Online learning has been a challenge for many students, but those challenges become magnified if a child has special needs or learning differences.
Fortunately, Gesher Disability Resources’ student support specialists are there to help students with learning challenges through their tutoring services.
“Our team has worked hard over the summer, and we have learned how to use all these different amazing platforms and products for our tutoring and to make it successful and seamless online,” says Jill Wilson, M.Ed., director of education and programs for Gesher Disability Resources.
Jill has been with Gesher for 10 years. She is a special education teacher by trade and has been in the field for more than 20 years.
“Many of the kids that we work with already have attention and focus issues, so we have to make our lessons engaging and fun, and they want to learn right now,” she continues.
Jill says that they use a platform called Kami that allows both the teacher and student to fully annotate a document, creating an engaging and collaborative learning environment.
Another helpful platform is IXL. IXL provides personalized learning in more than 8,500 topics, covering math, language arts, science, social studies, and Spanish. Gesher was able to purchase this program with a grant they received from the Purple Mountain Foundation, a nonprofit based in Scottsdale.
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“You can use it (IXL) to do diagnostics with children and to guide your instruction to make learning online and figuring out what works best for each kid much better,” says Jill. “Because at the end of the day, our philosophy is to meet the students and their individual needs.”
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Most of the students they work with are from the Jewish day schools, but they also have some in public schools. The tutoring program started in 2017, with a few students at Phenix Hebrew Academy, and through word of mouth, the program has been expanding.
The student support specialists offer assistance with academic subjects like math, reading, writing, science and social studies, and also with executive functioning skills like organization, planning and keeping an agenda.
Gesher has worked for years with Jewish days schools and preschools, training teachers on disability topics, working as the resource teacher in schools and providing general accommodation ideas for students. Now they can offer additional help outside of the school day.
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“Our vision is that these kids can stay at the Jewish day schools, even with being identified as having a learning challenge. They don’t have to leave and go to a public school to get the services (they need),” says Jill. “We’re just super happy to represent the Jewish community and work with these kids and keep them in the schools that they want to be at.”
For more information on the tutoring program offered through Gesher, contact Jill at 480-495-4106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.