Models of Excellence in EDUCATION

The Exceptional Parent, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Models of Excellence in EDUCATION


This year's Models of Excellence in Education celebrate inclusion--in the classroom, on the job, and in the community. We have heard from schools that have welcomed children with disabilities into their classrooms and their lives; programs that teach both children and their parents; students who act as advocates for their classmates; and students with disabilities who learn job skills at school and go on to become valued members of the workforce. Inclusion is a word that is often used in the special needs community. It is wonderful to see this word put into action through the hard work of so many caring individuals, teachers and students alike. In addition to specific educational programs, we have also received a number of tributes to teaching professionals. We have included them here as "Exceptional Educators." We invite our readers to continue to thank teachers and other special professionals by sending in their nominations for Exceptional Professionals. Thanks to everyone who participated in submitting their nominations, and congratulations on outstanding programs!

--The Editors

Harold Schnell Elementary School * West Carrollton, OH

Nominated by Barbara E. Shanahan

EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATIONAL PROFESSIONALS

Above and Beyond

Schnell Elementary School has done an excellent job in accommodating my daughter Emily, 11, who has cerebral palsy, and investing in her education from the first day of kindergarten.

We all have learned so much from each other. They have provided Emily with a toilet seat, ramps for access to recess time and for emergencies, a laptop computer, printer, software, scanner for class assignments, a stander, and more. Emily is in the classroom full-time and has achieved A's and B's. The occupational and physical therapists come in to advise for positioning concerns and valuable adaptive ideas for use in the classroom. We provided her desk from home.

At the start of each school year, homeroom teachers have taken Emily into their classes (wheelchair, desk, and stander) with the same level of expectations as they have for other students. The teachers have soared with adaptive ideas for Emily in the classroom. When Emily has struggled with a concept or subject, the teachers go the extra mile to help Emily gain the self-confidence needed in order to apply the material being taught. The teachers hold meetings and talk honestly with us as parents on areas where we need to let Emily do more for herself for greater independence.

During the IEP, we state that Emily should be in regular classes for art, music, and gym. We leave it up to the teachers how classwork can be adapted for Emily. With the help of her attendant, Emily creates art and learns about its history. With the help of a friend, Emily played a solo song on a recorder. In gym, she plays soccer and actually made a goal with her wheelchair! Mr. Stebbins and Mrs. Hulgan take Emily out of her wheelchair to do therapy exercises and reward her with pizza coupons. Emily tried out for Student Council Representative and won in both second and fourth grade. She served as an alternate on the Student Council in the third grade. At the start of 5th grade, Emily tried out for Safety Patrol and has served throughout the year in the mornings every other week.

In December of 1995 Emily had hip surgery and was in a body cast for 8 weeks. The Schnell staff welcomed Emily in class the whole time she was in her cast! Emily did not fall behind in her studies and her days were not so long while in the body cast, since she could attend school.

I am thankful for Mrs. Phiffner and Mrs. Hill because they were able to identify Emily's learning style and strengths. They see Emily as a student with potential.

Phoenicia Elementary School * Phoenicia, NY

Nominated by Debra Lloyd

Willingness, Team Spirit, and Awareness at Phoenicia Elementary

Two years ago I nominated Phoenicia Elementary School as a model of excellence for inclusion.

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