LEANDER, TEXAS - Studies show students with special needs are two to three time more likely to be bullied than other students, and Knox Wiley Middle School is trying to change that by not just teaching their students things out of a book, but by teaching them lessons on life.
"She's amazing. She's positive and caring," said Sarah Gilland, an 8th grade science teacher.
"She's very inclusive. All of the students get to be included in everything," added ICAP teacher, Courtney Ankenbauer.
Inside the gymnasium at Knox Wiley, you can't tell the P.E. students apart. And that's just the way P.E. Coach Christina Hahn wants it.
"Last year we had some kids making fun of other kids with autism or different disabilities. And we decided they never get a chance to interact with each other. They never have lunch together, they don't have classes together," said Hahn. That inspired her to launch a program joining up special needs students with the rest of the school.
At first not everyone was game, but they came around.
"We had kids that never really wanted to participate and then they said that was their best day they ever had and they wanted to do it again. So we did it over and over and this year, they are with us everyday," said Hahn.
Pretty soon that daily interaction turned into friendship. Take Grace for example. She can be a little timid. Her classmate, 6th grader Jasmine Galvan, is very outgoing. Jasmine said she's learned a lot about honesty from her new buddy.
"She doesn't have to pretend. She is very straight up. But that's what I like about her. I guess that's what makes her... her," Galvan said.
Students and teachers are also paying close attention to Coach Hahn's dedication to making the school a better place. A place where kindness and understanding come first.
"Every school needs a Coach Hahn right?" said Ankenbauer.
It seems Coach Hahn isn't just inspiring kids, but teachers and staff as well. Hahn and her co-coach Chelsea Fielden often put up different bulletin boards around school.
They promote nutrition and healthy eating, motivate everyone during STAAR testing and encourage overall confidence and positivity.
(© 2017 KVUE)