EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Deer Creek Public Schools unveiled a labor of love Thursday with a new facility for students with special needs. The Deer Creek Transition Center is the only one of its kind in the state and it’s a place for these students to learn important life skills.
“It’s been a long group effort to get this done,” said Monique Dodd, a mother who has a special needs student in the Deer Creek School District.
It’s a project 15 years in the making.
The state-of-the-art transition center focuses on the education and skills of students with special needs. It allows them to build, practice and put into use daily life and work skills to be prepared for post-graduation life and become functioning members of society.
“I want my daughter to be not just a contributing member of society, I want her to have a life just like any other student,” Dodd said.
Dodd’s daughter is 16 years old and attends Deer Creek High School. Dodd is the president of the parent support group for students with special needs who helped raise money to make the center what it is.
KFOR got a first look inside where the teachers and students have classrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, hotel room and bathroom, a laundry room, and quiet spaces.
“Getting to work with my kiddos, it gets me so much joy,” said Olivia Seefelddt, a teacher of students with special needs at Deer Creek Schools.
Seefeldt has taught for four years in the Deer Creek School District. She teaches multiple subjects to them and has a brother with special needs as well.
“I watched how he grew up with the limited resources that the schools had,” Seefeldt said.
She and Dodd both said it cannot be understated just how much this helps these students.
“Deer Creek creating this and making it for the state and for our school district is a really amazing opportunity for all,” Seefeldt said.
“Normally when a student like mine turns age 16, they register with the Department of Rehab and they start that training program,” Dodd said. “Now, we’re going to be ahead of that.”
The center was mostly funded through parent and community donations with some help from bond funds and other district fundraisers. It’s expected to help over 30 students enrolled at the high school level right now, with more to come. The students also bake goods at the center and sell them to raise money for the Special Olympics.
The district also has a registry for the center.