The Board welcomes all members present as well as those of you who are viewing through the webcast. This is our first time attempting a webcast, and we look forward to your feedback. It is our desire that interested parties in all areas of the country may benefit from this annual meeting.
We are thankful to all of our patrons whose support is shown by your attendance here and by your financial support of the Special Education Association. More importantly, we are thankful for the prayers to our heavenly Father, who has in His infinite wisdom graciously given us many children, each with his God-given abilities, children whom we are privileged to educate to the best of our ability. It is of great value to all of us to be able to have our special needs children participate in the communion of the saints in our schools. The experience in the regular classrooms is important for all students, and sometimes more so for our able-bodied students. God has given many different abilities. There are many parts of the body, and each part is needed to make the body function properly.
The programs that the Special Education Board supports are not run in a vacuum. The Board thanks all of the school boards, education committees, administrators, teachers, regular classroom teachers, aides, and volunteers, who make this important work happen. The amount of time that is given by these individuals, whether paid or volunteered, is awe-inspiring. Without all this help, the task would be much greater and the effort would be much less productive.
The list of schools that we assist financially continues to grow. Currently Special Education supports programs at Adams, Covenant Christian High, Eastside, Hope, Doon, and Loveland, as well as fully supporting the Special Education Program located at Heritage Christian School in Hudsonville.
In the past few years the Board has tried to clear up the misconception of some that Special Education is a program belonging to Heritage. It is not. It is true that we as a Society have a room of our own at Heritage Christian, making that school our location of operation, and we as a Society pay for the teachers and aides. But we continue also to assist the Resource Rooms at the above-mentioned schools with 20% of their expenses. Doon and Loveland each have their own special education programs, which are funded by us at a higher level of 50%. With the future expansion of the Special Education Association into Covenant Christian with a dedicated room, perhaps this misconception will finally go away.
The Board receives regular reports from the various resource rooms to give us knowledge of what they deal with and how many students are receiving services. Sometimes a challenge they are facing has been dealt with at another school. For the students who attend some of the regular classrooms, communication between the teachers and faculty of the various programs is very important. The goal is to communicate and share experience for the good of the students. We want to promote communication amongst the various teachers to share and learn from each other. As a Board we also strive to visit the Resource Rooms in the local schools. We go to gain knowledge of what they are doing and to offer encouragement for their work.
We use the opportunity of this report to give a special thank-you to our staff: Karen Ensink, Deb Hoeksema, Nikki Schipper, Shelly Start, Amy Westing, and Mary Van Overloop, who is the administrator of the Discovery Program at Heritage.
The Special Education program supports four students full time in our grade school: Will Hanko, who is in 3rd grade; Kara Kaptein, who participates in 7th grade; Jason Overweg, who is in 5th grade; and Travis Peterson, who also is in 5th grade. We are looking forward to having Isabella Potjer coming to our program next year for a couple days a week. All of the students are integrated into the regular classrooms, so that the student body can be educated and aware of how to interact with these wonderful children.
Last year’s financial report mentioned that our drive was about $35,000 short of its goal. We conducted a second drive and the result was that receipts were more than our shortage. This year’s drive fell short by $44,500 and we are currently conducting a second drive to fulfill our obligations. Through April, we have received $25,500 from the Spring Drive. Please be mindful of this shortage of $19,000. As a Board we covet your support, in prayers, in participation, and financially.
In this past year both Iowa schools, Doon and Hull, have contacted us, seeking assistance. Doon has begun a special education program with up to three special education students coming up, one from Doon, possibly one from Sioux Falls, and possibly one from Hull. Hull has a resource room to serve the students and families of their society. We are striving to help them and have committed roughly $20,000 in total to the two schools. We also have offered them the knowledge and experience of our staff, so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
The school in Dyer, IN, formerly South Holland, has also been in contact with us. To date, they have not made a request for financial assistance or other support. We do encourage them and anticipate that in the future there may be an additional opportunity for the Society to assist.
As a Board we encourage all the schools to make their constituents aware of the need to support Special Education through our drives and church collections. In August of 1983, almost 29 years ago, this effort began, with those efforts culminating in the formation of a Special Education Society on April 20, 1984. God has kept us faithful in the work He has given us, to instruct the covenant children with special needs. 2012 marks another beginning. Beginning this fall, the Society will start a secondary education program, as students will begin attending Covenant Christian High School in the Special Ed. Room that was constructed in their recent addition. As a Board we thank Covenant Society for including this room in their addition. We are also thankful that the Resource Room is being relocated to a larger room in the existing facility. The Special Ed. Board has formed many sub-committees to prepare for this transition. Committees are made up of Special Education Teachers, Resource Room teachers, Spec. Ed. Board members, Covenant Board members, and parents.
I would like to make special mention of an annual event here at Heritage and encourage our other schools to consider their own similar event. Heritage had “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Day” again this year. Each classroom has a presentation, each on a particular disability. This day again was a wonderful success. Prof. Dykstra led the school chapel on that special day. We thank all who were involved in organizing this event. The feedback from the students is that this is a very valuable experience for them.
With regard to the work of the Board, we report that the financial books were audited and found to be in good order. Our Publicity Committee has been assigned the task of making short reports for the church newsletters to keep all informed of what is happening, what events are coming up. You should be seeing these regularly now.
We thank the retiring Board members, Eugene Kamps and Deane Wassink. The Board is made up of seven members. Those still serving are Tim Block and Justin Koole with two years left; Jordan Vander Kolk and I have one year left. Our President, Andy Peterson, was appointed at last year’s meeting as the Parent Representative. He has two years of service left.
We thank God for His grace and His work in our hearts to make us as a board and as a society faithful.