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Friday was National Special Education Day, and Alpena Public Schools was proud to recognize it. We spoke with a school district staff member about how special education is conducted in the area.

It happens annually on December 2nd, as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was passed on the same day in 1975. It has since been an important day that opens up communication on how to better advance special education and make it more accessible to the students who need it. APS has about 12% of their students receive these resources, short of the national average of 15%. Stacy Moors, the Executive Director of Special Populations for APS, talked about what it’s like to have a day that recognizes special education.

“It’s very rewarding work, but it is hard work, and so it’s just nice to have a day that it’s recognized for their hard work, and have the opportunity to thank them for their hard work, and also to recognize that we have that unique population, and just how special they are,” she said.

Moors oversees programming for special education in the district. She is in her first year as executive director at APS, but she has been involved in special education for almost 20 years. She says she is proud of how the schools integrate students of all learning abilities.

“They are in a lot of general education classrooms and participating and learning with their same aged peers who don’t have disabilities, so I feel like overall, they’re really integrated nicely and accepted by our school community and our community as a whole,” she said.

As society learns more about people with special needs and conversation takes its natural flow of discourse, Moors says she’s seen more empathy and acceptance in the community.

“A lot of the students who have disabilities and individuals who have disabilities you may not even know when you meet them out and about, at the store, or at community events,” she said. “They just need a little help learning in the school environment or in the workplace. So, generally speaking, I think our population is really well received in our community.”

APS is proud to have an incredible staff that supports special education students who strive to overcome their challenges and attain their goals.