(Fredericton, NB) – The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) recognized ten New Brunswick individuals, schools and organizations with 2013 Inclusive Education Awards today during a ceremony at Government House. Eight of the certificates honoured educators, students, schools and others who work every day to include all students in education and school life. Two special awards were also presented to David Jory of Saint John and Julie Stone of Fredericton in recognition for their life-long work and achievements for inclusive education in New Brunswick, across Canada and around the world.
Founded in 1957 by parents whose children were not legally allowed an education in our public schools, the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL) has evolved over the past 57 years and now works on initiatives that touch almost every aspect of the lives of people who have an intellectual disability, one of which is inclusive education.
The ceremony, which was organized by NBACL and hosted by the Honourable Graydon Nicholas, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick and the patron of NBACL, it was the association’s focal point for celebrations marking National Inclusive Education Month. His Honour Graydon Nicholas, the Honourable Marie-Claude Blais, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, and NBACL president Joy Bacon, made the presentations.
The people who were celebrated today “are making a significant impact in the lives of individuals and communities through their contributions and through their example,” said Joy Bacon, president of NBACL, in her opening remarks.
“Since Inclusive Education was legislated in 1986, I have witnessed the progress we have made in ensuring that every child reaches their fullest potential,” she said. “Our journey has not been an easy one.
“We thank those who worked diligently in their stewardship of protecting and upholding the rights of all children,” said Mrs. Bacon.
The awards conferred this year represented the continuum of inclusion throughout the educational cycle for New Brunswick children and young adults, recognizing a early learning and childcare centre director, an educational assistant, a Grade 5 teacher, a middle school teacher, a high school sports team, a K to 12 school/ community centre, an organization that supports persons with a disability and a community college counsellor.
“We still know that there is much work to be done,” she added. “We recognize that there are children who, because of their label, still struggle to be included, valued and accepted. It is my sincere hope that we continue to work together, parents, teachers, administrators, government and others, to ensure that every student has the opportunity to benefit from one of the world’s best educational systems.”
The 20134Inclusive Education Awards celebrated some of those New Brunswickers who have embraced inclusion and contribute to the continuous improvement to that system. They are:
Owner/operator of PolkaDots and Bowties Daycare Facility
Jennifer Robinson and PolkaDots and Bowties Daycare Facility were awarded an Inclusive Education Award for their commitment to going above and beyond to ensure that each child in their care reaches their full potential.
At PolkaDots, all the staff works collaboratively with families, early learning and childcare teachers, support staff and para-professionals to ensure that each child establishes a strong foundation for the future.
The nominator for this award, Kelly Naish, NBACL’s Early Learning and Inclusion Facilitator, says this about PolkaDots, “It is never a feeling of “if they can,” it is, “Let’s try it! Look. You did it…I knew you could!”
Educational Assistant, Gagetown School
Linda Sullivan was chosen for an Inclusive Education Award for her thoughtful approach to supporting her students, for making all students feel valued and equal to their peers and for her ability to create valuable relationships within the school and the community.
Parents are naturally protective of their children, but when you have a child with a rare condition that not only limits her mobility, but can get worse with any kind of muscle trauma, you’re going to be extra careful and concerned! That’s how Renee Houlihan felt about her daughter, Riley, when she enrolled the five-year-old in Gagetown School. Her fears were soon allayed, though, thanks to Linda Sullivan, Riley’s EA. For the past four and a half years, Linda’s diligence, both during and after school, has kept Riley safe, while still allowing her to blossom into a confidant, accomplished student.
Intensive French Teacher, Grade 5, Champlain Heights School
Saint John, NB
Jennifer Goad-Casey received an Inclusive Education Award for her passion for knowledge and for inspiring a culture of acceptance and inclusion in her school.
“Students will remember how a teacher will make them feel long after they’ve forgotten the lessons.” This quote rings true for Jennifer Goad-Casey. When she learned that her next class of students would include a girl with a visual disability, Ms. Goad-Casey embraced the new challenge enthusiastically, adapting her lessons to accommodate the student’s use of Braille and including the student in all aspects of the classroom experience. The student thrived. Now, when it comes to classroom activities, when once this child would have said “I can’t,” she is now saying “Let’s try!”
Mathematics and Science Teacher, Grades 7 and 8, École Versant-Nord
Danielle Thibault has received an Inclusive Education Award in recognition of her ability to instill the values of inclusive education in her students and among her peers, and for her belief in ensuring the success of all students.
Jody Elsigar, Resource teacher at École Versant-Nord, says this of Ms. Thibault, “Danielle promotes a climate of belonging and respect in her classroom. She treats all of her students with dignity. She jumped in with both feet with “differentiation.” She was one of the first at Versant-Nord to apply differentiation to her practice. Right from the beginning, she didn’t think it was the new fad, but it was a great way to respond to student differences.”
Ms. Thibault is respected for an approach to teaching that is so seamless that it is often difficult to identify which students in her classroom are on a specialized education program.
