The Bailes Campus is a magnet school for arts, technology and full inclusion of students with disabilities.
A new east Orange County school has children with and without disabilities learning side by side — with the ultimate goal, its founders say, of becoming an international model for creating change in workplace attitudes.
The charter school, which opened last month with about 200 students in pre-kindergarten through third grade, uses a co-teaching model, with one educator providing traditional content and another adapting the material for students who learn differently. The school is aiming for students with disabilities to comprise at least half of the students in each classroom.
The Bailes Campus — as the research-based school is known — is designed as a magnet school for an unusual combination: Arts, technology and full inclusion. It was developed by UCP of Central Florida, a non-profit that was founded more than 50 years ago as United Cerebral Palsy and later shortened its name and expanded its mission.
The school will allow UCP to triple the number of children it serves each day and eliminate a waiting list for services.
"People with disabilities aren’t accepted into the community," says Ilene Wilkins, president and CEO of UCP of Central Florida. "If we can start kids very, very young ... they’ll have a whole different vision of the world than most of us grew up with."
UCP provides several examples of how students might work together: A student with visual impairments could mold a solar system out of clay while a classmate labels each planet. Students could work together to create a website or video to show what they’ve learned because not all students are capable of writing a traditional report.
UCP had raised about $6 million for the project by midyear, as well as donated architectural and building services. The first students were chosen by lottery.
"We’re hoping it becomes an international model for best practices ... and we’ll be able to have research that backs it up," says Wilkins. "You can’t change the world, but each child knows at least 10 adults. Little by little, we can change attitudes and acceptance."
A classroom at the Bailes Campus.