Learning Inclusively . . .
Whenever I need to regroup and reorganize or reenergize, I make my way to the PLACE and MAP classrooms at Memorial. In these programs, we have some of the most amazing young people in our building. Many of these students face daily challenges that we can only imagine, and yet they are so welcoming, so trusting and one of the best things in my day.
Over the last few weeks, I have been trying to wrap my brain around inclusive education and what it really means to me. As a Special Needs Coordinator I truly believe that inclusion is about doing what is right for each individual student, finding the best opportunities for all. As a classroom teacher, I believe that an inclusive environment means encouraging a student to be the best they can, while remembering that fair isn’t always equal. As a part of MCHS, I believe that students and staff do not need a definition of inclusion written out for them, it’s just the way we do things.
A few weeks ago MCHS Student Leadership held one of their first dances in quite a few years. PLACE staff members offered to stay after school to escort a few of our students to the dance. Cosmetology students offered to do hair and nails, the students had dinner together, and planned to dance the night away. We were having a great time before we even got to the dance.
I was so proud of all our students that night. The PLACE students hardly sat down. They danced their feet off, having the time of their lives. Throughout the evening they were surrounded by their peers, asked to join in dance circles, and were welcomed completely. Many new friendships were forged.
One of the greatest things about working with Special Needs students is being able to witness the wonderful effect that these amazing young people can have on the lives of their peers and those around them.
At Memorial, inclusion happens. It isn’t an ideal that we are moving towards, it is the life that we lead. There is a place for everyone here, which is truly a great thing.
Marsie is currently the Special Needs Coordinator at MCHS. I am also lucky to teach some math and spend time with students through Leadership and Rugby. Looking forward to working with students and staff as a Learning coach with PSD.