A 20-year tradition in the department of education at Hope is a winning event for everyone involved.
For two decades, students in the department's
"Exceptional Child" classes have spent a day each semester
hosting special needs students from the Ottawa Area Center,
which is a day school near Allendale attended by students
from Allegan and Ottawa counties. The event continued on
Thursday, March 30, with a visit by 41 students from the
The students range from preschool age through age
25. They spent the day with Hope students who are enrolled
in five sections of the "Exceptional Child" class, and
engaged in activities ranging from working at the college's
computers, to a talent show, to a treasure hunt, in addition
to sharing lunch on campus.
The day is a good experience for the center's
students, according to Susan Cherup, professor of education.
It is an opportunity for them to be mainstreamed into a
college setting and interact with students pursuing careers
The Hope education students, on the other hand,
get both the chance to bring some happiness to a young
student and have an opportunity to learn more about some of
the impairments that they have studied in class.
For some of the Hope students, the day provides
their first experience with a special needs student. "It's
a package of learning about it in class, experiencing it
during the on-campus visit and talking about it afterwards
that helps it all come together," Cherup said.