“At first they thought I was crazy, but once I explained what it was they got so excited,” said Angela Hitchens, a special education teacher at East Millsboro Elementary School in Millsboro, Delaware. “Once they got their hands on the Epson LabelWorks 400, you’d have thought a truckload of candy had been delivered to the class!”
Mrs. Hitchens’ class is a very unique collection of grade-schoolers. Her self-contained classroom hosts six special education students that are there all day, each day of the school week. Her students are children with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism and even one young boy with selective mutism.
“My kids rely on a structured and very organized environment,” explains Mrs. Hitchens. “I asked for the label maker from DonorsChoose.org because I thought it would help the students to have items in the classroom labeled. Little did I know they were going to take it over!”
It was a proud moment for Mrs. Hitchens when she saw her students take ownership of the label maker. “It wasn’t just something that I used. They were interacting with each other, and showing me where they thought labels were needed throughout the classroom. Seeing them problem-solve and use initiative is so wonderful.”
Another unexpected surprise with the label maker for Mrs. Hitchens was its ability to print pictures and symbols. This is helpful for those children in the class who haven’t yet learned to read. They can look at the label on a box or drawer, and if they can’t read the word, the picture will usually spark an idea as to what’s inside. It’s also a boon for her student with selective mutism. He communicates using a set of pictures in a binder that he points to when he needs something; a pencil, perhaps, or his shoes tied. “We’ve used the label maker to label the pictures, to connect the visual with the printed word,” remarked Mrs. Hitchens. “That binder goes with him everywhere.”
Mrs. Hitchens was also interested to hear that the label maker can print onto ribbon, and ribbon with an iron-on backing. “At the beginning of each school year, we make shirts for each student for field trips and other outings,” she says. “This way we can use the iron-on ribbon to put each child’s name on them.”
And that’s not the only reason she’s looking forward to using the label maker during her next school term. “I’m excited for the returning students. They’ll get to explain to the new students about the label maker, and it will give them a great sense of ownership,” Mrs. Hitchens says. “They’ll be so proud to show the new kids the little machine that can put words on stuff.”