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Teacher receives grant for social skills training class

By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Linda Gessner has learned that social skills play an important part in her students’ ability to learn. That’s why she has been working closely with some of her second-graders at H. Clarke Powers students to help in their interaction with peers. Now, Prudential California Realty’s Education Foundation has recognized Gessner’s dedication and excellence in the classroom with a $599 grant. “I’m so excited,” said Gessner. The social skills training program, she said, “significantly improved the success of several struggling students in my classroom.” Kim Fettke nominated Gessner for the award because of the progress their son Taran made in Gessner’s classroom. “My son's challenges make it difficult for him to behave as expected socially … he often has a hard time figuring out if someone is laughing at him, or if they are laughing with him because something he said or did was funny,” Fettke wrote. According to Fettke, before Gessner started the social skills training, the behavioral problems, which were unrelated to Taran’s intelligence or his ability to learn the academics, prevented him from being successful in the classroom. Fettke said that is no longer the case. “I have seen more growth in my son … since he started this program than I have seen from any other effort that any of us has made to help him succeed in school.” The timing of the grant couldn’t come at a better time, Gessner said. “In these economically difficult times, it feels great to receive this kind of recognition.” The money, she said, will be used to purchase materials — such as games, sensory items, balls and cards — to continue social skills training.