In a small classroom at Greer High School, pioneering work is being done in the field of special education, as eight students work on building futures that otherwise might seem less certain.

It is a classroom where mentally challenged students are allowed to learn the social and survival skills many take for granted. There are no algebra or grammar lessons. Instead, a day’s studies might include a trip to the bank, a lesson in ironing clothes, a day on the job, a fast-food breakfast with friends or a casual game of cards. They’re the simple tasks and activities that fill our days, but for this group, they are the building blocks of confidence, independence, friendship, and hope.

“It’s about getting students out in the community and on their way to living independently,” said John Mauldin, who has structured the Transition Program with assistant Marie Studley.

Recently Mauldin traveled to Orlando, Florida to accept the Marc Gold award for Greer’s “exemplary transition program for students with disabilities,” presented by the Council for Exceptional Children. Greer High was nominated for the honor by Clemson student teacher, Michael-Ann Kelly. In her letter to the nomination committee, she wrote, “Although Mr. John Mauldin was not specifically trained in transition; his program was designed because he saw a need. He responded to his students’ abilities and desires. He sees their potential to contribute to society in the work force and through interpersonal relationships.”

One of the students who has gone through Mr. Mauldin’s Special Education Transition Program at Greer High School is Joel Dill. He is the son of Joe Dill and the late Gail Dill of the Blue Ridge area in northern Greenville County.

Joel has worked part-time at the college since last fall in a wide range of worksites, including grounds, post office, gymnasium, and Student Services.

He is currently concentrating in the area of Student Services housekeeping assisting with the many and varied duties facing the housekeeping staff with the increased enrollment at the college.

Billy Watson, director of Residential Living for Men, commented, “Joel has been like a breath of fresh air for the Student Services area. He is quick to make friends and the students know and love him. In the Student Services office, he knows each employee’s role and makes sure that we all get the job done.”

Joel is active in his church, Blue Ridge Baptist Church. He sings in the church choir, plays the drums and tambourine, is an ordained deacon, and participates on the Impact Prayer Team.

While at the Washington Center (the secondary school for the mentally challenged students), he was featured for eight years on the national CNN News for his accomplishments over his handicaps.

While not working at North Greenville, Joe spends spare time enjoying gospel music on his stereo. According to his dad, he takes every opportunity to make a new friend. Mr. Dill commented, “Joel never meets a stranger. He loves the Lord and is eager to witness to any person he meets.”

Article reprinted with permission from The Greer Citizen in the September 1996 issue of North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.

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