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Special Education

Director of Special Education
Barry Nemec

541-524-2260, ext. 1040

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Marla’s Mall / Bulldog Blender / Bulldog Bubbles:

Hours: Monday - Thursday, 8-11 AM and 1-4 PM and are subject to change, closed holidays, no appointments necessary

The Baker 5J Special Education Department sponsors a unique opportunity for our local high school students to learn work skills, gain work experience, and participate in credit recovery and/or Extended School Year by working in one or more of our student-run businesses: The Bulldog Blender, Bulldog Bubbles, and Marla’s Mall, collectively known as The Bulldog Businesses.

The Bulldog Blender sells blended drinks the last 15 minutes of lunch and after school and is a great way to learn to work under pressure, handle cash, and a variety of other skills.  Time worked is tracked, and employees earn Blender Bucks that can be used on field trips or for drinks. 

Bulldog Bubbles is a school-based laundry business that works alongside Marla’s Mall and provides the same opportunities for our 5J high school students. A commercial washer and dryer were purchased with a grant; and while the students and staff are not professionals, they do the district’s laundry, several local businesses, and some from the general public (by appointment), all for a small charge. Monies collected from both the Blender and Bubbles are used to purchase supplies, fund projects, hire students, and allow the students to learn money management.

Marla’s Mall is a unique thrift store that is named in honor of a former BHS teacher whom we lost to cancer in 2007. Marla Cavallo was a Health and P.E. teacher who knew not only how to teach, but how to set a good standard for others; this facility endeavors to follow her example by helping to meet the needs of our students and the people in our community.  Originally started in order to provide for student needs at BHS, a few odds and ends of clothing were kept in the BHS Learning Center for the kids; however, Marla’s Mall officially began in 2009 when Kim Virtue and Tammy Pearce brainstormed and realized the collection could help a lot more people. The clothing was moved to Marla’s old classroom and named for her. When the space became too small, the entire store was moved to North Baker Elementary, where it continued to grow and include much more than clothing. It was moved temporarily to 3110 10th when space was needed for The Baker Early Learning Center, and has now found a home in the brick building between Baker High School (2500 E Street) and the football stadium.  Everything is free of charge to anyone, regardless of income; however, we emphasize that items should not be taken for resale. Organizations, churches, and individuals are able to use what we have to offer, which includes hygiene items, interview appropriate clothing, housewares, and more. Some items are reserved for families/individuals who have suffered a fire or other emergency. Items such as sleeping bags and backpacks are also set aside.  We are able to do this because Bakers School District provides the building, electricity, staffing, etc. to provide for the class, and the donations are supplied by the community.  Cash donations from the public and a Community 101 grant are used to buy hygiene supplies or other needed items.

Last but not least, is the opportunity for summer employment and Extended School Year. Funds earned in The Blender and Bubbles are used to hire a limited number of students during the summer, further adding to their resumes and experience, and creating an opportunity to learn needed skills with job applications and interviews. Those students participating in an extended school year get a chance to use core skills in a more relaxed atmosphere and can also participate with the businesses.

This program is headed by Special Education Director Barry Nemec and overseen by the high school Learning Center teacher.  For questions or other information, please contact Susan Myers at 541-524-2309 or message her at Marla’s Mall Community on Facebook.