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Mars Area School District

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District Receives Grant for Special Education Project

Mars Area High School has been selected to receive a Jack Buncher Foundation Bernita Buncher Educational Advancement Fund grant in the amount of $21,554 to establish an “Independent Living Skills Apartment: Life Skills at its Finest” special education program.

The grant funding will be used to convert a high school classroom into an “apartment,” complete with a mudroom, family room, office, living room, mock powder room, kitchen/dining room, and bedroom. Lowe’s Home Improvement will supply all materials, furniture and appliances; and, Pfeifer Hardware & Supply will provide painting and renovation supplies.

“The objective for the ‘Independent Living Skills Apartment: Life Skills at its Finest’ program is to instruct students on how to be successful individuals, either living on their own and/or in a group home,” says Samantha Flanhofer, special education teacher, who applied for the grant. “This gives the teachers ample opportunity to (provide) direct instruction in independent living skills.”

Having a mock apartment, will assist the students in developing knowledge on how to make a bed; prepare and serve meals; clean; schedule for time management; pay necessary bills; and to care for their belongings, says Flanhofer. The project will enable students with cognitive disabilities to improve their ability to live independently, which can be a major obstacle for these students.

The overall project, which will be completed prior to the start of the 2018-2019 School Year, will also include three additional components — a Rocket Fuel Café coffee shop, where students will serve Java Bean coffee to students and staff members; a Bank/Post Office, where students will learn to pay “mock” water, sewage, electricity, gas bills, and loans; and an Academic Room for direct reading and mathematics instruction.

In addition to the Jack Buncher Foundation, Flanhofer would like thank Embroidery & More, Eat’n Park Restaurants (Ellen Flanhofer), and Chet Ciancarelli, which provided work shirts/aprons, nametags, and Java Bean materials, respectively, for the coffee shop; Cheri Pistner, who donated bank materials and sample bills; and Melissa Hogue, who helped to plan and prepare for the grant. Flanhofer would also like to thank special education paraprofessionals Gloria Ferguson, Cheri Pistner, Andrea Salapow and Polly Novotny for their continued dedication to the project and to the students.

For more information, call (724) 625-1581.