Empathy, compassion, and love. These three values are at the heart of Erie Elementary’s Cub Club, an addition to the special education programming at Erie Elementary. The program consists of six students ranging in age from Kindergarten through second grade.
The goal of Cub Club is to integrate participating students into general education classes. The students, staff, parents, and fifth grade volunteers work hard to give the students an understanding of work cycles and systems as they learn to access their new classroom environment. Erie Elementary’s principal, Lauren Eker, acknowledges how hard her staff of paraprofessionals and teachers have worked to bring the program together. “Our loving, empathetic staff has become even more so. Erie Elementary is the perfect place for the program.”
Erie Elementary’s staff prepares students for their new classrooms by showing them videos with sounds of general education classrooms. Staff also provides training and guidance for students to help ease their transition, with the goal of completely removing paraprofessional support. “The fifth graders have become big advocates for them and show compassion and empathy,” says Larrissa Mangione, a special education teacher at Erie Elementary. The students and fifth grade volunteers enjoy their interactions, and the whole school promotes affection and connection. “Every human being wants to know they are safe and loved, and then they start to feel comfort in their environment,” says Mangione.