Eagle L.I.F.E teaches students with disabilities important life lessons


Story by Jack Meltsner, Co-Editor-in-chief

A bed, washer, dryer and a kitchenette make East Meck’s Learning for Independent Future Experiences (LIFE) room an unorthodox environment designed to aid Exceptional Children students in their learning.

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, East’s Exceptional Children (EC) department unveiled the newly designed simulated living apartment on the 200 hall. Situated in the same room which culinary used to use to cook, it is now home to special needs students who are a part of East’s EC program. With the help of occupational therapists who teach at East, the students spend time in this room practicing life skills that will be useful for the students beyond High School. 

“The main goal of this initiative is to provide life skills that allow them [EC students] to function independently and interdependently within the school and the community,” EC teacher David Cioch said.

Within the simulated living apartment, students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two years old are taught essential life skills that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. The students are afforded the opportunity to cook meals for themselves, do their own laundry and practice making a bed. With supervision, the students are gaining valuable skills through experience, the world’s greatest teacher.

This development could not have been possible without the help of East’s donors who met with the EC department a couple of months ago and discussed the needs of the simulated living apartment. At the top of the list was the installment of a washer and dryer. Not only did the EC department not have the funds necessary for a washer and dryer, but they also did not have a water pit that would make the washer and dryer functionable.

“I joined the East Meck Foundation board 5 or 6 years ago. We raise funds to help and reward teacher education and supplies for the kids…to help make East Mecklenburg continue to be a great school.” East Meck donor Randy Player said.

Not only do teachers, administrators, donors, and district officials foresee the positive impact this development will have on the school and students. The students themselves understand the lasting impact that this program will have on them.

“This will help us get jobs one day… we’re learning to be independent in the world and make our own meals.” EC student Nathan Woolard said.