Life Skills, teaching math to manners
The Life Skills program at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School is much more than the two word description. It is program that gives its special needs students the basic educational courses, but goes much further by teaching the students how to live in the world outside the classroom. The complex at LCM includes a classroom, a parlor, a dining area, and a kitchen. Terrie Parker has been the instructor for the program for the last 13 years. Parker is assisted in the program by paraprofessionals Betty Guidroz, Stacie Peveto, Mamie Johnson, and Morgan Milligan.
The students have the regular curriculum as prescribed by the state. In addition they also learn practical life lessons. “We give our students regular instruction, and we also teach them basic things like how to shop for groceries, how to handle money, things they need to know to be functional in everyday living. We have trips to Walmart, to the Lutcher Theater. We go out to eat and teach them to read the menus and how to order. In addition we instruct them in proper manners. Our program is self supporting. The only thing the school district pays for is transportation. Our staff is dedicated and we have a wonderful group of students”, said Parker. “This year has been a great year, we went to the state flag football tournament in Waco at Baylor University and won the tournament. Our team played four games. They got to practice in the indoor facility that the Baylor football team uses. It was a great experience for our team.”
The team consisted of six players and five volunteer partners. Team coaches were LCM assistant principal Jason Yeaman, who was head coach, assisted by Michael Ridout, assistant principal at LC Intermediate, and science teacher Corey Parsons, serving as a chaperone as well as assistant coach.
“The same time we had the flag football games going we also had students who participated in a bowling tournament in Beaumont. We had three bowlers who brought home one gold and two silver medals. There is also a track team. It is a unified team that is made up of two students and two partners. We are part of the Life Force Team of Special Olympics”, said Parsons.
To raise the money the program needs the Life Skills unit solicits donations, but the bulk of the money is raised by the students themselves. The most recent project has been the sales of nearly 700 cheese logs. The logs were cheddar cheese and jalapeño cheese logs. The cheese logs are made and packaged by the students and sold by orders and direct sales. Deliveries were made by the students. “Every Friday we bake and sell cookies in the school cafeteria. Our entire student body supports the Life Skills class. Our cookies are made according to the standards required to be sold in the cafeteria and we always sell out”, said Parker.
Major strides have been made in the education of special needs students. The students of today are active in all school activities and the student body has accepted the students and includes them in student activities. “We have a great student body at LCM. The regular students accept and make friends with our special needs kids and often a regular student will come by our class rooms when they have free time and offer to help, or they will just come by to say hello to their friends in our program. Sometimes it takes a lot of patience, but this is a very rewarding program. We are working hard to erase the “R” word. “R” meaning “retarded”, said Parker. “We have students who have jobs in the community. One works as a busboy at Casa Ole, another at Pizza Hut assembling the pizza boxes and filling the salt shakers. There are some that work at North Orange and Little Cypress Baptist Churches and some that work here in the school cafeteria. There is nothing they are not capable of doing when they are given a chance.”