Burkett Center opens updated campus - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Burkett Center opens updated campus

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JEFFERSON COUNTY - AL -

A program-- often left out of the spotlight-- is touching the lives of children in need. The Burkett Center serves 140 Jefferson County students. It helps students with everything from attention disorders to very serious handicaps. The school renovated the former Mortimer Jordan campus and ABC 33/40 got an inside look at the impact it's making.

"When Ethan was born, he was born with what they call migrational disorder," Chuck Bean, Ethan's Dad said.

7 year old Ethan Bean also has lung disease, scoliosis, and is legally blind.

"Since he's a special needs child, he cannot go to a per say, normal public school," Bean said.

That's where the Burkett school comes in. Since the 1970's, it's been educating special needs children in Jefferson County.

"It addresses the individual needs of the kids in the classroom without it bothering the other students," Dan Roth, Principal said.

Up until now, it's been in cramped quarters, but now it's in the former Mortimer Jordan High School - doubling space and capabilities.

"Individual restrooms in all the classroom, changing tables, physical therapy mats, therapy rooms," Roth said.

Teachers want to make sure these children are loved and have a chance at learning.

"I have children with hearing impairment, I have children with speech problems,  and I have children who are multi handicapped," Nancy Hill, preschool teacher said.

"We're hoping one day we're hoping he will be able to hold his head up or turn to the side. To you and me, that's not such a big item, but for him, that's major and we look forward to seeing it," Bean said.

 Teachers say the new technology has revolutionized this type of education.

"You'll see them just sitting there gazing at it so you know they are gaining more of an
understanding because they're actually paying attention to it," Mary Margaret Kemp, a teacher said.

"Sure they have special needs, but one of their strengths is they can grab your heart and once they get ahold of it, they're not letting go," Bean said.

Two big fundraisers are in the works next month for the Burkett Center. Next Friday, its annual golf tournament is at Limestone Springs. Then, Saturday the October 20th, a benefit motorcycle ride will help support Burkett.

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