It started as a plan to bring real life scenarios to the Academic Vocational Life Skills classroom at Lakeview Middle School. By the time the end-of-year evaluation was written, Jennifer Shaw was in tears. Shaw is the AVLS teacher at Lakeview. “It was my goal to begin teaching the children skills now that they will be able to successfully use in their semi-independent, post-graduate life,” Shaw said. “When I dreamed of how this grant would benefit the children, I never imagined it would impact the school as a whole the way it has.”
Thanks to a generous grant from LEF, made possible by your continued support, Shaw’s proposal, Living Large With Leopard Pride, became a reality. Shaw was able to create Leopard Mart, a place where her AVLS students could organize things for sale and learn basic skills like sorting, counting money, social interaction skills, following directions, accepting criticism, working with others and reading. The program gave her AVLS class a small town charm. Each week her students rotate and hold various jobs in each location of the town. They do jobs such as grocery clerk, janitorial staff, waitress, cook, post office employee, or banker. Community members and school staff regularly visit and act as customers in the town.
Shaw’s students take orders for coffee and treats that they prepare, then they deliver the goodies around the school. The students also run another business, Hydration Station, during study hall. The students are able to interact with the staff and students of LVMS. “It brings absolute joy to everyone who interacts with our students,” Shaw said.
“Living large with leopard pride will absolutely continue in the future,” Shaw said. “The amount of progress the students made has been astonishing.
“Another measure of the project’s success is the number of LISD administrators that have sent their teachers over to observe our program in action,” Shaw continued. “The ideas that have been implemented at Lakeview have begun to be implemented across the district in various life skills programs. I cannot thank LEF enough for choosing ‘Living Large with Leopard Pride’ as one of the recipients of an LEF grant. The children, parents, and community have all benefited from the grant.”
As part of the evaluation process Shaw sent a survey to the parents, community and staff. Across the board, respondents declared the program a success, with the vast majority saying it was more successful than they ever imagined. In LISD and at LEF, we imagine a lot of great things for our students – your continued support enables programs and students to exceed our imaginings. Thank you.