Field Experience: Public vs. Private Resourcefulness.
Michelle R Miklinski
Liberty University
Bethany Lutheran School in Naperville, IL has opened its doors to students; preschool to 8th grade for
eighty years. Home to about 250 students each year, Bethany is dedicated to teaching academics and
instilling Christian values. Despite a lack of federal funding Bethany has proactively established early
intervention instruction that brings special education resources to their students. Bethany employs a parttime Speech Therapist along with a Special Education Interventionist whose services have been present at
the school for the last six years. The first half of the ten hour field experience took place at Bethany
Lutheran to compare the type of instruction, needs of the student, and resources available as they relate to
the public school system.
On day 1 of the field assignment a fourth grade female was first to receive intervention. Practice and
learning took place in a resource room, outside of class. The student is experiencing a delay in reading
skills and is being assessed using Jerry Johns, “Basic Reading Inventory” as its text. The text employs a
timed passage which assists the instructor with the assessment of the student’s rate and accuracy. The
student is also assessed on her comprehension and decoding skills. The following group was second
graders, male and female, who used the workbook, “Horizons: Learning to Read”. The students would
practice reading a story by filling in a blank space with an appropriate word. They also had to complete
words in a story that were only half completed, for instance, “Hap” would have to be replaced with
“Happy”, “can” to be replaced with “candle”, and so forth. One child had difficulty verbalizing the
correct word in a sentence. He frequently substituted words that were similar to but not the intended
word. Examples of this included: back for black, woke for walk, and so forth, it was as if he was
guessing or paying little attention to detail. The majority of students, except for one, did not have an IEP,
the teacher, Mrs. Holly Spooner, stated that they have switched over to RTI (Response to Intervention)
over the last two years.
RTI identifies students who are at risk for poor learning outcomes. It also monitors student progress,
provides evidence-based interventions, adjusts the intensity and nature of those interventions depending
on a student’s responsiveness, and identifies students with learning disabilities or other disabilities.
(National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities) Ms. Spooner stated that even though they
have some intervention resources in place, they do not have the ability to take children with severe
learning problems. When a family requests intervention for a special needs case, each child is assessed
and it is determined if their school would have the resources to benefit the child. If they feel the
intervention needed is greater than they can provide, they will recommend that the student pursue public
school assistance. Lastly, as stated, one child age 11 had an IEP; his session relied heavily on computer
instruction. He was typing a paper explaining what he did this past summer. I assisted him in looking up
a word in the dictionary and copied his work to a flash drive. Each child had an incentive to fill in an
attendance sheet after completing their work each day, once a sheet is completed, the child would be
offered a small prize of their choice.
I was interested in observing children with lower functioning skill so I spent the second portion of the
field experience with middle school students who were classified primarily as Autistic. Ms. Michelle
Savant, a first year teacher, invited me to spend the day at Fischer Middle School in Aurora, IL. The class
was self-contained and consisted of five students, three TA’s and a teacher.
District 204 in well known for their special education services. Many families transfer into the area
specifically for the districts educational resources. Each school is specialized in one form of intervention.
The schools include: Fischer Middle School whom instructs children with Autism, Scullen Middle School
specializes in emotional and behavioral intervention, and Still Middle School serves students with wheel
chairs, cerebral palsy, feeding tubes and the like. These are but a few of the schools who are providing
intervention for the district.
Although Ms. Savant was modest about her experience, the classroom seemed to run quite smoothly.
Upon arrival the students were engaged in desk work. Female 1 (S) was working with a computer
program which measured reading comprehension. (S) is in the sixth grade and has limited verbal skills.
She follows the screen with her finger, repeating the sentence three times, before picking an answer. Her
assistant prompts her to speak the answer and S. will reply with a one word response, “banana.” She is
very soft spoken and has limited speech. Female 2 (L), has speech capabilities but it is not easily
understood. She can read and is working on carrying out daily goals, such as: Saying “Hi” to another
student in the class, reciting her ABC’s, and giving a fellow student a “high five”. At one point she
became over stimulated and took it upon herself to count and sort buttons to calm herself down. Male 1
(M) likes to draw and sing; he is quiet most of the time with short outbursts of song and hand flapping.
The hand flapping is so unique; he is able to make a slapping noise like that of a toy clacker. Male 2
(MX) is described as, “a runner”; I suspect that he has ADHD along with his autism. The TA who is
paired with him must strap him with a brace and backpack that has a tether for the TA to hold on to.
During desk time he is confined to a cubicle to prevent over stimulation. Male 3 (F) is highly sensitive to
sound; therefore he wears headphones to drown out the noise. He becomes over stimulated by his five
senses, so much so, that textures, tastes, and touch are overwhelming for him. The students participate in
a cooking class where they have been taking turns with different aspects of the preparation. In the month
of September, they have been learning how to make a fruit smoothie. The day before the cooking class,
the students were taken to a local grocery store to collect the ingredients, part of their functional skill
building. On this day, the students will take turns naming the ingredient they are responsible for and
adding it to the mixture. The children were then able to drink their concoction and helped in cleaning up
the table.
Physical education was the next class in which the students participated. They were given a half an
hour to run, walk, ride stationary bikes, walk on a treadmill, and play with hoola hoops. Each TA (and I)
had to guard a door to ensure no one would wonder off; one of the boys who tend to run off ran for my
door, but when I stood up he turned and ran the other way, laughing, like he was playing a joke on me.
Lunch time was after gym class and the students sat at their desks to eat. One girl, (L) who is working on
social skills was able to go to the cafeteria and eat with the general education students. After lunch she
came back to the room highly stimulated, so she took a time-out in the sensory room to calm down. The
sensory room was dark and peaceful, filled with blankets to snuggle in, a chair to rock in, and soothing
lights to help her relax.
The classroom is highly structured with job charts and a rotating schedule. Pictures adorn the
student’s desk reminding them of certain rules they have been given to follow. Sessions are broken up
into fifteen minute intervals, I believe this is so the children do not get bored or over stimulated, it keeps
class management with the students to a minimum. I enjoyed my field experience, especially working
with the autistic children. Each child is so unique and personalities so different, I can see why autism is
considered a “spectrum disorder”. I see them as gentle souls who may or may not have a care in the
world, but I feel they hold a special place in it, educating all of us and making us better for it.
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. (2010, December). Response To
Intervention (RTI). Retrieved from