(Fredericton, NB) – “Helping every learner, every day, in every way.” That was the theme of this year’s National Inclusive Education Awards ceremony, which took place at Government House today. Introduced by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) in 2007, the awards recognize New Brunswick individuals, schools and organizations that work consistently and constantly to include all students in education and school life.
The ceremony was organized by the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL) on behalf of CACL. The Honourable Jocelyne Roy Vienneau, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick and the patron of NBACL, hosted the event, which is the focal point for celebrations marking National Inclusive Education Month.
A total of six awards were presented this year, with Her Honour Jocelyne Roy Vienneau and NBACL’s president Moira Wilson conferring the parchments. The recipients of the awards represented the continuum of inclusion throughout the educational cycle: the director in an early learning and child care centre; two educational assistants, a teacher and a teaching team working in the K-12 system; and two members of staff with the New Brunswick Community College system.
“These six honorees inspired the theme for this year’s celebration,” said Moira Wilson as she opened the awards ceremony. “We’re gathered here to recognize their unwavering positivity when it comes to including every student in an educational setting. These people don’t just talk the talk about helping every learner, every day, in every way, they walk the walk, too, always extending themselves to be the best they can be for their students.”
Krista Carr, NBACL’s Executive Director and the co-presenter for the ceremony, remarked: “We know the job of educating any student is challenging at the best of times, and there are many people in our education system who are rising to the task. It is heartening to see the number of high-quality nominations we received again this year, as it tells us that more and more teachers and institutions are adopting inclusive practices. We thank the nominators for bringing these dedicated and committed individuals to our attention. Thanks, too, to all those who allowed their names to stand for an award, and who are doing a great job implementing inclusive practices in their classrooms and institutions.
“This ceremony recognizes those who go that extra mile, above and beyond, to change the lives of the children, young adults and families they work with; those who are always positive about the potential of each student, no matter how challenging their disability,” Carr added.
“The success stories we heard about today are indeed inspiring, but there is still much work to be done to make education in New Brunswick truly inclusive,” Carr noted after the presentations had been made. “We, and their colleagues and supervisors, hold up the award recipients we’ve honoured today as the hallmark of inclusion, illustrating that it is possible and it is worth the effort.”
NBACL Board President Moira Wilson added: “We are pleased to be able to showcase why, and how, inclusive education is so effective and important. It is about leveraging the collective strengths of educators, students, parents, and the community for the betterment of all.”
The Canadian Association for Community Living has been recognizing the outstanding inclusive practices of individuals working in Canada’s education system annually since 2007, with local provincial and territorial community living associations charged with accepting nominations and selecting recipients.
The New Brunswick Association for Community Living has proudly organized the New Brunswick presentation of the awards since their inception. The awards ceremony has become the focal point for celebrations marking National Inclusive Education Month.
Founded in 1957 by parents whose children were not legally allowed an education in our public schools, NBACL has evolved and grown over the past 60 years and now works on initiatives that touch almost every aspect of the lives of people who have an intellectual disability.
The New Brunswick recipients of the 2017 National Inclusive Education Awards are:
Jodi Hennessey, Director of Education at Kings Valley Early Education Centre in Quispamsis, a true champion of children’s rights who excels at implementing inclusive practices and is a resource for many in the field of inclusive early childhood learning.
Maxine Brewer, a Grade Four teacher at Keswick Valley Memorial School, who nominators say is “that” teacher — the one the students adore and teachers aspire to be like – with close to 30 years of dedication and motivation to go above and beyond to make sure all of her students are included and receive an education that matches their individual needs.
The K-2 level teaching team at Keswick Ridge School – Karen Howland, Melissa Chetwynd, Heidi LeBlanc, Michelle Boreland and Celinda Crandall – for their extraordinary choice to co-teach four multi-age classrooms, each with a mix of Kindergarten, Grade One and Grade Two students of varying abilities.
Josée Thériault and Lyne Lizotte, Education Assistants at École Grande-Rivière in Saint-Léonard, for their dedicated teamwork assuring that two sisters with both physical and intellectual disabilities are included in all aspects of school life, and for helping both girls achieve significant physical, intellectual and academic milestones.
Darlene Travers, Learning Specialist at NBCC-Miramichi, a champion of all NBCC students and their right to barrier-free, safe, inclusive education, who constantly works to include all students in college life and to assure that students have access to the supports and services they need.
Chris Harris, College Registrar for the NBCC system, an exceptional leader with a passion for seeing students succeed, a driving force behind creating an inclusive environment throughout the New Brunswick community college system, and an avid advocate for supports that would give students every opportunity to achieve their full potential.