Sisters Maja Watkins and April Rasmussen grew up with a brother, Zack, who is on the Autism spectrum. Though very high functioning, for a time he was totally non-verbal. April and Maja became experts on Zack’s needs in order to help support him as he learned to interact with the world around him; a world that was very difficult to access. However, as Zack grew up, he found his voice through writing and has maintained a blog (Clashing with Life) for more than eight years!
It was this ability to communicate that gave Zack greater confidence, gave him a way to interact with a world he had been previously cut off from, and gave him access to information so he could grow and learn. Zack was later able to attend college, study information technology, and has a steady job that he takes great pride in.
Both women were inspired by their brother and both decided to pursue careers in education: Maja studied early childhood development with a focus on special needs, and April pursued secondary language arts with a focus on English language learners. Zip Zap Zop Enrichment originally began in 2011 after Maja, a graduate of The Second City Improv program, was working in a special needs classroom. She found that many of her improv techniques engaged students who were otherwise unreachable. April became a credentialed English teacher in 2008 and has seen the consequences of high school level students who are not comfortable communicating, whether that be students with special needs or students learning English as a second language.
Zip Zap Zop Enrichment believes communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is the gateway for all learning, for all students, regardless of subject area. Our goal is to improve communication skills and thus provide greater access for students with special needs in an inclusive classroom, but also improve learning outcomes for all students. Our teaching philosophy is that a truly good teaching practice benefits all students, so by finding ways to support and include students with special needs, all students benefit as well.