The Swim Team members at Simonds High School
Simonds High School
Saint John, NB
The Swim Team at Simonds High School was honoured with an Inclusive School Team award for their ability to demonstrate that all students can participate in every aspect of school life.
Many of us can remember Phys Ed class when it came time to pick teams and that sinking feeling of being chosen last. The world of competitive sport can sometimes be a world of rivalries and personal bests, but for the Simonds High School Swim Team, competitive sport is a world where everyone has an opportunity to participate and to be their best, and none of its members have had to go through that awful Phys Ed class experience
In his many years of coaching, Mark Murchison has never refused a student from joining. He will stop at nothing to ensure the success of his students, including enlisting the aid of others to provide support when needed. This includes not only fellow teammates, but also the school’s resource and guidance team or an Educational Assistant or other outside professionals.
The result is a wonderful bond among all the team members, where everyone’s successes are celebrated.
Équipe école de l’école La Croisée/The entire school team at l’école La Croisée
The team at École La Croisée has received CACL’s Moving Toward Inclusion Award for the remarkable effort they have put into become an inclusive school, improving every aspect, from exploring and implementing educational best practices to adopting new teaching methods to enhancing their school culture.
“Inclusive education includes everyone.” Most people would interpret that to mean “includes all students.” Not so at École La Croisée in Roberstville. In that school, “everyone” means every person who works, teaches and learns within the school walls – not only the teachers, administrators, educational assistants, resource teachers, librarians, health care specialists and students, but also the custodian, the secretaries, the bus driver, the cafeteria worker – EVERYONE! One example is how everyone at the school works to ensure that all students experience a common learning environment. This means that in whatever milieu a class is being taught, whether it is in the classroom or on a school field trip to a museum, every effort is made to ensure that all children can be present.
Services aux élèves ayant une perte auditive/Services for students who have hearing loss
Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Fredericton, NB
An Inclusive Education Award was presented to this team of educators and technicians for their ability to empower students, families and teachers with knowledge and supports and for their innovative approach to inclusive education.
The only program of its kind in Canada, Services aux élèves ayant une perte auditive has made many contributions to ensuring that children who are deaf or hard of hearing are fully included and participating in their schools and their communities.
The Service provides early intervention, if possible, within a child’s first three years or as soon as the child receives a diagnosis. The staff works with parents and the student to offer interventions when necessary and help empower the students by providing them with information and strategies to become independent.
Other contributions they have made over the past 25 years include developing training, including online courses. In 2012, they added an audiologist to the team, and they continue to research and implement new technology and provide training for teachers and educational assistants to use it.
Counsellor, New Brunswick Community College, Moncton, NB
Wayne Milner was honoured with a CACL Inclusive Education Award for the groundbreaking work he has done with NBCC, not only by inspiring a culture of inclusion on campus but also by promoting and leading in the development of the necessary procedures and services to support and ensure it.
Known as a trail blazer, Mr. Milner has worked for more than 23 years, helping to ensure the inclusion of students with a disability who were coming up through the Community College system. He was the first to work on individualized plans for students with a disability to ensure their success in their chosen field.
Mr. Milner inspired students to achieve great heights, even in the face of doubt. It was through his strengths-based approach that students were able to graduate and grow in so many other ways. A testimony to the impact he has had on these students is the fact that, many of them return to campus just to visit him and say “Hello,” and “Thank you.”
Retired Educator/Consultant – Nackawic
Julie Stone was honoured with a Special Recognition Award by CACL for her career as a gifted teacher and a builder of New Brunswick’s inclusive educational system.
Mrs. Stone is first and last an exceptional teacher, a teacher with the commitment to go the extra distance to make a difference in the lives of her students. That commitment led to her establishing one of the finest private kindergartens in the province, to becoming one of New Brunswick’s first “Method and Resource” teachers, and to offering training and building capacity for inclusive schools throughout the province, across Canada, in the US and abroad, including Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua. Mrs. Stone has served several roles with NBACL, including president, and was director, and later national president, of CACL. Throughout her career, Julie Stone HAS made a difference.
Parent, advocate of community living, professor (retired), Saint John, NB
David Jory’s contribution to the community living movement in New Brunswick, Canada and around the world was also recognized a Special Recognition Award from CACL.
Dr. Jory has dedicated a significant portion of his life to championing human rights and citizenship for persons with an intellectual disability. His creative and forward thinking approach has led to many accomplishments that were instrumental in moving the goals of community living forward significantly. One was the role he played in the early 1980s to achieve the introduction of Bill 85, legislation that amended the Schools Act to ensure that children and youth with a disability had the right to participate in regular classrooms alongside their age peers. As Joy Bacon, president of NBACL, has said of Dr. Jory:
“He sees opportunities that others do not see, and he was willing to take risks and move forward in areas far before others were. He is always on the edge of the most progressive ways to look at the issues of persons with disabilities and enabling their full citizenship.”
Complete profiles of all ten 2014 Nation Inclusive Education Awards are available upon request.
New Brunswick Association for Community Living
Senior Consultant to NBACL