SOAAR is a program that has been a part of NCA for a while, but a lot of people don’t know what it is about or have questions related to the program. I talked with Mr. Ippel to answer some questions that people may have and learn more about this program.
What is the SOAAR program? What does SOAAR stand for?
SOAAR is a program that offers extra support for those who need it. This support can be academic, social, emotional, or behavioral. The program includes students all the from preschool to high school. SOAAR stands for Students Of All Abilities Recognized. This means it ideally supports students who are in need of it and also, hopefully in the future, supports students who are gifted and need to be challenged.
How and why was SOAAR created?
In the US I was a special education teacher, but when I first came to NCAI they didn’t have that job. I worked as a preschool teacher and helped students who needed support during the afternoon. In the second year I was here there was a student with autism and the school said that they were not equipped for it, because of this I wrote a proposal to start a special education program and that’s how SOAAR started.
How does SOAAR work?
The process starts with a family, a teacher or a student recognizing a need. After this we observe and see what to do about this need, it may be recommended that a student completes testing (academic, behavioral, or psychological) to have more information and that way we can be able to support the student better. Sometimes a student already has a diagnosis or knows what support they need. Then we start to create a plan, called an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or an AP (Accommodation Plan) that can look very different depending on the student’s needs.
What is your job in the SOAAR program?
As a coordinator I spend most of my time working with students. I work with students who need extra support and come to me one on one. I also supervise shadow teachers and lead the Circle of Friends in elementary. Sometimes I also have meetings with parents and with teachers.
What do you hope SOAAR can accomplish?
I hope that the way we support students and inclusion can impact both the students we serve and the rest of the students at NCA. I hope that students can learn how to be inclusive from their experiences at NCA.
How do you hope SOAAR will look in the future?
I hope we can continue to respond to the needs of students. I also want to do a better job at sharing our vision model to other schools and collaborating with them
Anything you would like to add?
SOAAR is a team effort and many people at NCA help and work together in the program. If anyone has any more questions feel free to contact me.