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Special education teacher ready to make dream life skills center for students a reality

Posted at 11:08 AM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 14:08:07-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Julie Brown has a vision.

The special education teacher understands that her students learn best by doing so she wants to build both work and life skills centers in the classroom - places where students will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning everyday.

"Places where they can do things that they need to learn every single day," said Brown, in her fourth year at Durango High School.

Brown plans to convert unused or underutilized spaces in her classroom and adjoining rooms into areas where students can learn practical life and work skills. The work skills center will include an area to work folding napkins and rolling silverware (for possible future restaurant work) or sorting shoes (something done at places like Goodwill). She also plans to create a studio apartment-like space with a washer and dryer and kitchen appliances.

For Brown, it’s about one thing: building independence.

“This is about the kids," said Brown, "to create an atmosphere for them to learn their life skills and their ability to become a member of the community is phenomenal.”

But Brown can’t build a life skills center on her own. That’s why her coworker Jennifer Davis, also a special education teacher, has been applying for grants to help. And why she nominated her friend for 13 Days and Knights of Giving.

“The center combines academics, daily living skills and occupational skills that help teach our students how to live and work in the community," said Davis.

For Mrs. Brown, it’s always been about the kids. Including her own.

“I raised a special needs child so I get it. I know what these kids need and I’m so glad I get the opportunity to help.”

The recipients have been invited to an event in their honor hosted by the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation, where they’ll receive their gifts. 13 Days and Knights of Giving is sponsored by the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation, Subaru of Las Vegas and America First Credit Union.