As construction crews broke ground this week at the extension of DSST’s inaugural Autism Center Program at the DSST: Stapleton campus, Katie Lents is excited about continuing her successes on an even larger scale. Katie, the Center Program’s Program Coordinator, currently runs the classroom at Stapleton Middle School that serves students who have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
One and half years into her time here at DSST, Katie has already greatly increased the size and scale of her program. Now with seven students, with a wide range of ability levels, the program follows a set schedule of learning blocks including reading, writing, math, and social skills. Those students who participate in general education classes follow a regular DSST daily schedule. The Program provides a structured learning environment with time to learn socio-emotional regulation as well as academic responsibilities.
The Center Program, now in its second year, was inspired largely by the belief that underlies all of DSST—educational equity. Katie explains, “DSST believes that all students have the right to learn. This is simply another population that we need to help achieve their absolute highest potential—it’s our job to open those doors and serve these students.”
Anyone who walks into Room 308 in Stapleton Middle School can attest that it is a vibrant learning community filled with wonderful personalities. Katie is excited that there are true, authentic relationships forming and plenty of learning embedded in that process. The amazing paras and teachers in the Program have successfully struck a great balance between ensuring that students are feeling successful but are always continuously challenged and pushed to achieve.
These successes will be continued and amplified when doors open at the new Center Program in Stapleton High School. The new space will include a classroom specifically designed for vocational and life skills curriculum. As construction continues on this new classroom addition, we are all looking forward to the opportunity to serve even more of the children in our community.