Teachers, staff bring graduation home to special needs students

Kids from North Florida School of Special Education got a surprise delivery of cap and gown

C.J. Scott is a high school senior and a woman with special needs.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – C.J. Scott is a high school senior and a woman with special needs.

Like other students, she hasn’t been in a classroom for nearly two months, but on Wednesday, she received her cap and gown during a very special visit.

Teachers and staff from the North Florida School of Special Education arrived at Scott’s house to give her balloons, gifts, and congratulations for reaching the pinnacle of high school—graduation.

“When I heard the doorbell ring, I didn’t expect it,” said Marissa Scott, C.J.'s mother. “(There was) this group of people in our cul-de-sac--cars and people. I thought, one of the teachers will just drop off the cap and gown, so that was a huge surprise.”

The teachers and staff visited eight graduating seniors today to celebrate their achievements. It was special for the students. But maybe be more special for the teachers.

“It was huge. I will just be a majority of them each morning during our daily Zoom. To be able to see them face to face it honestly brought tears to my eyes,” said C.J’s teacher, Dawn Thomas. “I have missed them so much. And they were so excited to see us. I think we were more excited to see them.”

The moment was meant to remind students like C.J. that even though they don’t see the school’s staff every day, they’re still thinking about them.

“That was really what I wanted them to know, that we still think about you every single day,” said Ann Atkins, director of the transition and post-graduate programs at the school. “We had our head of school, our assistant head of school, our job coaches and all of the transition teachers, so I want to make sure that it’s not just Dawn, who they get to see every day. All of us are thinking about them, missing them. We’re still here. We’re going to come back. We’re going to have them in our classrooms again. Everything is going to kind of go on at some point.”

You may remember that News4Jax showed you Scott’s drive-thru birthday party in April. These sorts of visits are important for everyone, but especially for special needs students like Scott. The school is planning on holding a graduation ceremony at some point when it’s safe. But for now, these home visits will have to suffice.

About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.