Art/Special Education Internship program: How it’s helping our students

For the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, the South Colonie Communications department is shedding light on different programs through the lens of CCHS senior Ms. Deeg.  Read below to learn more about the Art/Special Education Internship program at Colonie Central High School and the impact it is making on CCHS students. 

Colonie Central High School students work together in the art/special education program at the high school on Tuesday, May 4.

For over 20 years the Art/Special Education Internship program has been offered at Colonie Central High School.  This program is designed to help our life skills students build relationships and work independently through the beauty of art.  Interns who participate in this program work with our life skills students to help them work as independently as possible.  This is done through different projects within the program including jewelry making, painting, sewing, card making, and much more.  This program was founded by Thomasa Nielsen, the Art Coordinator at CCHS.  This class is not only fulfilling to our life skills students, but to the interns who take part in it as well.     

teacher works with student in classroom
“The most important thing we can do in life is care about other people,” said Art Coordinator at Colonie Central High School Thomasa Nielson. Neilsen works with a CCHS student in the art/special education program at the high school on Tuesday, May 4.

“For my life skills students, it enables them to be more successful, and in the process of becoming more successful, they make friends,” said Thomasa Nielsen, the Art Coordinator and founder of the Art/Special Education program.  “We saw benefits for everybody when creating this program.  We saw students interacting with each other, our life skills students learning how to build relationships while also gaining support from their peers. “

This program is currently being offered to students in grades 10-12 with either Ms. Nielsen’s approval, or a referral from another adult stating that one the student can handle working independently and/or wants to work with other students.  This class is offered as a half-year or full-year class. 

“The students who participate in the program as interns feel really good about themselves because they are making a difference. When you can see yourself making a difference in someone’s life, that’s really big.  Which is what was happening through this program,” Neilson said. “We also started to see a type of inclusion that didn’t exist in the school before, she added.“ 

By creating opportunities for students through art and ways for student connection, the district is able to implement effective programs centered on the successful transition for today’s students. Since the inception of the program, the South Colonie district has continued to invest resources and development efforts into building a program that creates an immediate impact but also plans for curriculum development for future students.