PHOTO ESSAY Faculty, students create social story about 8th grade transition

Brandi Schott and Brianna Curry

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The Special School District department at Pattonville is creating a PowerPoint social story about 8th grade transition to high school.

Speech-Language Pathologists Ms. Brooke Krueger, MS, CCC-SLP and Ms. Victoria Carlson-Casaregola, MA, CCC-SLP have written a “social story” about PHS and its facilities, resources, and basic operations. 

“A social story is a simplified, focused and structured narrative with real-life examples of concepts and ways of doing things, intended for students with disabilities (and possibly others) to use in understanding how a situation works in real life,” Carlson-Casaregola said.

They enlisted freshman Paul Davey IV to do the drawings and students in Photojournalism to help create the images to go along with the presentation.

“Everybody who transitions to high school needs a coping strategy and this talented student drew his way through all the challenges of acclimating to high school,” Carlson-Casaregola said. “Now he is sharing those experiences with new 9th graders.”

Davey, a talented artist who receives accommodations at the high school, worked with art teacher Ms. Marcia Mueller to create a cartoon character called Joe PHS which has been a part of his own social communication therapy.

“Marcia Mueller showed me some great things she’s suggested that Paul do with the emotional and cultural variations of the Joe PHS character to fit different contexts,” Carlson-Casaregola said. 

The students in Photojournalism superimposed Joe PHS’s image on several photos from around the school.

“In our case, the narrative of Joe PHS is his orientation to the high school: getting to know the various parts of the school, understanding that there are resources such as the counseling office, nurses’ office, and library for gaining support with personal and learning needs; learning to feel comfortable with and aware of PHS norms,” Carlson-Casaregola said. “We will be using the photographs and the Joe PHS image to compile a PowerPoint that will be used in the 8th grade transition process.”

They intend to use this project with students who receive SSD services and the school as a whole.

“We plan to share this with the entire school community and even with the teachers and students that are a part of EL,” Carlson-Casaregola said. “Everyone feels like Joe PHS at first when they come into this big brand-new place called high school.”