Golden Apple recipient works to create a classroom culture
By Kris Leonhardt
GREEN BAY – Pulaski Community Middle School educator, Sarah Morgan, is working to create a classroom culture that is both safe and nurturing.
Morgan was a recent recipient of the 2023 Greater Green Bay Chamber Golden Apple awards and spends her days teaching those with intellectual disabilities in grades six to eight.
“Creating culture is an important part of my classroom program. Monthly, my students work in our restaurant which incorporates academic and functional skills,” she explained.
“The students plan, shop, cook, serve and deliver. We also work to grow food in our school garden as we process pizza and spaghetti sauces. The restaurant allows our students to take an early role on working on pre-vocational skills needed for future employment.
“In addition, I work to build a culture within our school. Often in special education, we ‘push into’ regular education.”
Morgan uses a “reverse inclusion” experience, where regular education students are brought into the classroom, where those with intellectual disabilities already have a safe, established environment.
“Here, we have games, crafts, cooking, and community service where my students are able to work on social, communication and recreational skills with peers,” she explained.
“Our group supports each other in homeroom, lunch and in general classes. The culture of caring and inclusion is school-wide which assists and enriches all.
“Culture is important in the community. Twice a month, our students attend ‘Grit920,’ an adaptive bootcamp for exceptional athletes. Grit920 is a collaboration to bring real-life, functional exercise experiences to students with disabilities. We learned that exercise is for all and through modifications we are able to assist students with functional movement, strength, balance, health, wellness and age-respectful activities in a community setting.”
They are in their seventh year of the partnership and looking to bring the program to other schools.
The school has also partnered with a local business to create a “community-based experience” for secondary students with disabilities.
“The work tasks are differentiated. Younger students fold and label pizza boxes while older students fulfill pizza orders. This yearly event incorporates many skills and opportunities,” Morgan explained. Through these and other programs, the school is providing students with experience, knowledge and abilities that will take them into the future, while providing an opportunity to fail, learn and grow. “These experiences help students to grow in a nurturing environment so that they can be as independent as possible,” Morgan said.