The Student News Site of Kingsway Regional High School

The Flame

The Student News Site of Kingsway Regional High School

The Flame

The Student News Site of Kingsway Regional High School

The Flame

Inclusive Education Is The Best Education

All About the Kingsway Step and Special Education Program

Kingsway provides two programs of opportunity: the STEP and Special Education Program, both of which ensure all students with different needs have the same successes as anyone else who goes to Kingsway.

STEP Program

STEP stands for Structured Transitional Education Program. The STEP program aims to offer various hands-on learning opportunities to help students acquire the skills necessary to live independently.

Kingsway’s Director of Special Services, Shanna Hoffman, has been working with this title for ten years. “I am responsible for the staff and ensuring students have the appropriate support,” she said.

Other STEP teachers include Joanne Gagne, Dianna Montague, Lauren Charlton, Dean Ilconich and Laura Halter.

Although Hoffman said she is not too involved with these students she does help oversee the school store. “It allows the student’s opportunity to work and me to get involved,” she said. While overseeing the teachers she also works heavily with the case managers of these students.

Hoffman also works with Charae Whetstone, Instructional Supervisor of Special Education, to oversee STEP and special education programming. 

One of the main case managers is Maria DiGiovanni, who has been a case manager for twenty-four years. Her job is to make sure everyone in the program follows what the students need for success while working with the parents or guardians of the students.

The students in the STEP program are each given an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan. It is a legal document that outlines the program and the service that the student will receive. It also contains goals and objectives for the student.

These students in the STEP program are different. “The STEP students vary based on behavior and learning,” DiGiovanni said. One of her favorite things about being a case manager is “learning from kids who have a different perspective,” she said. “Every day looks different. I talk with everyone daily.”

Special Education Program

On the other hand, Kingsway’s Special Education program intends to meet the learning needs of students identified as having a disability that impacts their ability to learn.

Jason Finlaw has been working at Kingsway for six years but he had large leadership roles when it comes to the Step and Special Education programs. Finlaw teaches Social Studies, English Language Arts, and Daily Living.

When making his lesson plans he has to keep every student in mind according to their IEP. “I want all students to be a part of the lesson. They are all doing the same work but everyone has something that makes it different,” he mentioned.

When asked about the most challenging thing about teaching in this program he said, “It’s being a teacher in general. You always strive for more. As a teacher you are never quite satisfied. You are always wanting more.”

While that is challenging, there is always a bright side. One of his favorite things about the program is “watching the students grow and improve and building those relationships.”

Another teacher in the program is Danielle Kaiser. While Kaiser has only taught at Kingsway for three years she has been impacted so much. She teaches math, science, and Daily Living in this program.

One of the reasons she got into special education was because she joined Unified Sports at Rowan University. She said, “I liked the environment and felt wanted and like the feeling of being needed. I want to help others.” One of her favorite parts of working with these students is “knowing I made a difference and seeing the progress when they reach a goal.”

While there are good, there are challenges. “Every student is unique,” Kaiser said. She continues on by saying, “It is knowing your students well and understanding their brains,” she said.

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