According to Circle of Friends official website, "Circle of Friends (CoF) is a school inclusion program that builds genuine friendships between students with special needs and their general education peers. Students with developmental and physical disabilities (e.g., autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc.) will often eat lunch alone, isolated and ignored by general education classmates. When not alone, they are typically interacting only with other youth with special needs…unsure of how to connect with the mainstream and lacking strong peer role models. CoF increases the understanding, acceptance and appreciation of individual differences while decreasing bullying. At all grade levels, our program facilitates the creation of a and welcoming school environment, one that embraces diversity. Through inclusive, meaningful participation on school campuses and within communities, CoF enables students with disabilities to observe, acquire, practice and improve conversation and social skills, as well as problem-solving strategies, in the real-world environment. Self-esteem, capability and confidence, and joy through companionship are boosted, often leading to a more successful adult life."
We have found that at Mountainview, our students are far more welcoming and inclusive than many, however, Circle of Friends has been a program that we could tailor to our elementary school age level to create a more widespread understanding and appreciation of others. No two children are the same. All students want to have friends at school. All parents want their child to be safe, learn and to have friends. Circle of Friends has helped us build that for all children.
Peer mentors and students with disabilities work together in social and academic settings to implement a comprehensive inclusion program for special education students. Special Education Teachers work closely with general education students to help them understand and develop their roles as a peer mentor. The teachers also facilitate within the classroom environment as students work collaboratively. During peer mentor times, general education students demonstrate enthusiasm to help students with disabilities learn, simple academic concepts, social norms and help them to be included in social arenas. Due to the rigorous training, disability awareness, role playing, strategy development and ongoing accountability, peer mentors gain the ability to fully understand how to appropriately work alongside students with disabilities in the school setting.
We have a student run valet program in our back parking lot. Students are trained by the sheriff's department and overseen by parent volunteers every morning from 7:45- 8:10. Students open car doors and welcome students with a smile and a "Good morning!". It is a great way for everyone to start the day!
Not all students want to play physical games at school. With our student run game table, everyone ahs somewhere to play at lunch. 4th-6th grade students bring the games out at the beginning of each lunch period. Any student can come to the game table to play any of the available games.
Student service is the Mountainview version of Student Council. What makes this a unique program is that it stays away from traditional individual roles such as President, Vice President, etc. instead, the focus is on students working together in groups to support campus and community needs. Their motto is "See a need, fill a need". Over the years, student service has run monthly school-wide assemblies and school-wide events such as a pumpkin decorating contest. It has also held food drives for the SCV Food Pantry, toy drives for the sheriffs department, blanket/coat drives for the homeless and needy, and has collected goods for an animal shelter. Students learn how to look for needs and problem solve ways to alleviate them.