Mr. Josh Malenosky is pictured with Jacob Fortenberry, one of his students from Boyden-Hull High School, at Heritage Village during a field trip to Sioux Center last month.

Jacob Fortenberry and his teachers have reason to raise their flag of success daily. Jacob is a ninth-grade student at Boyden-Hull who has Aspergers syndrome.

Dennis Renes, a special education strategist at Northwest AEA, describes Jacob as someone who has a colorful character.  

"He is excited to come to school and, just yesterday, was observed giving his teacher a bear hug as he left school for the day," said Renes. "That hug was a flag in his social growth and a big 'thank you' to his teacher, Mr. Josh Malenosky, for all he has done for him over the past three years."

Boyden-Hull High School (BHHS) and AEA staff have worked to develop Jacob's program, explore new strategies, like Bellini video modeling, and implement supports, such as the following:
- Jacob needs structure and a visual schedule that provide order to daily activities. Jacob benefits from behavior supports to help him manage OCD behaviors. Daily encouragement to handle lunchtime fears has helped him develop independence. Jacob benefits from a calm and safe classroom with integration into classes such as science, PE, and industrial technology.  His reading continues to progress as he prefers graphic novels.

- Other positive behavior supports include the use of the five-point scale for feelings and red/green day for problem solving. Power cards with Hulk Hints for managing anger provide clues for social behavior. Jacob also works on skills with friends in a small group playing apples to apples, problem solving and visiting about daily events.

- Jacob has really grown over the years. He entered BHHS with severe physical behaviors towards staff members. Now Jacob is comfortable and respects everyone he meets. He can have a bad day once in awhile, but he is able to snap out of it and realize that he is responsible for his actions.

- Jacob’s father, Jose, is thankful for the people that work with Jacob. He is happy with the program provided by the school district and the AEA. He supports the school with regular contact and comments such as, “ I know you are doing what is best for him."

For Jacob and his family, the success they have experienced over the past few years is a great testimony to the collaborative efforts of AEA and school personnel.