One foundational aspect of “life-wide” education at Trousdale School is the development of daily life skills. Our goal for each student at Trousdale School is to teach independence through these skills. In our life skills classes, students work toward a goal of living on their own with minimal supervision. Students practice cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, menu planning, budgeting, and decision making in an area of campus known as the Life Skills Lab. The lab is set up as a model apartment in which students might one day live, complete with a bedroom area, closet, kitchen, dining area, and washer and dryer. During life skills classes, students cook, do laundry, and clean the apartment as if this was their home. The students love this opportunity to work in a real life setting as they prepare for independent living. Preparing these men and women to live, work, and be active members of their community truly embodies the vision and mission of Trousdale School to teach “Learning for Life.”
The primary goal of the computer lab at Trousdale School is to facilitate independence. The question has never been “Can they learn?” bur rather, “How do we share this new opportunity with these men and women, whom most people know only by their limitations?” We introduced them to the CPU, keyboard, monitor and mouse, and now, years later, many of them are introducing us to their iPads, tablets, and laptops.
With the right tools and skills, the impossible becomes possible. One young lady learned the keyboard using a computer program. She then took those letters and made words with them, which then turned into sentences. Each letter, each word, each sentence gives her the tools she needs to communicate, the confidence with which to express herself, and the skills she needs for increasing independence in her future.
Computer class has also given students the tools to find information independently. Once students sit down at a computer, they can use specific questions and detailed search queries to reach their desired destinations on the internet. Over the past year, we have witnessed the student’s growth in their ease of use and their understanding of the right questions to ask to reach their goals on their own. “Where are the pictures?” has turned into “Do we have pictures online of school from 2009?” Many students now bring their own notes for computer lab free time to access their own content independently to write a letter to a former teacher. Computer skills are giving the students independence and the ability to seek knowledge on their own.