Dr. David Lazerson understands what he does is serious… seriously fun, seriously unique, and seriously effective. Dr. Lazerson, also known as Dr. Laz, is a special education music and drama teacher at The Quest Center in Hollywood, Florida. There, Dr. Laz has created a one-of-a-kind classroom full of visual and sound effects for his students to be engaged and encouraged.
Music is Dr. Lazerson’s secret weapon when it comes to getting his students engaged and involved in the learning process. “Music is awesome for them, because it puts them right in the here and now and there’s just nothing like being in a band and playing live music. It’s magic, music is magic.”
Beyond music, Dr. Laz creates a classroom students are excited to come to. “Even when I had a self-contained special needs classroom in a regular school, I felt like the only way to get around the stigma of special needs was to make my room the most exciting room in the building,” he explained.
Now, Dr. Laz keeps his room dark with a lot of visual and multi-sensory things going on. On one wall he has a program that can project different environments, for example, the inside of a submarine. And all of the instruments have been made adaptive so that every student has a chance to participate, including adaptive drums, microphones, and even a PowerPoint switch.
“I have visuals that go along with a lot of the songs that I do,” he said. “So kids in wheelchairs are able to use an adaptive wireless switch that whenever they hit it, it will move to the next slide.”
Every student, no matter their abilities, is involved and engaged in Dr. Laz’s classroom. “My main job is to get them out of their usual role, from the passive observers to more active participants. Music puts them there.”
Every year, the school puts on two major productions but the students do everything. They are the singers, dancers, actors, stagehands and prop people for every show. A couple of years ago, the MC was a wheelchair-bound student who was able to use a head switch communication device to MC the entire show.
Dr. Laz is always looking for help funding his classroom as the adaptive instruments are expensive and his students can be hard on the equipment. With future donations, Dr. Laz hopes to purchase more adaptive percussion instruments, communication devices, and a couple wireless head microphones.
If you would like to raise a hand for Dr. Laz and other teachers like him, search for a teacher here.