Community Resources in the Special Education Classroom

by Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed. MLIS

Pennies on the Dollar - bill with pennies on white background.

I’ve talked often about costs for services to our special needs children. We can all agree that it is an investment in our future. In one lifetime, I have witnessed special kids who were once warehoused in government facilities, but are now assimilated into the general school community. Everyone benefits from this arrangement, even “regular” kids who learn tolerance and respect for others in the process.

Teaching can be isolating. We are in our classrooms all day, with huge responsibilities and very little help along the way (or so it can seem).

To banish this feeling of isolation we can tap in to community agencies. These rich resources are government and private organizations devoted to bringing the disabled citizen into active participation in community activities. There is nothing that says you can’t reach out for help running the day-to-day management of your classroom.

Be sure to bring your principal into the decision making process, but why not call the ARC in your city to see if there are volunteers who might be willing to come in and assist students in your class. The Salvation Army runs wonderful summer and after school programs for low-income children. has a clearinghouse of information for community resources for many disabling conditions. Did you know there’s a National Center for Accessible Instructional Materials? They can guide you and help you select appropriate planning tools and materials for your classroom situation.

The list goes on and on, but a place to start in your town might be the Chamber of Commerce. They have directories of agencies and organizations in your location. Another one-stop shop for directories of agencies that can help teachers with their disabled students is the United Way.

Assistance can take many forms, your local school of education or social work in a college or university can supply volunteers, teacher aides, and student teachers (who can’t use another set of hands?). Agencies might help to find computers for your students, or basic school supplies that are always hard to find. The assistance is only limited by your imagination and willingness to ask for help. Isn’t that what grant writing is after all, a willingness to ask for help?

I find that whenever I have that isolated feeling, it’s time to start eating lunch in the “teacher’s room” again. I usually avoid these repositories of gossip and useless chatter, but an occasional visit can renew alliances. It’s also a reminder that you are part of a community. It’s tempting to be sucked in to the drama of the moment in these rooms, but if you keep it occasional, you can learn about new resources that may be available to you.

When isolated, you may find that a refresher course or professional development class can be just the ticket to rebuilding a feeling of community in your school. Some resources for professional development for SPED teachers:

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASPET)

Education Week


Professional Development Institute

Knowledge Delivery Systems

Add to our list, help guide this blog, and tell me about your challenges. I may feature your class or school in upcoming blog entries.

Grant Name: USGA Alliance Grants

Funded By: National Alliance for Accessible Golf

Description: Grants support organizations which provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to learn and enjoy the game of golf and its inherent values. The Alliance and the USGA share the belief that the game of golf is exceptionally well-suited to allow individuals with disabilities to participate in a recreational or competitive activity with participants who have various types of disabilities as well as those who do not have disabilities. We encourage inclusive programming – opportunities that allow participants with disabilities and participants without disabilities to learn and play the game side by side.

Program Areas:   Disabilities, Health/PE

Eligibility: Public School, Other

Proposal Deadline: Ongoing

Average Amount: $1,000.00 – $20,000.00

Address: 1733 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Telephone: 812-320-1126



Availability: All States

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