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Out of the Box Ideas Spark Innovation Beyond the Classroom

two girls doing laundry in a washing machine

In a high school in Upper Nazareth Township, PA, a classroom has been converted into a simulated apartment to boost life skills. This simulated apartment is designed to provide a realistic and engaging environment where students can gain practical experience in essential daily living skills, according to the school district. Through evidence-based practices, hands-on activities and real-world applications, about 25 students this school year will work to develop competencies in areas like:

  • Food and kitchen safety: Meal planning, preparation and cleanup.
  • Laundry: Sorting, washing, drying and ironing clothes.
  • Budgeting: Managing finances and making informed spending choices.
  • Planning and organization: Setting goals, prioritizing tasks and managing time effectively.
  • Social skills: Building positive relationships, communicating effectively and navigating social situations.
  • Independent living skills: Personal hygiene, home maintenance and safety procedures.

“This simulated apartment is not just a space, it’s a springboard,” Assistant Superintendent Isabel Resende said. “It will be a training ground where our students with special needs can develop essential skills for living independently, but more importantly they’ll gain confidence, self-reliance and the belief that they are capable of achieving anything they set their mind to.”

Could this be a future Classroom Innovation Grant idea? SEF recognizes  educators who work with children having disabilities possess invaluable insights into effective teaching methods. However, they often encounter limitations due to insufficient funding from regulated tax sources to support advanced projects. Consequently, teachers may find themselves either personally funding materials or abandoning projects deemed too costly. Since 2002, the Special Education Foundation has intervened where public funding falls short.

It was the fall of 2022 when the teacher came up with the idea of the simulated apartment. He approached his life-skills teacher for students with disabilities in the district, then took the proposal for school board for approval.

See the full article from disabilityscoop, written by Kurt Bresswein, The Express-Times/TNS