Working with Special Needs Students is a Family Affair
Jerome Price has a passion for working with special needs students and athletes. “It’s very rewarding. They show you love. They’re always happy to see you,” said Price.
His passion started at a young age while growing up in San Diego, California. Price remembers people making fun of his cousin, who had Prader-Willi syndrome. As Price got older, he would spend every summer working at a special needs camp. He went on to earn his associate degree in early childhood education, and has since turned his passion into a full-time job. Price is an educational assistant at Rock Canyon High School (RCHS). He works tirelessly as an aide to students with significant special needs (SSN).
“I just try to do my best and make kids happy in the program. I treat them as if they were my kids,” said Price.
Price and his wife of 22 years, April, have four sons ranging in age from 17 to 22. The couple has instilled strong family values in their children. The oldest two followed in their father’s footsteps and also work in the SSN program at RCHS.
“Having my kids work with me made it even better. That put a smile on my face. My kids recognized what I do,” said Price.
Price is also a unified sports coach, giving students with disabilities the opportunity to compete on the same team with general education students. “What I’m trying to do here is change the culture at Rock Canyon,” said Price.
The Colorado High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) recently recognized Price with the Tom Southall Adaptive Sports Award at the CHSCA Hall of Fame banquet on March 26.
“I was very humbled and blessed. I do a lot and feel honored to be recognized for this,” said Price.
Price is the 10th recipient of the Tom Southall Award. The award started in 2014 and is given to a coach who helps foster excellence in sports whatever the challenge.
Sports have always been an important part of Price’s life. He graduated from University City High School in San Diego, being recognized as an all-state wide receiver following his senior season. He also competed in basketball and track and field, setting a national record in the long jump. He was recognized as the 1990 San Diego Athlete of the Year and in 2010 he was selected in the San Diego CIF Hall of Fame as one of the all-time 50 athletes in history.
On or off the field, Price lives by the hashtag #WeRjustlikeU giving the students he works with a chance to try anything, despite their disabilities.
“Whatever they want to do, I’m all in,” said Price. “We can still play basketball, soccer or kickball. We breathe the same; we bleed the same. Some of us have a disability, and some of us don’t.”
By Mindy Stone; photo courtesy of Jerome Price