LAKEWOOD, Ohio — There's a classroom at Lakewood High School that's open to everybody, and everything.
It's called Creatures in the Classroom. Special education teacher, Cory Streets, started it a few years ago. He used money out of his own pocket to get it off the ground. Since then, the community has stepped up to keep it going.
Streets told us his classroom is comparable to a "reptile zoo."
"We have mice, we have rats, we have bugs, we have snakes and lizards and turtles, and frogs and everything. It's been a lot of fun," Streets said.
Mr. Streets' students have a lot of responsibilities in the classroom.
"It's become part of the schedule, so every day, they have feeding and cleaning, and they have job boards that they follow. And, we spend time playing with the animals and everything," Streets said.
The program, according to Streets, started with lessons about science. But, it's become much bigger. Now, the students are learning lessons about life.
"They're learning empathy with the animals, which is something we really try and teach in the special (education) classroom. They're learning routines; they're learning new jobs," Streets said.
The kids aren't just bonding with their animal friends. The creatures are helping students to overcome issues that are sometimes too delicate for a human to touch.
"Luke has a lot of anxiety. And, so, when he can take a break and go back and just pick up Ronald, you can just see his body language relaxes," Streets said about one of his students, and his relationship with the class rat.
Mr. Streets has no plans on stopping the program.
"Somebody should probably tell me to stop at some point, but I want to keep going until they do," he said.
It's not just the students learning things. They are teaching Mr. Streets things, too.
"One of the biggest things I could learn from my students is patience and forgiveness.. These kids are just the most forgiving, most kind group of kids you've ever met … no matter what their personality is," Streets said. "I really hope down the road they'll look back and think, 'That was cool. That was fun. I learned something.'"
If you want to donate to the Creatures in the Classroom program, click HERE.