Class at East Meck HS teaches students with special needs how to be independent

Class at East Meck HS teaches students with special needs how to be independent

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Students at East Mecklenburg High School are learning life skills we sometimes take for granted, like doing laundry, folding clothes and making the bed.

The school is the first in CMS to transform a classroom into a studio apartment.

It’s a unique space for students diagnosed with special needs to learn how to be independent. The kitchen was already there, but everything else was donated.

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Channel 9′s Gina Esposito asked one of the students if they had learned a lot from the class and used it back home.

“Yeah, I take it home and I tell my parents, we made pancakes, we made cake, we made mashed potatoes like they’re making,” student Calvin Osborne said.

Nearly 170 students are enrolled in programs for exceptional children at East Meck. The goal for this class is to prepare them for the real world.

Jennifer Degen Mullis helps mold the programs.

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“In the past, our kids used to live at homes for the rest of their lives, and I think this program is a huge catalyst to allow our kids to be independent and I’m so proud of that,” Mullis said.

Osborne is a good example of someone who is doing extremely well.

The 21-year-old took the skills he learned in the classroom and got a job at a nursing home in Charlotte. He works 10 to 15 hours a week and is earning money. The students are also out in the community during the week. They work for nonprofits and have a positive impact on others.

“Sometimes when we leave the school, we usually go to Hope Haven, that’s my favorite place to go to because there are some people that have bad times in their life and sometimes we make them happy, funny, when we come to see them,” Osborne said.

The students are currently putting their skills to the test by washing the clothes of student athletes. They hope to expand the program to offer assistance to students who are homeless.

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