Cafe is a Special Achievement

Cafe Achieve Provides Special Needs Students Alternative Experiences


Whirlwind Staff Writers Support Cafe Achieve

Is there really a secret room behind Mt. Rushmore ? (C’mon…admit it…you wondered about that after watching National Treasure). Does the government REALLY have outer space creatures at Area 51 in the desert Southwest ? Has F.E.M.A. really built over 1000 shelters under the ground across the country in case of a nuclear emergency ? While it is not as big as all those mysteries, some of you at West G might have asked, “What happens in room 115 here at the high school ?”  THIS we can answer for you. Room 115 is the meeting center for West G’s section of Geauga Achieve.

Geauga Achieve is an educational program that serves students with multiple disabilities. There are requirements for the program, and this program is county – wide. There are 5 classrooms throughout Geauga County. The students range from kindergarten to seniors.

West Geauga has a designated facility for the high school students. There are nine students in the classroom throughout the day. Some students stay the full day, while others participate in vocational training at off – campus facilities. The main goal of the program is to provide all students, regardless of disability, an educational program in a supportive environment. The program is meant to empower students by providing support and an integrated educational environment. The program is full of some amazing kids. Everyone is hard working and interesting and that makes the world a better place. There are three main staff members who are present every day. Throughout the week, they also have other service providers who come to the classroom.

The three main teachers are Mrs. Swartzlander, Mrs. Rugg, and Mrs. Fade. The other staff include Miss Lucas (Speech / Language pathology), Miss Kurcsak (occupational therapy), Miss Clark (physical therapy), Mrs. Colombo (music therapy), and Mr. Drennen (adapted physical therapy).

Mrs. Swartzlander is an Intervention Specialist, who has been teaching for seven years. This is her first year at West Geauga. Outside of school, she is married and has two dogs and a cat. She enjoys doing crochet and reading outdoors. Mrs. Fade is a teacher’s aide who has been at West Geauga for 4 years and in education for 13 years. She is married (to a West G grad) with four kids and loves to read, also. Mrs. Rugg is the paraprofessional who has been at the school for a year but teaching for 14 years. She has a family full of West Geauga alumni. Her husband, Rick, and her three children Rebecca, Rachel, and Ricky West G graduates. Outside of school, one may find her reading, knitting, or watching a Cleveland sports game

Some of the activities that happen in the classroom include learning academics that are taught from a standards – based curriculum. One can also see the students on a field trip in the community to provide real life experiences and connect to the topics the students are learning about in class. The students are also involved in Café Achieve every morning. Mrs. Swartzlander said, “My favorite part of the day is during the afternoons and whole group lessons. I enjoy having all of the students together and watching all of the different personalities and strengths helping each other learn and grow.”