'The Miracle Factory' helps special needs students excel beyond high school


    Student makes tshirt at Burleson Center (news4 photo)<br>

    For many, Edgewood ISD is the pride of the westside.

    A school district that is rich in both history, and promise. Because at the heart of both, are the students.

    "I see students as endless possibilities."

    Sarah Minner has that vision. She is the district's special education specialist. And when she says students, she means all students.

    "We do unique things, after graduation, and if students need transitional skills, they come to Burleson Center."

    Ah the Burleson Center for Innovation and Education.

    Otherwise known as the miracle factory.

    "For us--represents grit of community--what kids accomplish, the daily struggles, belief in community--lead to successful whatever path they choose."

    The Burleson Center is more than a building, or a school. It's a gateway to life for young adults with special needs, by creating an environment where teenagers can learn all sorts of marketable skills.

    Inside are shops that make tshirts, repair bikes. There's a retail store for second-hand items. A coffee bar now, and a restaurant that is coming soon.

    Best part of all, it's the students that work there.

    "Bike breaks down--you can come and have students work on it. We look at jobs at open--can they fill that need, and if not--what can we do to bridge that gap--so students become next employees."

    Joe Hinojosa is the district's director of special education. He's also the heartbeat of the place.

    "It's about showing up. You got to bring it everyday."

    He feeds off the energy--from the kids, the staff. And it creates an atmosphere of learning and ultimately living.

    "Our goal is to create business that kids can become employed and we pay them and become the next work force for edgewood school district."

    Burleson offers a variety of services to students who are differently challenged. Programs that include assistance with autism, behavior management and services to the visually impaired.

    But the help goes beyond just one student or one family. Because at it's core, the Burleson Center is about one community. Edgewood.

    "Edgewood is 16 mile radius--no need for people to go outside to get things done..if we can find niche, it's community environment--pumping back into economy in own area. That's huge and important."

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