Logan County schools will be be adding services this year to help some of the districts special needs students.
In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention released new data on the current prevalence rate of autism in the United States, identifying one in 68 children as having autism spectrum disorders (ASD). As early identification and greater awareness for ASD continues, more services and resources can be provided to children at an earlier age. This is a step Logan County Schools has taken in order to address the varying needs of school-age children identified with autism. The Logan County Board of Education approved the creation of an Autism Services Teacher at the December 2015 meeting.
“During my time as the Director of Special Education and Preschool programs, I have seen the number of children identified grow from less than eight students to now include over 35,” said Dr. Barry Goley.” Therefore, our focus is to have someone available to provide specific services to our students.”
Recently, this position has been filled with a current special education teacher, Mrs. Holly Carpenter.
As the Autism Services Teacher, Carpenter will be working with both students and staff on developing appropriate teaching strategies based upon the needs of the students. Additionally, Mrs. Carpenter is available to staff on locating necessary resources for the classroom, behavioral strategies, or social skills education.
“The addition of Mrs. Carpenter will be a huge asset for our children with autism and their families. Teachers often struggle with what to do, as each child has unique needs,” Goley said. “She will work with everyone from the child to school administrators to the parents.”
Unlike other positions, the Autism Services Teacher is unique to Logan County, as well as the surrounding area. Therefore, Carpenter will have the flexibility of designing the program tailored specifically to the needs of the children.
In addition to supports for the children, Carpenter will also provide parent and community workshops on topics related to autism. During the school year, she will work with schools on providing professional development to teachers and staff.
Carpenter has been a 13-year Kentucky resident and recently moved to Russellville with her husband and two children, one of which has Autism and will start kindergarten at Chandlers in the fall. She received her Bachelor and Master’s degrees at WKU and has worked in early childhood education from 2010-2012, before transitioning to the public school system for children with disabilities in 2012. Carpenter began teaching at Chandler’s Elementary (where she will maintain her “district” office), working with students of all ages with varying disabilities, including autism. Her family participates in the annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks and hosts a yearly fundraising event in Bowling Green to raise donations for the Bowling Green Buddy House for Down Syndrome as well as Autism Speaks to help fund research and programs.
“I look forward to working with Mrs. Carpenter and I am excited to have her expertise regarding autism within our District,” Goley said.