By Tammy Dunbar, Principal & Heather Hogan, Vice Principal; Meduxnekeag Consolidated School, Woodstock, NB
We have been proud to welcome visitors from around the world into our district and into our schools for the past 30 years to “see the great things we are doing with inclusion”. Amazing!
The elements of making our visitors feel welcome are the same as the elements of facilitating inclusion in our building. A belief that it is right to have all boys and girls attend school in their home communities with their peers and be supported by a team of well educated, dedicated and tireless adults who will make it happen!
Our work with children and their parents begins before the child enters our school system. With the assistance of Early Childhood Educators, Social Workers, Autism Workers, Physiotherapists, Occupational Health Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists and any other outside agency, we develop a plan for transitioning the student into the public system. We recognize that everyone has something to contribute to the success of the transition but we also understand that for some parents, the whole process can be daunting.
Throughout the child’s school experience, it is essential that we build a climate of trust, collaboration and communication with our parents and involve them in the planning of their child’s educational journey. Each child’s experience will look different because the supports, plan, teaching strategies and individual needs are specific to that child.
Administrators, Resource Teachers, and Education Assistants are the base of supporting children and their parents as they enter the daunting 13 years of school life. As the child advances through each grade level, their specific educational plan is adjusted or modified in consultation with the educators, agencies and the parents to reflect growth or changes in their needs.
Professional development and training for teachers and educational assistants is essential to keep everyone up to date on current practices and best practices for students with a specific diagnosis or those who have individual needs.
It is truly a pleasure to see the growth of individual students throughout their years with us. We believe that if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward. There is no standing still in education.
In closing, parents know their child best. School personnel know school the best. The two, working together, give a balanced perspective for success in school.
Tammy Dunbar is principal and Heather Hogan is the vice-principal of the Meduxnekeag Consolidated School in Woodstock, New Brunswick. They have both been teachers, resource teachers, and district level specialists in inclusive education. They have shared their wealth of experiences with teachers they work with in their school as well as visitors from afar.