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Overview

Erie 1 BOCES Special Education provides programs which are designed for students with disabilities whose instructional needs cannot be appropriately served by their local school district.  Special education classes, for students ages 5-21, are hosted within our component school districts. 

 A team effort by related services itinerant professionals supports the classroom teacher in meeting the demands of the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.  The following itinerant services are provided, based on the student’s IEP:  speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, itinerant hearing services, itinerant vision services and social work counseling.

Special programs exist to specifically meet the needs of students with autism, behavior disorders and students who have previously not been successful in a traditional public school setting.  Transition services are an important part of the curriculum for all Special Education students.  Students have an opportunity to participate in a simulated workshop and in community internships.

For all students, learning is based on the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.

Special Education
Project SEARCH holds graduation, turning students into successes

The excitement was palpable in the auditorium at Beechwood Continuing Care on Tuesday, June 21, as students in the Project SEARCH program prepared to graduate.


Kimberly Beaty, left, presents her daughter Kayla, right, with a key to their home because of Kayla's earned responsibility she has shown during her time with Project SEARCH.
Project SEARCH is a transition program for students with disabilities in their last year of high school. The program features one-year placements at Beechwood Continuing Care, where students between the ages of 18 and 21 have the opportunity to test their strengths and grow more independent.

Participants in the program have grown personally and professionally from the Project SEARCH collaborative.

“I’ve learned how to work harder,” said Alexander Gehm, one of the 2016 graduates at the Project SEARCH ceremony. “It would be a lot harder without my mentor, Kathy. She teaches me how to do everything, anything she does during the day, she pretty much teaches me.”

Mentors at Beechwood also said they have gained a great deal from the experience, as the third successful year of the program came to a close.

“I’m most proud of what my students learn and working with them helps me, too,” said Geraldine Alexander, a mentor from the dining services division at the facility who hosted two students this year. “The students are incredible. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I would do this a thousand times over.”

Not only have students learned valuable life lessons and employable skills from their mentors, but they also took pride in their work.

“You’ll see the parents and the interns, in particular, so proud of themselves,” said Beechwood Continuing Care CEO Daniel O’Neill. “With their heads up, smiling all the time, making contact with everyone. It’s such a short period of time for children on the spectrum to have that type of change, it’s really incredible.”

Parents, according to O’Neill, are sometimes hesitant at the start of the program to leave their son or daughter with Project SEARCH.

“You can see some reservations in their eyes, you can see some concerns,” stated O’Neill. “Such a big business, is this the place that is going to take care of my son or daughter?”

The concerns, said parent Tricia Gehm, are short-lived.

“I’m very proud of my son, he’s got a job, he gets up every day, he does everything he needs to do,” said Gehm. “He’s definitely more responsible than he was prior to Project SEARCH. He enjoys coming to Beechwood and then coming home and telling us all about the stories, what he did during the day.”

The Project SEARCH internship program is a collaboration supported by Western New York businesses, including: Erie 1 BOCES, Beechwood Continuing Care, Aspire of WNY and The Summit Center. School districts interested in learning more about how to enroll students should  contact the Special Education office at Erie 1 BOCES.

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