pairs would meet at least once a week. A teacher would track their progress and they would follow an online curriculum.
“The idea is for an autistic student to have a partner with them in classes to make them more comfortable,” said School Board Member Laura Cheney.
Cheney said, many who students take this course because they want to go into special education for their career or psychology, and it gives them some real world experience.
Superintendent Mark Dillingham said, the course was run as a pilot with three students for one trimester
It would be offered to students for one trimester that they could take up to six times, although the proposal originally recommended eight, said Dillingham.
“They wanted to reduce that because they didn’t want kids to major in it. Although, you could have kids who want to be special education teachers, focus on that and want to deal especially with autism. It’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Dillingham.
Board member Kurt Creamer said that although as a parent he feels it is good for students to be exposed to these types of situations, as a board member he has concerns as to how this course would be graded.
“What kind of testing or activities do you need to get done to evaluate that as a course? It’s a little bit different than the normal read-a-textbook-take-a-test type of class, “ said Creamer.
According to Cheney, the class should be relatively small with anywhere from 5-15 people and Ashley Brewer, who taught the pilot, will be teaching the course.
“She is donating her time after school in order to help those students learn more about autism and build a curriculum and modules for the course,” said Cheney.