Class teaches students special skills

March 4, 2008 3:40:25 PM PST
Every school teaches the usual reading, writing, and mathematics. One Philadelphia high school adds in extra skills for some special students. Skills that could just help them be more productive adults.

"You don't need my help anymore. You're doing a great job on your own," said one teacher to a student.

At the Simon Gratz High School in Nicetown-Tioga, the students are creating candy displays and something they call "whut up dog." The candy figures and one-of-a-kind yarn puppies look complicated, but their goals are simple.

"Just keep on making them so people will like them," said student Myriah Berry.

They take their job seriously. They're gaining self-esteem and learning the life skills they need to someday hold jobs. Teachers hope to open a boutique to sell these crafts. Hunter Dent says he's learned a lot already.

"A whole lot. How to be good and reading and stuff," said Hunter.

Teacher Sherrey Weiner says many of the teens have problems at home and come to school hungry or angry. They found an unlikely way to reach them. Making these crafts has given them a purpose.

"They love it. It's a great form of therapy. It quiets them down and they're productive," said Weiner.

The students come to school with their share of challenges, but the teachers tell me when they get here, they are happy to see other and work together to support each other.

"We have some kids who can't use their arms, yet strive to do their work. They work hard, have a lot of patience and kindness. They love each other, what they do and they love us, and that's the beauty of it all," said Theresa Twine, a life skills teacher.