When it comes to inclusive education, one of the most important links in the chain is the teacher who teaches the teacher – the person who instructs future early learning and child care educators and K-12 teachers on how to see every child as an individual learner, and how to end exclusion in their centre, classroom or school.
“Where would we be without those dedicated instructors?” asked Danny Soucy, Executive Director of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL). “How would our future educators even know where to start to end exclusion without appropriate guidance and training?”
Soucy made these remarks at the recent 2018 National Inclusive Education Awards presentation, just before he introduced Nancy Hallihan-Sturgeon, one of seven of New Brunswick’s best “exclusion busters” to be honoured at a 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.
“Nancy Hallihan-Sturgeon is an instructor at the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) in Miramichi,” he said, “and we are honouring her today with a Certificate of Recognition for building a legacy for inclusive education in New Brunswick through the students she has taught.”
Heather Fowler, Department Head of Business, Health and Continuing Education at NBCC Miramichi, nominated Ms. Sturgeon for the award.
“Nancy creates an educational environment that fosters respect for inclusion and diversity.” Ms. Fowler wrote in her nomination, citing how the instructor integrates activities, speakers and projects in her classes to ensure that her students learn about and understand inclusive education before they enter the field as early childhood educators.
“In the Winter term, as part of the Inclusion course, Nancy regularly partners with NBACL to facilitate their Each Child Matters and Engage Reflect & Plan training, so that her students receive 48 hours towards the Association’s 60 hour certificate in Inclusive Education,” Fowler recounted.
She also “consistently and enthusiastically promotes and engages the students in various volunteer activities to promote inclusivity,” Fowler added, citing how Ms. Sturgeon has worked with her students to promote Orange Shirt Day and National Child Day.
“In the time I have known her, Nancy has truly demonstrated a passion for inclusive education,” Tammy Scott, NBCC Miramichi’s Department Head of Technology, Trades and Protective Services, wrote in support of the nomination. “She accepts every student as they are and works with them to ensure they reach their full potential.”
Annick Daigle, Coordinating Instructor for the College’s Early Childhood Education program, agreed.
“Nancy is a true ambassador for inclusion in our province. She has also enrolled in a course called the Medicine Wheel in order to have a better understanding of the Aboriginal culture. This will enable her students to be more informed about the culture and have a better understanding of the Aboriginal students in their classroom.”
“Nancy has consistently shown a commitment and passion for inclusive education that is both demonstrated in her teaching and is reflected in the students that go on into the profession,” Heather Fowler summed up.
“As a role model, she has the ability to affect the educational environment beyond her immediate classroom.”
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.
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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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