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The Smetona Twins

Student Michael Smetona likes using a computer and playing sports. His twin sister, Megan, enjoys reading and art. At The Bancroft School, each has gotten to focus on his/her individual interests and abilities — preparing the 21-year-olds for their own, unique paths after graduation. “Bancroft has been able to tap into their particular talents and give them what they needed,” says mom Betsey Smetona. For instance, staff members have capitalized on Michael’s computer interest by teaching him to do research and play games on the Internet. And teachers have used Megan’s love of reading to increase her knowledge in many subjects, including world cultures and math. Plus, instruction focuses on practical skills. For instance, Megan has learned to apply math in the real world, through lessons on balancing a checkbook, paying bills, comparison shopping and the like. Opportunities for development have gone beyond the classroom, too. Michael has competed on Bancroft’s Special Olympics teams — including bowling and track and field — for many years. Megan has performed on-stage and behind-the-scenes in Bancroft’s student opera since its inception in 2002, and she regularly participates in the annual art show. Megan has been especially successful with her artwork, her mom notes, and recently sold nine drawings in a charity auction. “Bancroft has really helped her develop that gift,” remarks Betsey. “It’s one of the ways she connects with people and the world.” The twins’ needs have varied as much as their interests. For example, Michael has required help with verbal abilities, reading, and tolerating noisy environments. Megan needed to improve her social skills and reading comprehension. Each twin also has a different diagnosis, which affects his or her educational needs. While Michael has autism, Megan has Asperger’s syndrome — an autism-spectrum disorder with fewer mental delays. Michael has worked in a local restaurant with Bancroft’s support, and is today served in Bancroft’s Community Services for Adults Program. “Michael’s become more independent than I thought he would be,” says Betsey. “He’s more verbal, spontaneous and social.” Megan came to Bancroft with many abilities, but she was often overly friendly and talkative. “We give lectures on appropriate behavior,” says Nikki Hyder, Megan’s teacher. “At work versus social situations; with people we’re familiar with versus acquaintances.” Such skills have put Megan on a positive path, with a full life of friends and activities. She also holds multiple part-time jobs: She works at a local CVS store. Plus she helps out at Haddon field’s Markeim Art Center — where she’s compensated in free studio time. Megan credits her teachers with much of her work success. “They teach us organization, cooperation, minding your manners, being punctual,” says Megan. “They keep things stress-free.” “I’m very proud of them,” says Betsey. “They’ve achieved so much, and it’s due to Bancroft.”
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