When Laura Joslin co-founded a school for children with physical disabilities she was determined to provide the immersive experiences and breadth of opportunities that students need to reach their full potential.
“We are going to make a difference in this world,” Joslin says with clarity and purpose. She takes an individualized approach at No Limits Academy in Melbourne, Florida, adapting the classroom to accommodate students who have physical and cognitive needs rather than steering them into a standard K-12 paradigm.
“Without communication, you cannot know someone’s true potential.”
Motivated to find solutions for her two sons with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, Joslin first founded a pediatric therapy centre, Ability Plus Therapy. She then began retooling the education model, co-founding No Limits Academy in 2008.
Her oldest, Cheyne, now walks on hand canes and has earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Sussex University in the UK where he lived on his own. Currently he is applying to PhD programs in the United States.
“Very few people with physical disabilities actually get to college; the stats for kids with physical disabilities who achieve Cheyne’s education are so vanishingly small they aren’t even tracked,” Joslin says.
She credits the integration of SMART Board® interactive displays and SMART Learning Suite software for making the classroom experience at No Limits more productive, individualized, and interactive. She says SMART brings the outside world in to the school, enriching the curriculum.
“We take for granted our ability to get up and explore the world,” Joslin says. “These kids need our help to do that, otherwise they are stuck sitting in a wheelchair, experiencing the world on a single plane. No Limits Academy flips that upside down.
“They can’t accumulate a breadth of sensory experiences in a chair — like understanding how the letter b relates to the word “bird” or seeing a bird’s nest on a branch,” Joslin explains. “But when we put a nest up on a SMART Board, they can hear the birds, they can touch the bird nest manipulatives, and they can interact via SMART hardware and software. And that is a revelation.”
No Limits Academy uses SMART Board® interactive displays, SMART amp software and iPads in each of their five classrooms, giving students an immersive visual and auditory experience. Multi-sensory learning is integral to the school’s own Holos Method which Joslin says helps build new neural pathways in the brain. Plus, the immersive experience also facilitates vital social interactions.
“With our kids who are non-verbal, SMART products are the key to communication. Students can express themselves, they can react and respond to each other, and they can see from their answers on the display that a class peer is their friend.”