May 16, 2023
FREDERICTON, N.B. – In a ceremony today at Government House, four New Brunswick educators were recognized with National Inclusive Education Awards for their exemplary leadership and unwavering dedication to inclusive education. The awards are presented annually in partnership with Inclusion Canada, with the teachers being nominated by their peers.
“These educators embody the values and principles of inclusive education on a daily basis,” says Tanya Whitney, President of Inclusion New Brunswick. “Their work exemplifies that when a student’s strengths and needs are the focus, incredible success is achievable.”
The awards highlight the integral role schools and their leadership have in ensuring our children feel welcome and valued. These educators champion and create spaces where everyone, no matter their abilities or sexual orientation and gender identity, feels safe and has the opportunity to contribute.
“These inspiring educators set the example for the values we want to see in our schools, our communities and our province,” says Sarah Wagner, Executive Director of Inclusion NB. “Inclusion is for all students and so, New Brunswick’s schools must be places where everyone belongs.”
The awards were presented by Lieutenant Governor Brenda Murphy at her official residence.
New Brunswick’s recipients of the 2023 National Inclusive Education Awards are:
Robert Roy-Boudreau is an innovative administrator at École Secondaire Népisiguit in Bathurst who is transforming the school’s culture. He has re-integrated a variety of learning options within the school, providing inclusion and skill-building opportunities for students. Under Mr. Roy-Boudreau’s guidance, physical locations in the school that were once segregated are now accessible for all. He ensures that all staff members, including educational assistants, are included in discussions and decision-making processes, fostering collaboration among the educational staff.
Breanna Saulnier is a teacher at Port Elgin Regional School. Ms. Saulnier has played an integral part in creating programs to support and empower students at the school. When she created a running club at her school, one of the students to sign up was a Grade 8 student with cerebral palsy. She was quick to explore what would be needed to include this student and made a special trip to Fredericton to pick up a trike for them. Ms. Saulnier also formed a group for 2SLGBTQIA+ students, inviting members from Mount Allison University as well. As a result, up to 20 students would convene over the lunch hour to share in the safe space she created.
Nathalie Sirois Caron of École Grande-Rivière in Saint Leonard firmly believes in leveraging each person’s strengths and never gives up on anyone. She focuses on creating an environment where support and resources are tailored to the needs of each child, promoting participation and inclusion for all students. She models teaching structures that accommodate diverse learning styles and paces, supporting teachers in meeting their students’ individual needs. Her efforts to promote inclusion have shown success, as seen in a recent initiative where a teacher independently modified their classroom to include a diverse student. Additionally, Ms. Sirois Caron prioritizes inclusivity for sexual and gender diversity, actively advocating for 2SLGBTQIA+ students and their families while advancing the cause of inclusion.
Tyler Wood is a physical education teacher at Magnetic Hill School in Moncton. Mr. Wood is intentional in his approach and seeks out activities for every student to make sure they are included. For example, he has one student with autism spectrum disorder and who is also blind. Mr. Wood is always finding new ways to include them and encourage physical movement. During the “Mission Impossible” obstacle course, he creates challenges for all students to experience the course in the same way their classmate does.
Inclusion NB is introducing a new award this year in honour of Dr. David Jory who passed away in February.
“David’s commitment to our province’s inclusion movement is significant. He has been an active member of the Saint John Association for Community Living, Inclusion NB and Inclusion Canada. He volunteered on several committees for Inclusion NB and was a great contributor to our social policy work,” says Wagner. “We wanted to create a way of honouring his legacy for years to come.”
In 1985, a group of New Brunswick parents mounted a legal challenge using the Canadian Charter of Rights. They knew it was a contravention of children’s rights to segregate those with a disability from being educated alongside their peers. Dr. Jory, the father of a boy who has Down Syndrome, was a key member of these trailblazers. He stanchly believed that children with an intellectual disability could have an education on an equal basis with others and be included.
At today’s ceremony, Dr. Jory’s son, John Jory, accepted the award on his behalf. In subsequent years, the Dr. David Jory Award will be bestowed upon a New Brunswicker who exemplifies his beliefs and values and advocates to continuously improve New Brunswick’s educational system.