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Life Skills Class Helps Special Students Navigate Real-World Experiences

"For me, the best part is giving them a purpose at school and being able to practice what we learn in class in the real world," - Special Education Teacher Sarah DeMoulpied

Ms. DeMoulpied was more excited than usual to see her students this fall. After a summer apart and months of virtual learning, she missed the group that she calls a family.

“Returning to school was like a family reunion. My students were so excited to see each other,” she said. “Virtual learning…it was a very helpless feeling. Everyone was trying to navigate Google Classroom but it was a lot."

Ms. DeMoulpied teaches Life Skills, a class customized for Kingsley’s most unique learners. Her group has six students, and she sees them for the first three hours before they go to electives.

She started the class four years ago when she noticed some students struggling in their Gen Ed classes.

“I saw some of these kids sitting in their math class, and they couldn’t do it. To me, it was like, wow, they could be doing so much more. So I told the principal, ‘you know, I’d really like to start a life skills class,’” said Ms. DeMoulpied.

In October's cooking lesson, students learned how to make a "Monster Milkshake" with green food coloring. crushed oreos, and eyeball sprinkles.

“We did that and now these students get instruction at their level, they can actually master skills, and then they can go out and be included in their other classes. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Every week, she helps her group navigate new experiences, like grocery shopping, cooking, going to a bank, or tending a garden.

Her class also runs a business called the Kingsley Coffee Crew. Each student has a job: barista, manager, delivery, and more. Every Friday, they make and deliver coffee to staff members. Their earnings fund all their field trips.

In October, her crew spent their earnings on a long-awaited treat: going to a restaurant together for the first time since the pandemic.

“Their job was knowing what they were going to order, making eye contact with the waitress, speaking clearly, and using good manners,” said Ms. DeMoulpied.

At the table, Ms. DeMoulpied talks to her students about what kinds of foods they like to eat, and encourages them to try new ones. At their breakfast, one of her students tried bacon for the first time. It's these little moments of growth that make her so excited.

"It's always good to try new things! We all celebrate our breakthroughs because we're all so close. We know each other's quirks and what each of us is working on," she said.

Other adventures planned for the school year include going to the movies, raising butterflies, and sponsoring a family-in-need this holiday season.

“My goal is to foster independence. I want them to be able to navigate in the community and have a purpose in life,” said Ms. DeMoulpied.
Brody, 12, loves vacuuming. He has four vacuums at home and insists that Shark is the best brand.

“Each and every one of them is unique. They each have their own strength. I try to find that strength and really hone in on that so that someday, whatever they decide to do, they can use that strength.”


To learn more about Life Skills, email Ms. DeMoulpied at

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