by Joseph Levy of Theresa Paplin School, SCO Family of Services
The most challenging times can offer unprecedented opportunities. And this was how the story of The Dream Factory begins. The Theresa Paplin School is a non-diploma bound, New York State-certified special education school that serves adolescents and young adults who are dually diagnosed with serious emotional disturbance, as well as a developmental disability. Students reside at the Ottilie Residential Treatment Facility, or attend as day students. The Theresa Paplin School teaches functional, academic, and vocational skills based on each student's individual abilities.
When Covid-19 closed all the schools, some of our students had to remain in the building, and technology was the “call to action” that helped them cope with the fears and insecurities that we all lived through during that time. Students were introduced to 3-D printing, immersed themselves in the process and soon after designed and created the T-Shirts with the logo “United We Stand 6 Feet Apart”. The T-shirts illustrated in the image to the left, were an immediate success among the entire SCO Community, and in fact launched today’s Dream Factory.
Under the leadership of former principal Shante Spivey and the creative support of Ms. Loretta Speller, we were awarded a grant that allowed us to develop the initial idea into a full-fledged production program. Today, the Dream Factory operates as an extension of the Technology/Vocation class at the Theresa Paplin School.
The goal of this vocational program is teaching students transferable life skills. Students learn technology and vocational skills in the classroom, which are used to gain work experience in the Dream Factory. The work experience along with the hours students work are used in obtaining their Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credentials. Students work in collaborative teams to provide graphic services to various programs within the SCO Family of Services as well as community partners. These services include wide format printing of posters and banners, graphic design and screen printing, heat transfer printing, laminating service, book and brochure creation, laser engraving of traditional awards and custom glass. In addition to designing and creating products, students are responsible for quality control, packaging, and the distribution of products.
The Fordham PDRC is partnering with the school through its professional development. The Theresa Paplin School is the host site of the year-long in-person professional development series “Integrating STEM, Literacy and Social-Emotional Development”. Participants have engaged in three professional development sessions thus far. These sessions focused on Project-Based Learning (PBL) and the Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM) facilitated by the Fordham PDRC team, and Mindfulness Practices and Student Self-Actualization & Personal Expression through Music and Technology facilitated by Reginald Bennett and Dr. Carol Kennedy of Kennedy Bennett Solutions, LLC. The final session for this year brings all of it together in a full-day workshop facilitated by Jaclyn Sarnesse of Elevated Classrooms. Jaclyn talks about STEM and SEL as the yin and yan of teaching. The session will offer hands-on strategies, and technology experiences that support meaningful planning and the development of engaging tasks for all students.
You are encouraged to register for this upcoming session on Friday, May 5th, 2023.
In as little as four years, The Dream Factory has been incorporated into Theresa Paplin’s Work-Study and Summer Youth Employment Programs and has received numerous awards and commissions. In 2021, The National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, a sorority Annual Scholarship for educators, commissioned Theresa Paplin School's Dream Factory to create the awards they gave out to essential workers, Sorority of the Year, and scholarship recipients at their Annual Luncheon.
Please visit the Theresa Paplin School Dream Factory website to learn more about the services provided by the Dream Factory.