WCHS demonstrates excellent help towards students with disabilities


Photo courtesy of Robin Frischtak

WCHS freshman Robin Frischtak assists fellow student Rowen Krebbs in their Resource class. In Resource, teachers are available to also help, but students work with each other.

By Amari Suissa, Staff Writer

It is March, meaning that it is Disability Awareness month. MCPS is a county that is working towards helping disabled students create a future for themselves, and WCHS is a school that is working towards creating an environment where disabled people can thrive.

WCHS is one of six schools that hosts bridge services, a program to help middle and high school students with disabilities who may need extra social, emotional or educational help. A part of this program is the Resource class, which WCHS freshman North Malet is a part of.

“Resources is a class where you get help with your work and have time to do your work and finish your assignments,” Malet said. “I usually do my math homework and any homework I have not had a chance to do or just didn’t do the night before.”

For students who need the extra time and help to complete assignments, Resources is an important safety net they can fall back on. The teachers are the backbone of this program and are who students rely on for support.

“They treat students well, and so far, teachers at WCHS have been good,” Malet said. “I’ve got super nice teachers, but I’ve [also] been in Resources my whole life and have [always] had nice teachers. I do feel supported, which makes me feel comfortable at school.”

One of these teachers, Jonathan Chung, is a special education and Resource teacher who has been in the field for eight years. He manages a minimum of 25 kids every year, helping them mentally, emotionally and educationally.

“I think of myself as a manager,” Chung said. “I do what I can to help students be successful. That could be academic support, it could be social support, and also kind of speaking up for my student as if they’re my client.”

When working with kids with disabilities, it can be especially hard to get kids to listen to instructions. This means that unfortunately, it is way easier to look at what the student is doing wrong, which Chung tries not to do.

“The thing about my job is that I work with students [for who] school is not easy,” Chung said. “It’s kind of too easy to focus on what’s not working versus the successes, but there are always successes.”

Planning out the future and thinking about life even after high school can be a large source of stress for many WCHS students. If everything does not go 100 percent how it was supposed to, life seems to tilt in the wrong direction. Resources also help students with their futures. When learning how to manage homework in Resources, it also helps them learn to manage their time.

“They give you skills like how to take notes and writing down our schedules, which I think will be helpful in the future because it’s hard to stay organized,” Malet said.

Because Chung experienced the same future-planning stress as a young adult, he knows what his students are going through. Chung felt like he became lost in life and became someone he did not want to be, causing him to realize he needed to take matters into his own hands.

“I was not the best student and in my college years; I was not the best person,” Chung said. “I wasn’t somebody who was contributing to society. X, y, and z happened and I thought I need to change my life and get it back.”

Taking tests is anxiety-introducing for any student, but when the brain cannot focus and comprehending a subject is hard, it becomes even more difficult and stressful. Resources allows students to have extra time during tests and a few extra class periods to grasp a concept.

“They give you notes and accommodations and stuff, which helps,” Malet said. “I think for some people, MCPS’s programs definitely more helpful than others. The opportunities that they’re giving, in general, are very helpful, but I appreciate them.”

Chung feels that it is his responsibility to help students become their best selves. Some students more than others might need a little push to help them get on the right path. Chung’s plan is to provide that push.

“I want to have kids leaving more confident and learning about themselves and the tools they can use,” Chung said. “Knowing what works for us is key and my job is to help them find that key. I hope the kids I worked with leave feeling better. That would be dope.”