Students with Special Needs Get Student Government and Prom

Port View Preparatory, a K-22 school serving students from Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties with autism and other special needs, has rolled out an innovative student government program, prom and other activities that most students take for granted, but those with special needs rarely enjoy.

“We’ve never seen these life milestones offered to students and wondered, ‘Why not?’” says co-founder and principal, Dr. Edward Miguel of Port View. “Since launching the Student Government, student confidence has soared,” he adds.

Formed in June, Port View’s student government elective program is comprised of a student president, vice-president, campus chair, events chair, secretary and classroom representative. The group meets monthly to discuss items the school should purchase, event ideas, planning and much more.

“The reward of seeing their ideas implemented for the whole school is highly empowering as it would be for any other student,” says Dr. Melaura Erickson Tomaino, co-founder, principal and advisor to the group. Student-led programs like student government are a staple at schools and valued for the lessons of teamwork and individual responsibility.

The students’ first initiatives were planning Halloween decor and a related flyer for parents, a talent show, and requesting new equipment for recess. The talent show, held in August, was captured in part on the video “A Day at Port View.

Parents raising children with special needs know all too well how often their kids are left out of social opportunities widely available to other students. “Before coming here, a prom, visits to restaurants where kids learn to order their own meals, yoga, and cross-fit training weren’t even on the menu,” says parent Veronica Barin, whose son previously attended a variety of schools.

Andrea Dougherty, whose child also attends Port View, credits the school’s philosophy. “It’s Port View’s way because they see our kids as they are: students who just happen to have special needs. They hold them accountable and provide them with great opportunities to succeed.”

Co-founders and principals Miguel and Tomaino are just getting started. “We are passionate about seeking out opportunities that help our students to thrive. Quite simply, it is the biggest reward either of us could ask for,” says Miguel.

About Port View Preparatory School:

Port View Preparatory is a non-public school that operates like the best private schools in the country for students K-22 with special needs. Small class sizes, high teacher-to-student ratios, (currently 1:12), use of applied behavior analysis, speech-language and occupational therapies, the PEERS program, social skills training, Port View also provides vocational education and career development for students. Community integration and training programs, fitness and unique educational field trips are also offered. Additionally, the school provides top-of-the-line equipment and student transportation. With a vision to see beyond the challenges, Port View Preparatory charts educational opportunities that allow each student to fulfill his or her full potential while providing a personalized education for all.

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Port View Preparatory School
Lisa Odendaal, 714-463-6394

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