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Special Education / Developmental Disabilities
Helping children and adults

Dec. 18, 2013 — Imagine a world where reading is a challenge because the letters are backward; where a fire alarm is a major stressor; where navigating stairs is impossible because of a wheelchair.


These are real scenarios faced daily by those with disabilities.

Learning how to serve people with special needs is the goal of TCC’s Special Education/Developmental Disabilities program.

Jerry Mayhew, program director, noted, “There is an ongoing movement to integrate children and adults with disabilities in schools and community settings with supported living and employment programs. We train future teachers and assistants to provide the structure, educational plans and tools necessary for teaching children and adults to learn and manage real-life situations.”

Students designed special school settings to include desks with chairs that rock, sensory areas, snack space and a quiet zone.
Students designed special school settings to include desks with chairs that rock, sensory areas, snack space and a quiet zone.

“The field of special education is wide open,” said Kelly Baldwin-Watkins, a TCC alumna and special education instructor who also works in the field. “We are seeing an increase in needed services. Students who enjoy teaching to a student’s style of learning will appreciate the program and find meaningful work.”

Instructors Michelle Ludwick and Kelly Baldwin-Watkins review final projects with students in the Introduction to Autism class.
Instructors Michelle Ludwick and Kelly Baldwin-Watkins review final projects with students in the Introduction to Autism class.

Special Education/Developmental Disabilities classes include Introduction to Developmental Disabilities, EDU 250; Teaching Basic Academic Skills to Exceptional Children, EDU 245; Behavior Modification, EDU 255; and Introduction to Autism, EDU 270, the program’s newest offering.

Lori Gindlesperger is passionate about serving children with special needs, especially those with autism. “I came here for my son, who lives with autism, and I’ve definitely gained knowledge and skills that are helping at home,” she said “But I also found my true calling in the classroom.”

Most classes include a laboratory setting, providing students the opportunity to work in a supervised capacity to create lesson plans and demonstrate skills. The program also includes a four-credit hour internship in an educational setting.


Lugonda Vann is back in the classroom for recertification for her job as special needs liaison at Pruden Center for Industry and Technology. “I enjoy working with people with challenges and helping them be successful. I take what I learn here and put it into practice the next day,” she said.


Lugonda Vann shares about her learning space.
Lugonda Vann shares about her learning space.
Lori Gindlesperger found her calling in the classroom.
Lori Gindlesperger found her calling in the classroom.

“Our focus is on abilities, not disabilities,” Baldwin-Watkins added. “It’s amazing to see how we impact lives. The highlight moments are when students learn new skills or manage situations better today than the day before.”