Screenshot of students in a virtual setting

Campus News  |  Quick Read

Mastering the Art of Special Education

During a Pandemic

by Lisa Ambrose  |  Winter 2021

Pivoting to remote operations this fall did not stop the Master of Arts in Special Education program from developing innovative ways to engage students and connect with the surrounding community. Not one to maintain the status quo, Julie Norflus-Good, associate professor of Teacher Education and director of MASE, created a series of dynamic virtual events that exemplify what happens when creativity and education connect. MASE students partnered with 16-21 year-old community members with exceptionalities to play various computer games such as Eye Spy, Charades, and Treasure Hunt. 

A hallmark of Ramapo College is the commitment to community collaborations, like the relationship with The Forum School in Waldwick, a New Jersey state-approved private, non-profit school serving children with autism and related learning, language, behavioral, and social challenges. Not being able to visit the school as usual necessitated outside-the-box thinking. Norflus-Good partnered undergraduate and graduate students, empowering them to develop and teach virtual lessons for the high school students. Aaron Lorenz, dean of the School of Social Science and Human Services, collaborated with students in the MASE 4+1 Dual Certification program to create 30-minute social skills lessons for the elementary school students 

Right half of the screen is a screen shot of the class and left half is a letter written by the students

The students at the Forum School got to practice their writing skills as they exchanged letters with Ramapo students about “Elf on a Shelf.”

Screen shot of students in virtual setting

The students in Dr. Norflus-Good’s class participated in a “virtual” literacy clinic.

Questionnaire about historical events

One of the exercises the Ramapo students developed for the students at The Forum School was a survey of events in history.

The reach of Ramapo College spans beyond the local community and demonstrates that small, tight-knit programs such as MASE can have a big impact. In August, MASE students and alumni created and presented a series of technology webinars for the New Jersey Council for Exceptional Children. The series provided teachers across the state with best practices to prepare for the upcoming school year, a year in which support from experts such as Ramapo College teacher education students and graduates was needed and welcomed more than ever.