Jacob is a fourth grade student in Elaina Aponte’s self-contained classroom at West Pine Elementary. Jacob is first and foremost a lover of robotics and technology. Jacob has autism and because of this is very shy and has a hard time in social settings, including school. That is until recently. Jacob’s mother, Jeannie, had a goal she set for her son: to be able to walk into school independently without her walking beside him. At the beginning of the year mom would circle the parking lot a few times, giving her son a pep talk and would ultimately end up walking him in. Mrs. Aponte and I put our heads together and thought we could use Dash as a way to entice Jacob to come into the building on his own. Dash would greet Jacob at the door and Mrs. Aponte would let him take on the role of the ‘programmer’ and he would code him to get back to class. Within about a month, Jacob now comes in school and doesn’t want his mother’s help at all. He tells his mother in the parking lot “I can do this!” When Dash is working in other classes on STEM infused lessons, Jacob walks to the classes he is in to check on him.
According to Mrs. Aponte, “Dash was able to give Jacob confidence and independence. Jacob is proud of himself and that makes me happy.”
“Jacob has been a student here for three years and has grown leaps and bounds. This robot has given him purpose and something to be excited about each day.”- Lisa Epling, Assistant Principal