Looking Out for Special Education at Doherty High School


Photo Courtesy Sarah Ortiz

At the beginning of the year, the Special Ed Dept and chairperson Sarah Ortiz posed for a group photo after the welcome video.

ShaKira Karnick-Shivers, Tips and Advice Editor

Individuals with special needs are so special to our community. They are beautiful and amazing individuals that are part of Doherty’s community. We should all take the time to get educated on individuals with special needs. According to Doherty Special Education chair Sarah Ortiz, “I wish more people realized that, while people with learning differences sometimes need some unique supports, they also have much to contribute. They need to be challenged and pushed to excel and achieve just as much as their typical peers.”

Most Special Education departments have various types of individuals with various needs. The most common special need is individuals with mental disabilities, although Doherty high school does have some with physical disabilities. “We serve any student whose learning difference requires specialized instruction in order for them to access a free and appropriate public education,” Ortiz said.

Individuals will go through the normal school system, but some will be put into a transition program or an IEP that will help them learn how to transition from school life to real world experiences. Although most students go off to college after getting their high school diploma individuals with special needs, might need a little more time to get into the grasp of things. Some individuals with significant support needs will go onto day programs, which help with decision making, money management, consumer skills, relationship building, and communication skills.

The Special Education program at Doherty goes as follows, according to department chair Sarah Ortiz, “When students get to high school, the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) takes on a new role. Among other things, it is meant as a tool to help the students attain their goals after high school. This includes their independent living goals and their goals for future education/training and employment. All students at the high school level participate in this portion of Transition.”

Doherty is just one of the many public schools with a Special Education program, but hearing from the staff members, we Spartans can take pride in looking out for our own. When asked ‘What do you like about Doherty’s Special Ed Program?’ Special Education staff, Kim Mumma shares: “Working at the Doherty Special Education is like a glimpse into a perfect moment; a place where you get to be with some amazing people, students and staff alike.  We work really hard in our department. We will all drop everything to help each other.  Our department has some of the kindest people you’ll ever know, and it is an honor to work with them.”

Although COVID-19 has put some problems on their regular program like everyone else at Doherty, “COVID-19 has affected our team and our students in ways similar to how it has affected the rest of the school. The consistency of routine and safety is important. It is a challenge to maintain both under these circumstances,” according to Special Education Staff, Sarah Ortiz. We can continue to do our best and look out for our Special Education Program here at Doherty. Sarah Ortiz states her opinion on Doherty’s Special Education program, “What I love most about Doherty’s Special Education Program is the people. Doherty’s Special Education Program is made up of some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. This includes students, teachers, educational assistants, administrative staff and parents.”

It is important to remember that the Special Education Department is just as much a part of Doherty’s community as every other department is. Individuals should be treated with respect like everyone else but also cared for like all Spartans are. These individuals are amazing and beautiful people that we are so lucky to be part of our community.