WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Several special needs students are getting their caps and gowns ready for graduation but learning does not stop after receiving their high school diploma.
Matthew Gonzales,19, graduated from high school last year but is still in the classroom thanks to a WFISD program where special needs graduates can continue learning.
The curriculum Gonzales is learning he cannot get out of a textbook.
"We have life skills classes," SuzAnne Russell WFISD Director of Special Educations said. "They work on functional academics and community-based instruction which is called CBI."
That basically means their lesson plans are how to become independent. The special needs students are taught how to cook, clean and given job skills.
"It gives him meaning and purpose for each day that he goes to school," Amanda, Matthew's mother, said.
Amanda said her son likes to say 'I would like to go to work' when referring to going to school.
Through the years, hundreds of special needs students have graduated through the program and more businesses have partnered up with the district.
There are now 15 businesses where the students can learn job skills. Amanda said parents are also being taught along the way.
"I believe the program has helped me as a parent foster these skills and work with him and know that he can progress in those areas," Amanda said.
She said watching her baby boy grow up makes her happy and sad at the same time.
"It's opened his eyes and enabled him to get out into the community that he feels like he doesn't need his mom every day."
Special needs students and their parents are encouraged to talk with school counselors to find out what courses in the program they want to take for the start of the next school year.