Janesville homebound teachers work to keep students on track

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Nick Crow
Monday, May 26, 2014

JANESVILLE—Linda Daane has been a homebound teacher in the Janesville School District for 12 years.

She was a certified classroom teacher until she had her fourth child.

“I had a friend who did homebound,” Daane said. “She said I would really like it, and the rest is history.”

The homebound program is designed for students who have medical conditions or behavioral challenges said Barb Kelley, assistant director of special education for the district.

“Homebound is not a permanent placement,” Kelley said. “Sometimes students can't handle the classroom, and this works for them. We are always sure to have a good transition plan to get them back into school.”

Brittany Sennett, 15, is one such student.

Sennett readily admits her life hasn't been easy.

“My family lived in a van for three years and a hotel for two,” she said. “We have moved around a lot.”

After discipline problems at school, Sennett benefited from the one-on-one interaction she got from Daane in the homebound program.

“You have to connect with the teacher to learn,” Sennett said. “We actually get along and actually talk about things. We connect in a lot of ways.”

Daane said she meets with Sennett three times a week for two hours at a time. They cover a different subject each day to keep Sennett on track for a return to school.

“We started together three weeks ago,” Daane said. “The district calls and asks if I can work with a particular student and we work out a time that fits into everyone's schedule. It's really nice because we are able to spend so much time together.”

Homebound teachers meet with students in their homes, at Hedburg Public Library, or at the school district offices to complete classes.

“In my 12 years there has been no duplication,” Daane said. “No two days are the same and no two kids are the same. That is what's really nice about it.”

Kelley said there are currently 13 homebound students district-wide. The average for the program this time of year is about a dozen, she said.

“The amount of time they are in the program varies,” Kelley said. “A typical student is in the program for a quarter of the school year.”

Kelley said each student is put on an Individual Education Plan charting his or her progress. Counselors, teachers, parents and psychologists meet and decide the best course of action for the student, Kelley said.

“The way the program is successful is homebound instructors get their materials from the classroom teachers,” Kelley said. “The work is directly from the school. That makes their transition back to school much smoother.”

Each homebound teacher works with two to three students at a time on average, Kelley said. The district does its best to match homebound teachers with students based on their needs, she said.

“We find students who struggle in other settings may be successful here,” Kelley said. “The goal is to get them on track for graduation. The homebound teachers all have a passion for the student. They've been teaching and want to continue to make a difference for a student.”

Kelley said 26 students in grades 10-12 have received homebound services in the past three years. Fifteen of those students graduated in the district, 10 did not graduate and three withdrew to other districts, she said. Two of the three who transferred eventually graduated, Kelley said.

Most students who participate in the program are older, but the program extends to any grade if there is a need, Kelley said. Younger students use the program more for medical reasons, while older children are enrolled more for behavioral reasons, Kelley said.

“You can get a lot done in two hours of time one-on-one,” Daane said. “It provides time because there aren't other students asking questions or time taken out to correct behavior.”

Many districts have a version of the homebound program in place, Kelley said. It's a district's obligation to educate students, she said.

Daane said homebound teachers receive excellent support from the district because student success is the ultimate goal.

“If I didn't believe in the program I would not have stayed doing it so long,” she said.

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