Steven Barnhill, a technical education teacher for Lakewood High School, looks at his woodworking classroom, smiling like a proud father. “Welcome to my world,” Barnhill says with his arms …
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Steven Barnhill, a technical education teacher for Lakewood High School, looks at his woodworking classroom, smiling like a proud father.
“Welcome to my world,” Barnhill says with his arms stretched out as the sound of saws and high school students talking echo throughout the classroom.
Barnhill's woodworking class is unlike any he has taught in his 27 years as an educator. This one is all about unity between students who have special education needs and Lakewood High School's woodworking students.
On Dec. 11, Lakewood High School's woodworking class helped students who have special education needs from Lakewood High School and Alameda High School to build projects for the holidays. The students built bird houses and tool boxes, and the day was part of a program that takes place throughout Jeffco Schools. The program is called the Unified Program, and it is designed for students with special education needs to partner with a coach, or fellow student to work on a common project, or learn with each other, according to Lakewood High School principal Daniel Bock.
“More schools should do stuff like this. It opens a lot of people's eyes to special education kids,” said Jackson Horton, a sophomore at Lakewood High School who participated in the woodworking class. “Some people just don't know much about them, and they make assumptions. Then you start to realize how sweet a kid is and how special they are.”
Barnhill's class was also designed to introduce students who have special education needs to a workplace experience in woodworking.
“I've never done woodworking before. My favorite part of this today was making a tool box,” said Jose Rodarte, an 11th grade student who has special education needs at Alameda High School. Rodarte said he would like to participate in woodworking projects more in the future.
Lakewood High School offers athletics and drama production through the Unified Program, but this is the first time woodworking has been integrated into it.
“It's really heartwarming to see students being accepting of each other. You hear so much in our world about bullying, and these kids just don't care about any of that stuff,” Barnhill said.
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