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Kilmer Center opened in September 1978. The following article was written by Joan C. Gendreau, the first principal of Kilmer Center, and was originally published in the Fairfax Schools Bulletin.
"A new special education center for special needs students, ages 5 to 21, opens this month with approximately 180 pupils who live in the northern and western sections of Fairfax County. Most of them previously attended programs in the Oak Grove or Holmes Centers. In addition, half of the students who were enrolled in the program for the multiply handicapped at Lincolnia Center last year will now attend the Kilmer Center.
The new center is built on the grounds of Kilmer Intermediate School, near Tyson's Corner. Although the Kilmer Center is a self-contained special education unit, this common site permits the students and staff of both schools to have easy access to each other's people, program, and facilities.
Plans to prepare the students, parents, and staff of both schools for the opening of the Kilmer Center started a year ago when construction of the new building began. With the support and encouragement of the principal of Kilmer Intermediate School, Elizabeth Lodal, the intermediate school staff planned a series of meetings to inform themselves about special education programs in Fairfax County, particular needs of children with handicaps, and new legislation defining the rights of handicapped persons. Part of a human relations course and a series of sessions during a staff inservice day were used to present and discuss these topics.
One Kilmer Intermediate PTA meeting was used to inform parents about the opening of the Kilmer Center. Dorothy Haramis, at the time special education coordinator in Area III, presented information about the students who will attend the Kilmer Center as well as their special needs and training programs. In the spring, all parents whose children were designated to attend the Kilmer Center were invited to attend a "preview" meeting. Displays of the Center floor plan, curriculum framework, and booths with examples of students' work and activities were featured. Parents' questions and concerns were discussed.
A Transition Committee was formed with parent and teacher representatives from all of the special education centers and from Kilmer Intermediate. One subcommittee focused on ways in which staff and students from the two schools could work together. Possibilities for interaction included having joint staff meetings, using 7th and 8th grade students as volunteer classroom aides, and having Center students work in the office, custodial, and food service jobs in the intermediate school. Plans for having groups of students exchange visits for athletic and social events as well as special assemblies are evolving. The first joint meeting of the Kilmer Intermediate and Center staffs took place in early June. A social hour in the intermediate school library and a tour of the party finished Center was enjoyed by over 100 staff members.
A special teaching unit on understanding the needs of students was prepared by a committee of teachers at Kilmer Intermediate. This included the film "Including Me," related readings, and a discussion outline. It was used by English teachers for all 7th grade classes and many 8th grade presentations as well.
How effective have all these preparations been? If positive attitudes are a measure of success, then these efforts have been very worthwhile. Candidates running for 8th grade offices in the intermediate school this spring uniformly declared their intentions to work with the students of the Kilmer Center and make them feel welcome. These same sentiments are reflected by staff members and parents."
Stories from Kilmer Center
Experience some of our more recent history in these videos produced by Fairfax County Public Schools' cable television channel Red Apple 21. You'll step inside an Expressive Arts class, visit our Multi-Sensory Interactive Learning Environment (MILE) Lab, and experience an art exhibition and music show.
What's in a Name?
Learn for whom our school is named in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.