When the high school’s Resource and Methods Teacher is also the coach of the rugby team, or can be found in the cafeteria supervising the students’ noon-hour arm wrestling club, or trucks off to UNB with a full contingent of Best Buddy Club leaders, and their best buddies, you know she’s “all in” when it comes to being an integral part of the school’s inclusive practices.
Meet Nackawic Senior High School’s Mary Kim Schriver, one of seven of New Brunswick’s best “exclusion busters” to be honoured at the 2018 National Inclusive Education Awards ceremony held at Government House in Fredericton on Thursday, February 9. Presented by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), the certificates recognize individuals or groups that have made or are making an outstanding contribution to inclusive education in their province or territory. The event, organized by NBACL on behalf of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), is the focal point for celebrations marking National Inclusive Education Month.
When it came to nominating Ms. Schriver for the award, Sean Newlands, Nackawic High’s vice-principal, could easily check off all of the boxes on the nomination form.
“There are countless reasons [why] Mary Kim Schriver is a worthy candidate,” he wrote in his nomination. “Mary Kim is a champion of inclusion at Nackawic Senior High School. She is a staunch advocate for students who need extra support inside and outside of the classroom. She is passionate in her efforts to ensure that all students are valued and included. She is patient, caring, empathetic, and approachable, and she is an integral support for many students and staff members.”
Being completely committed to inclusive education at NHS, the fact that the school’s Best Buddies program wasn’t as active as it had once been caused Ms. Schriver concern. So last year, at the end of the school year, she encouraged a group of students to organize a noon-hour party with students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Recognizing that one token party wasn’t sufficient – that all students need to feel valued and included daily – during the first week of school this year she began her efforts to transform Best Buddies.
“She was able to engage a large number of student leaders to make inclusion a priority,” Mr. Newlands reported. “Under her leadership, in three short months, she has changed Best Buddies from a club that only organized sporadic events on special occasions, to a club that ensures inclusion is a core value of students and staff at NHS.
“The Resource and Methods classroom has become one of the busiest and most popular hangout areas in the school at noon, with students of all abilities playing games, eating together, or just hanging out.”
And then there’s that arm wrestling club.
“Mary Kim also finds opportunities to engage students who often lack a feeling of connectedness to the school, through the extra-curricular activities she offers,” Mr. Newslands explained. “She has been coaching rugby for many years at NHS. That’s a sport which attracts many non-traditional athletes at the school,” so teaming up with another staff member to offer a noon hour armwrestling is along the same lines.
“Mary Kim is able to attract many seemingly disenfranchised students to participate in these activities and uses the rapport she builds with them to help them feel more connected to the school and engaged in their learning.”
Mr. Newlands summed up his nomination this way:
“Mary Kim Schriver plays a huge role in fostering the positive learning environment we enjoy at Nackawic High School. Her commitment to ensuring student success, engagement, connections to the school and an inclusive atmosphere is unparalleled. She is devoted to ensuring that quality educational programming and extra-curricular activities are accessible to all students.”
The Canadian Association for Community Living has been recognizing outstanding inclusive practices in Canada’s education system annually since 2007, with provincial and territorial community living associations like NBACL charged with accepting nominations and selecting recipients.
NBACL is a provincial, non-profit organization that works on behalf of children and adults with an intellectual disability and their families to end exclusion and ensure that persons with an intellectual disability live, learn, work and participate in community as valued and contributing members.
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