(Ashland, Ore.) —For more than two decades, students in Southern Oregon University’s Master in Education program seeking a special education endorsement have put on a Valentine’s Day dance for adults with special needs in the Rogue Valley, and that tradition is set to continue this weekend.
“This is a really big deal for the attendees,” according to Heather Richard, student coordinator of this year’s event. “And it’s a great opportunity for those of us in the program to connect with the community and see what the lives of the individuals we’ll be working with will be like once they progress past school age.”
The event is sponsored by the University, the Inter Club Council at SOU, and community partners. “We wouldn’t be able to put this on without a lot of support from the community,” Richard said.
Master in Education students who earn a special education endorsement will spend their careers working with special needs students from kindergarten to adulthood, and part of the curriculum includes organizing events such as the Valentine’s Day dance in order to integrate students with the community, according to Professor April Harrison. “We really want our students to become part of the community in a larger scope,” she said. “It’s integral to the learning process that our students have outcomes in mind for the students with special needs they will be working with.”
In addition to the dance, students in the special education endorsement cohort also work closely with the Special Olympics and Down Syndrome Association to plan events. “These students are out in the community. It’s an important aspect of the curriculum,” Harrison said. According to Harrison, all of the students in the cohort participate in event planning.
This year’s dance will take place from 7-9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14, in the Diversions Nightclub inside SOU’s Stevenson Student Union. It is free and open to anyone with special needs over the age of 21. For more information, contact April Harrison at 541-552-7019.
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power, and it is the first university in the nation to balance 100% of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.