Fine arts coming to APS special education hubs - Albuquerque Journal

Fine arts coming to APS special education hubs

Pre-K teacher Jessica Bohnhoff, right, works at APS' Aztec Special Education Support Complex. APS is aiming to get more teachers like Bohnhoff through the new Special Education Teacher Training program. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)
Pre-K teacher Jessica Bohnhoff, right, works at APS’ Aztec Special Education Complex. Art and music will be offered to students there year-round starting next year. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Grab the paint brushes and start practicing scales and arpeggios.

Students at special education hubs in Albuquerque Public Schools will soon be offered art and music year-round.

Interim Associate Superintendent of Special Education Stephanie Fascitelli told the Journal that students – who are anywhere from prekindergarten age to 22 years old – at the Aztec Special Education and Highland Complexes will get lessons in the arts starting next school year, which they didn’t have before.

While educators incorporated music and art into their teaching previously, students at these two locations will be getting designated lessons moving forward.

“This is really exciting,” Fascitelli said.

An estimated 65 additional students will get arts education through the new push, thanks to an expansion of art and music programs in the district, according to Fascitelli.

“(Other) students in special education are already included in art and music at their school site, but at the complexes we had to wait for that expansion to occur so they would have the personnel,” Fascitelli said.

The art and music lessons are set to kick off at the complexes in August.

“Everybody in those two sites will have art and music one day a week or something like how students have PE once a week,” Fascitelli said.

The teachers who will be assigned to the complexes have had special training to teach fine arts to special education students, she added.

The classes will be tailored to the students’ educational goals, abilities and age.

“I think it will be very different from what they do at the schools,” Fascitelli said.

The complexes provide education and resources for the most significantly challenged students in APS and Fascitelli is hopeful the art and music classes will help with stress, self-expression and aid in other learning.

For instance, some students are nonverbal and art may be a way to help them communicate.

Plus, it could ignite new passions for the students.

“We wanted to make sure to try to level the playing field, so to speak, that all of the students at the complexes were awarded the same benefits of fine arts instruction as everyone else,” Fascitelli said.

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