Tyler (11), Charlie (9), Drake (9), and Daniel (11) work together as a class on a holiday crossword worksheet. (Leea Port)
Tyler (11), Charlie (9), Drake (9), and Daniel (11) work together as a class on a holiday crossword worksheet.

Leea Port

Special Needs Students Strive to Meet Individual Goals

January 27, 2022

The Special Needs classrooms that run along a hallway on the first floor are filled with a group of students who rotate between a few classrooms – a school within a school.

Special Needs teacher Mrs. Brauner said she tells her students, “With your willingness to do, and your work ethic, we can overcome things.”

A student who has done just that is sophomore Richie, who was very shy and introverted entering high school.

“He was so quiet when he first came to us… he wouldn’t talk,” Mrs. Brauner said. 

With the encouragement from his teachers and classmates to try new things and explain how he felt, he became more comfortable in the environment.

 “When you look at him now, he has just blossomed like a flower,” she said. “His personality is coming out, he’s more comfortable, and he’s doing things independently. It just gives you goosebumps.” 

Richie (11) and Mahometh (10) build with Legos to improve fine motor skills.


Socastee High’s Special Needs curriculum includes academics, social and personal development, as well as work-based learning. Each Special Needs student’s progress is measured by where they fall on a certain spectrum. Therefore, the level of work is based on the student’s specific learning needs rather than traditional educational standards.

“We use the unique learning system, and the lessons are presented in grade bands that are embedded into that system,” Mrs. Brauner said. “Within that curriculum, we have our own assessments that are built in.” 

The students rotate between two classes throughout the day. Mrs. Brauner teaches ELA and math, and Mrs. Jennifer Ainsworth has a singular math class, as well as all of the life skills and daily living work skills.

“We try to sprinkle in some experiments also with their curriculum,” Mrs. Brauner said. “The kids love learning ‘hands on’.”

Science experiments include dropping a Mento in a Coca-cola bottle to simulate a geyser, the building and launching of bottle rockets built with JROTC, and planting the school’s flower garden. 

Hands-on activities include coloring, building with Legos, reading News2you current event articles, and learning recipes to use when baking as a class.

Nasir (11) reads to his classmates Brayden (10), Richie (10), Mahometh (10), during their time to focus on communication.

Students also learn skills that will help them transition from school into the workplace. It is common for Special Needs students to work at local agencies, restaurants, groceries stores, and thrift stores once they graduate. 

“We’re learning how it is in the real world and how to communicate,” said Junior Nathinn, who is a very social student but struggles with emotional issues and can be easily overwhelmed.

Nathinn hopes to become a firefighter one day.

“We’re even learning how to fill out a job application, and that’s a big benefit for me.”

Mrs. Brauner said she sees students that she has taught in the past working at all types of places around the area. 

“I have students that I had when I first started teaching that I see in the community and they are working and productive members of society,” she said. 

Aspiring movie director sophomore Brenna, who struggles with change, hopes for a future making animated films with her artistically gifted big sister, who is currently in college. 

“They’re teaching me to try to be patient when people don’t understand, and with all of my ideas that I want to show people – but that’s not very easy yet,” Brenna said. “Sometimes it is just so busy that I can’t show everyone everything that I want to.”

Nathinn (11) shares an article that he finds interesting with Brenna (10).

Another issue a lot of Special Needs students have to deal with is self esteem, Mrs. Brauner said.

“I’ve had kids that will come to me and say that they’re stupid,” she said. “And I’ll them, ‘You’re not stupid, your brain just works differently.’”

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