BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON – At Vista Education Campus, students learn about getting dressed, asking for help, being on time and being clean.
Also at Vista, students learn to make their beds, prepare meals, go comparison shopping and write resumes.
The Farmington school is unique to Davis County, established especially for students between 18 and 22 years old with special needs. It also serves students of junior high and high school age, according to their special education needs.
Some of the 300 students who attend school at Vista during the school year may still be working on their high school diplomas, some may be developing skills to help them enter the workforce and some are severely medically challenged and learning more basic skills.
“They can all contribute,” said Glaucia Brown, supervisor and principal. “They appreciate that they still have a disability but they sure put in a lot of effort to do what they can.”
The new campus in Farmington, east of the county buildings, has been completed in phases.
The first phase, which has been in use since last year, includes classrooms and offices. Spaces built to resemble apartments and to give hands-on experience in kitchens will be ready for the coming school year.
One area has padded walls for students that may have violent episodes.
There is a stage for performances by the school choir, a student store, open space and a recreation room, and a study space with computers and manuals on everything from auto technology to cosmetology to welding.
A landscaped area outside allows space for socializing and may one day provide gardening experience for students.
Education at the school, as at other schools, covers subjects such as math, but includes more practical applications, such as budgeting. Studies in English may include resume writing.
“We teach math and reading as well as social skills,” said Brown, “all with the emphasis of preparing them for adult life so they can become responsible citizens and contribute to society.”
Instruction is individualized, according to James Gordon, vice principal.
In some cases, students may need help with simple tasks such as feeding themselves or throwing a ball. Other students are preparing for independence.
“We have a very wide spectrum,” said Gordon. Both teachers and part-time para-educators, who travel with students to work sites or help them manage the bus system, are “absolutely vital to what we do.”
Students may learn about contracts and costs for apartments one day, he said, they may go to a mall and learn about comparison shopping another and they may have safety training another.
What they learn may someday lead to employment.
Teaching these students the unique skills necessary for their situations takes a partnership between parents, teachers, the school board, the superintendent and other stakeholders, said Brown.
The new facility, funded by the school district, tells the students they are valued, she said.
“It makes a difference. These are kids who’ve had it tough,” she said. “They knew it was for them. It sent the message of more respect for who they are. You can see the difference.”
An open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completed facility will be held Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 5 p.m., prior to the regularly scheduled meeting of the Davis School Board.