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Highlights from Inclusive Education Month

Every weekday for the month of February, Inclusive Education Canada has been featuring daily commentaries from parents, teachers and academics that portray how the development of inclusive schools and inclusive school practices help to provide quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students with an intellectual disability. 

You can read all the inspiring commentaries featured during National Inclusive Education Month here.

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Angela Aucoin, PhD, is a university professor in Moncton New Brunswick in the field of inclusive education. She shared her story with readers of how in awe she is of what school principals can accomplish.

“As leaders, [principals] have the opportunity to change not only their school culture but the culture of their entire community. When principals learn about the philosophy and the practices of inclusive education, more and more teachers and parents reach out and ask how they can make it happen.” 

“Working on a daily basis with these leaders, I am reminded that it is not necessarily the system that makes or breaks the possibility of inclusive education. It is the people who manage the schools that make the difference! The high school principals who make inclusion work share common traits. They all have a collective approach to problem solving. They believe that their teachers have the capacity to let each of their students shine. They creatively seek solutions to prevent challenging situations from becoming a crisis. But most of all, I have learned that these principals have one characteristic in common – a passion for success!”

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Amy Kipfer, is a special education consultant, who has worked over the last four years to make the Avon Maitland District School Board one of the most inclusive in the country. 

Amy discusses how the school board stopped admitting students with intellectual disabilities to self-contained classes and instead started including all students in regular classrooms. Amy was coordinator of the Learning for All program. This program was made up of 15 teachers who adopted a coaching model that would have support teachers in classrooms in all our schools. Through the assistance of teachers in the program, teachers were able to ask questions and provide the best learning experience they could for all students.

“Our teachers and administrators are increasingly using the ‘inclusion lens’ to plan instruction and programming as well as assessment and evaluation. The same approach is used to plan school events, field trips of inclusion and other activities. Our teaching staff have a renewed understanding of why it is important for all students to access regular classrooms. They are experiencing first hand the benefits students get when they participate in a fully inclusive secondary school.”

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Janet Charchuk, is the President of PEI People First and a motivational speaker. She shared her story about how beneficial inclusive education has been in her life, even during challenging times. She discusses the various factors that helped her have a positive educational experience from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

“Some of my friends have told me that including me helped motivate them to do their best and made them better people. Inclusive education helps people who have challenges but more importantly it helps everybody to have an awesome education experience.”