A.G.A.P.E. (Appreciating God-Given Abilities of Persons with Exceptionalities): Exceptional Student Education Modified Sunday School Curriculum
Dear Fellow Servants,
By the grace of God, the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States, under the auspices of His Grace Bishop Youssef, developed a program called, “A.G.A.P.E.”—Appreciating God-Given Abilities of Persons with Exceptionalities, a modified curriculum for exceptional student education (ESE) to be used in conjunction with the current Sunday school program. Every lesson of each grade is in a PowerPoint presentation, complete with the same objective, memory verse, outline, application, and conclusion.
We strongly advocate for inclusion of exceptional students in the regular Sunday school classes with their peer groups as much as can be tolerated by the student with special needs. The experience of inclusion benefits students in exceptional education as well as in regular education. Inclusion fosters positive modeling, nurtures compassion toward students with special needs, increases recognition of peers for social purposes, develops friendships between students with different abilities, deepens respects for all persons, and initiates a desire to learn.
Each child has differences that must be considered. Inclusion in the regular Sunday school class may be brief—for just a few minutes, 10-15 minutes, or even last throughout the entire lesson. The child will let you know verbally, if possible, or by gestures. Because the social component is often neglected, other servants and students in the Sunday school classes need an orientation about the importance of every person in church, and especially individuals with special needs. A time should be set before beginning this program for an information session in the classes that you will be attending for inclusion. Encourage the children to extend a hand, be friendly, visit the special needs class, ask how they can help, and never just stare.
“Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5).
Begin the lesson by first taking the child to his/her class away the regular Sunday school classes.
After a short prayer and brief socializing with the student in the ESE class, proceed to the regular class.
Enter the class and have the child sit quietly. It is all right if the students acknowledge each other and welcome you.
Stay in the class as long as possible so long as the student is not disruptive to the class.
If the student becomes agitated or disruptive, you may then waive goodbye and return to your classroom.
When you return to your classroom and settle down, you may continue the lesson that was presented in the other class but via the ESE curriculum PowerPoint presentation.
Have the student look at the screen with you to see the word bank and the slides while you read the matching captions.
End the class with a review of the lesson and review of the names of the other children and servants from the other class.
If you have any questions or concerns, kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org and a servant will assist you and answer your questions.
A.G.A.P.E. ~ ESE Sunday School Committee