THE ARC OF GREATER PLYMOUTH: Local teachers honored for work with challenged students

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PLYMOUTH – The Arc of Greater Plymouth has recognized five local educators with inspired teacher grants for their support of inclusive education.

This year’s recipients of the Spreading Inclusion grants are speech pathologist Meena Tondravi, physical education teacher Lauren Andersen, kindergarten teacher Megan Hokanson and special education teachers Barbara Gravelle and Christine Belmonte.

Since 2008, the Arc of Greater Plymouth has awarded six of the $500 grants each year.

Two teachers from Hanover schools will receive grants this year as well.

Tondravi and Gravelle will share one of the four local awards. They plan to use the grant in the Life Skills classes they teach at Plymouth North High School. The money will used to develop social thinking and language skills for challenged students in the program, by taking them into the community to meet with local shopkeepers.

Belmonte will similarly use her grant to promote inclusion in the community of the students in her Project Growth classroom, a post graduate program for challenged students ages 18 to 22.

Andersen, who also teaches at Plymouth North High School, will use her grant to promote inclusion in her gym class. The money will purchase an iPad and applications that will help challenged students record and track their own fitness efforts.

Hokanson, who teaches kindergarten at Manomet Elementary School, will also use the grant to purchase an iPad. She plans to use the equipment to level the field for challenged students in writing assignments by recording stories that others are able to write.

“Their stories are just as interesting as those of someone whose fingers are able to write,” Bobbi Martino, special projects coordinator for the Arc of Greater Plymouth, said.

Started in 1966, the Arc of Great Plymouth is a multi-service, non-profit, support agency for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities from school age to old age.

“Our mission is to provide individualized and flexible support for people, so they have choices in where they want to work and go to school and play and live. And the biggest part of our mission within those supports, the primary part, is to instill a sense of community for the people we support so they are able to give back to the community,” Martino said. “Our giving back to teachers thanks them for supporting the people we work with. These Plymouth kids are really lucky. We have some marvelous teachers working with them.”