Students at Cypress school are grateful to have Carole Savoy as their dance teacher every Tuesday afternoon. From 1:00-1:30pm Carole hosts the middle school students. Carole is now in her 26th year of teaching dance in Petaluma. She has extensive training in jazz and tap dance. She also taught pre-ballet for 10 years. Carole’s dance studio, Footloose Dance Center, which is off of Old Redwood Highway in Petaluma has a mirror which takes up an entire wall. This mirror is great for the students to watch them selves dance and see where their bodies are in space. Dance class is a very flexible, adaptable class where students are allowed the space and time to be creative and dance freely. Carole has been great with adapting the physical set up of her classroom to better accommodate our students. She also has purchased music that has been requested by our students. Dance is a great mix of fun and exercise.
“Brilliant”, “Natural with students”, “Able to gently push our students to their physical thresholds while simultaneously building their self confidence” are several phrases that come to mind when thinking of Cypress’s middle school gymnastics teacher, Steve Sassone. Every Wednesday afternoon from 12:45pm -1:15pm the middle school class heads to Redwood Empire Gymnastics at 434 Payran Street in Petaluma. The students have learned their routine: take their shoes off and start their warm up with Steve for around 10 minutes, where they do an array of physical warm up exercises where they are able to practice following simple and direct instructions. The students and staff enthusiastically shout, “Next challenge” while awaiting their next task from Steve. After warm up the students head out to the main gym floor and each week utilize different equipment and activities, some which are: foam pit, trampolines, rings, rope swing, etc. The students and staff are all very encouraging and supportive of others as they attempt new and challenging activities. The students end each gymnastics lesson by huddling together with Steve and our Cypress staff and cheering, “We did it!”
Amanda Dito, our in-house Yoga Teacher, has been holding a weekly Special Yoga Class for the fall semester. This is an extra part of Amanda’s Teacher Aide duties.
GIANT STEPS THERAPEUTIC EQUESTRIAN CENTER
Giant Steps offers life-changing experiences to Cypress School students with a wide range of disabilities. Each week our students come to interact with their 1,000 pound “therapist” (and best friend) in a safe and secure environment and achieve goals never before dreamed possible. The program offers them the opportunity to focus not on their limitations, but on what they can do, and the results are extraordinary. Lessons are individually designed to suit each rider’s particular need, ability, stamina, and are consistent with predetermined goals that are established in conjunction teachers and therapists.
At Giant Steps Program Director Julie Larson, supports our youngest students. “Riding and caring for horses can be a powerful tool for healing individuals of all ages with physical, cognitive, emotional, and developmental challenges of all ages.”
RENAISSANCE HEALING & LEARNING CENTER (HIPPOTHERAPY)
Students from Cypress School are provided Hippotherapy (treatment with the help of the horse) through the Renaissance Healing & Learning Center. Hippotherapy provides children and adults with physical and emotional challenges a nurturing environment that promotes healing.
Director Fran Judd is a Physical Therapist with 20 years of experience has supported our most behaviorally challenged older students teaching them to ride and engage in brain strengthening exercises.
Occupational Therapy (‘OT’) is a Designated Instructional Service that is provided on an individual basis based on our students Individual Education Plan. Our Occupational Therapists utilize a traditional and modern approach to OT combining handwriting, keyboarding, work tools and utensil usage with Sensory Integration and Sensory Diets.
As many of our students have challenges with Sensory Impairments (over-sensitivity and under sensitivity to daily activities), the whole school is involved in supporting environmental and teaching method modifications. To assist our students we have an extra large OT room with a therapy swing, rock climbing wall and OT toys and adaptive equipment. In our second OT room, we have a Lycra squeeze swing, a carpeted barrel and more toys and adaptive activities. The OT’s help our students to be better learners by integrating their therapy programs into the classroom, community and home activities.
Speech & Language
Many individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have difficulty acquiring spoken language and/or augmentative and alternative communication systems, and all have needs in acquiring appropriate social use of communication. Children may have challenges with joint attention, shared enjoyment, social reciprocity in nonverbal as well as verbal interactions, mutually satisfying play and peer interaction, comprehension of others’ intentions, and emotional regulation. The role of the speech pathologist at school is to evaluate the communication skills of students, explore therapeutic interventions that are the most functional and efficient for individuals, and implement therapy that will maximize opportunities for communication.
At Cypress school, speech therapy is conducted in the classroom, in the community, and as a team with families, teachers, other therapists, and specialists. The goal is to make communication inviting, efficient, functional, and fun!
Photography here at Cypress School is a year round creative arts experience. Students are encouraged to participate and express themselves through this outlet at many different opportunities on campus, as well as in the community. The school has digital cameras, as well as a video recorder, that all the classrooms use to document their amazing learning experiences and special memories.
Video Modeling is being incorporated across the classrooms as a teaching technique which involves having a student watch themselves and/or a model perform a target skill on an edited video tape and then practice the skill that he or she observed.
Cypress School is using video modeling to teach a wide variety of skills including:
- Communication skills:
- Saying “hello” and “goodbye”
- Daily living skills:
- Hand washing
- Grocery shopping
- Writing his/her name
- Playing a ball game
- Social skills:
- Making comments during play
- Mental health skills to overcome phobias
We have had amazing success with this method and look forward to expanding these opportunities.