The Union Recorder

May 13, 2013

GNETS of Oconee dedicated to graduating students

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Annie Mosley began her career at GNETS of Oconee in Milledgeville as an intern and nearly 35 years later ready for retirement, she has continued to dedicate her work day helping youth with special educational needs graduate from high school and succeed in life afterward.

“What I enjoyed the most is being able to serve the parents and children. I build a relationship between the home and school and make parents feel comfortable,” said Mosley, who has served as the GNETS family service coordinator since 1992. “I do an assessment on the student and determine whether they are eligible for the GNETS program. I know this program makes a difference.”

GNETS provides comprehensive educational and therapeutic support services to students who might otherwise require residential or other more restrictive placements due to the severity of one or more of the characteristics of the disability category of emotional and behavioral disorders.

“The requirement to be a student at GNETS is the student has to have some emotionality and already be in a special education program at school. If they are having difficulty and behavior issues to the point that it interferes with their education and the education of others, the student is referred to us. After I do an assessment, they can be placed here on a 30-day diagnostic and the teacher collects data in terms of educational abilities and then we meet again to determine if they can be placed back at their home school,” Mosley explained. “Our objective is to get students here, find out what the problem is, correct the issue and get them back to their home school.”

GNETS of Oconee received the Georgia College Community Partner of the Year Award for its various collaborative activities with the university. Georgia College students and area volunteers have worked with students on community service projects and activities throughout the year. Various activities are also hosted throughout the year to support parental and community involvement, including the Fall Festival, a Thanksgiving luncheon, Christmas party, talent show, student cook-outs, field trips and more.

“The one thing this school doesn’t have is extracurricular activities. This year we have tried to improve opportunities for students. We had some art classes and Georgia College Art Tank offered classes last semester. [Georgia College Art Department Chair] Dr. Bill Fisher also held a silk screening workshop to allow students to place prints on their own shirts,” said Virginia Stoik, a Georgia College graduate student who recently completed her residency. “We use extra curricular activities as incentives for the kids and motivate them to continue to do good. It exposes them to positive things and teaches them how to be a good team player and work together. We’re trying to get more people to volunteer to offer different extracurricular activities and do more community-based things, but due to the lack of funds, we can’t do much.”

With 10 classrooms located at the main center, a satellite classroom is housed at the Early Learning Center and one in Johnson County for grades six through 12. Each year, Wolf said at least two students graduate high school with a special education diploma or sometimes even a regular education diploma.

“This school year, 122 students have come to GNETS, and 25 of those students have transitioned back to their home school. Also at least 10 students complete half a day at their home school and half at GNETS,” GNETS of Oconee Director Pat Wolf said. “We have a staff of about 25 support teachers and I appreciate them. People don’t realize how teachers are patient, therapeutic and really trying to make a difference in the lives of students.”

GNETS’ academic curriculum follows the same Common Core Georgia Performance Standards as the public school system, but behavior issues are handled differently in the smaller classroom environment.

“Most parents are very grateful because the problem started early in life and parents are not able to get it under control. In a regular school setting, even in special education, students don’t get the treatment they need,” Mosley said. “To have the students in a smaller environment, parents start seeing the transition and their child getting better behaviorally and academically. I think the program is very successful and we’ve been effective.”

GNETS of Oconee is one of 24 programs of the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS). GNETS of Oconee serves students with disabilities from age 3 to 21 in Baldwin, Hancock, Jasper, Johnson, Putnam, Washington and Wilkinson counties.

GNETS of Oconee first opened in Milledgeville in 1976 next to the former Northside Elementary School, where Lowe’s is currently located on North Columbia Street. The school then moved to the old Carver School building 18 years later where instruction began to focus more toward academics rather than just behavior. GNETS is currently located at 1300 Orchard Hill Rd. where the old Boddie Middle School once thrived.

For more information about GNETS of Oconee, or to volunteer, call 478-414-2023 or visit www.gnetsofoconee.org.

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