EagleHerald Staff Writer

MARINETTE—Students in Jessica Clochesy’s class at Marinette High School study many important subjects: English, math, and life skills. And at the most recent Marinette School District Board of Education meeting, she and her students had the opportunity to show the board what they do in class.

Clochesy works with 12 special education students in grades 9-12. Her students are considered “neuro-diverse” learners. “In our classroom we recognize that brain differences in both structure and function are normal and natural, not a deficit. Neuro-diverse students experience, interpret and interact with the world in unique ways, just like every individual on the planet does,” Clochesy said.

Students in this program spend some of their time in general education classrooms but also work with Clochesy on academics and or hands-on lessons designed to teach them life skills and prepare them for the world beyond high school.

“It’s a really diverse group,” said Clochesy, who added that the experiential learning helps support the students’ academic and intellectual growth. She and Brian Sutton, the director of student services, shared a video about her students as part of a Spotlight on Learning presentation at the last board meeting. They were joined by two of Clochesy’s students who discussed some of their job shadow and work experiences as they transition from high school.

“We are highlighting one of our unique special education settings in our school district,” Sutton said, adding that he wants board members to learn more about the ways the district provides a robust educational program for students who experience barriers to learning in a more traditional learning environment.

One of the class’s recent hands-on projects highlighted at the meeting involved studying an osprey that had built a nest in the lights at the high school track. Clochesy said the students visited the nest and recorded observations about what they saw, then used their observations to help them identify what type of bird had built the nest. In the process, they learned about how to make scientific observations and how to identify birds.

Another exercise was to plan and put on a Halloween open house for teachers and administrators. The students assigned duties to themselves and made task lists. They decorated their room and on the day of the party practiced their social skills as they greeted their guests.

Clochesy said planning the open house was a way for the students to practice their “executive level” skills like organization and creating and completing tasks as well as social skills such as interacting with new people.