Read about it in this Cleveland Plain-Dealer article.
Lakewood High School teacher uses creature collection to reach students
LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- Lakewood High School Intervention Specialist Cory A. Streets has nine animals and two aquariums full of fish in his MILES (Moving to Independent Learning for Employment and Success) classroom, which he has designed to teach his current class of 25 students life skills to help them succeed once they leave high school.
"This year, we have two ball pythons, a bearded dragon, a leopard gecko, a gargoyle gecko and a pair of breeding rats that the kids have really fallen in love with," Streets said. "They've been kind of the surprise hit in the classroom.
"The kids are super into the lizard and snakes, but I tell you, those rats are like their therapy rats for the kids. They just love playing with them. I was surprised," he said.
Prior to switching rooms last school year, Streets said he discovered that his students had really connected with a leopard gecko. Then, when he moved into his current classroom for students with exceptionalities, he had more freedom to expand his creature collection.
"The summer before last school year, I kind of got carried away on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace finding a whole bunch of free pet supplies and aquariums," Streets said.
"So it just sort of took off from there. I probably put in well over a $1,000 of my own money over the past couple of years. My wife thinks I'm crazy, but the kids love it and it's a lot of fun," he said.
Sophomore Tomaserin Larocque said he enjoys spending time with all of the different animals.
"I think it's relaxing to play with the animals," he said. "My favorite animals are Ronald and Delilah, the rats."
Added sophomore Cameron Constantine: "The animals are friendly. I've learned a lot about the animals and their different habitats. I also enjoy taking care of the different animals. My favorite class pet is Shadow, the leopard gecko, because she's friendly and fun to hold."
Streets even created his own program he calls CREATURES (Cultivate Responsibility and Empathy Through Unique, Real and Engaging Studies), which this past summer was the recipient of a $400 Lakewood Ranger Education Foundation grant.
"The animals have been really great working with these kids because, as the name applies, they're learning empathy and responsibility and learning new skills," Streets said.
"They're following schedules. And each month, I have them do a different job related to the animals. Once they've mastered that, then they teach that job to the next person.
"We're also learning about ecosystems and biomes, which ties in with a lot of different standards, specifically in science and math. We talk about geography for social studies. There's really just no shortage of possibilities for including them into the curriculum, which has been really amazing."
NOTE: Funds will be given directly Lakewood School District for use by this program.
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