NewsPositively Oklahoma


Jenks special education program focuses on fun, exercise for students

Screen Shot 2021-09-03 at 12.09.25 PM.png
Posted at 1:29 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 20:24:14-04

Mark Duesler and Kyle Martin have the best job ever.

"They make the day fun and your life fun," said Mark Duesler. "They give you a different perspective on life sometimes."

As special education teachers and coaches at Jenks Public Schools, they feel lucky to be able to spend time with the coolest and happiest kids in school.

"As soon as I get there, I see the kids and they start coming up and hugging you," Duesler said. "It just changes everything, and it just makes a bad day good."

Jenks has four special education coaches and 32 athletes. The Adaptive P.E. class begins with a warm-up routine of stretching and walking or running. Then they bring in the fun stuff: volleyball, basketball, soccer, bowling, even tug-of-war.

"We try to change it up," said Kyle Martin.

The focus is on fun, exercise, and building a sense of community.

"They make some good friendships with not only each other, but the peer helpers that are in the program here with us," Martin said. "They wouldn't have those connections generally otherwise."

Those peer helpers come from the Project Unify Club. It provides athletic and leadership opportunities for kids with and without disabilities.

"(A peer helper is) a quote-unquote typical kid who makes those connections with our students," Martin said. "It's a lot of fun."

The peer helpers also travel with the athletes to the Special Olympics and make the huge event even more special.

"The last two years the Summer Games have been canceled, so we're praying this year that we get to go to the Summer Games because that's the highlight of our year," Duesler said. "Our kids just love that."

Keeping kids smiling, active, and accepted throughout the school. The Jenks Special Education Program is Positively Oklahoma.

"The kids are what keep me here," Martin said. "The kids."

"They're just full of love," said Duesler. "You can't have a bad day around these kids."

Want positive news in your email every Friday? SIGN UP for our Positively Oklahoma newsletter.

For more Positively Oklahoma stories visit our website

Join our Positively Oklahoma Facebook group to submit your photos of great things you see across the state.