Rhonda Magee and Ellen Higgins, National Inclusive Education Award Recipients for 2020

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Rhonda Magee & Ellen Higgins, Kindergarten Teachers at Hazen White-St. Francis School in Saint John

Rhonda Magee and Ellen Higgins foster an atmosphere of belonging and respect in their classrooms.

The teachers collaborate as a team to formulate a plan by assessing each child’s strengths, focusing on what each child can do, and tailor their teaching to each student to motivate and encourage them depending on each child’s preferences. They plan engaging and fun ways for students of multiple learning styles to be successful in not only their learning, but their autonomy in choosing the way they want to participate in class. Rhonda and Ellen plan lessons around topics the students choose and are interested in. This has allowed all students to take ownership of their learning, and be successful.

Rhonda and Ellen go above and beyond to include all students not only in their classroom, but in the school environment as well. Their ability to engage students and their families strengthens the partnership between home and school, optimizing student achievement.

The teachers also worked to develop a personalized learning progress system inspired by Super Mario that made students excited to “level up” and improved learning outcomes for all students, providing more focused one-on-one instruction on specific literacy and numeracy skills. As a result, the students have not only become excited and involved in their own learning as they focus on what theycan do, but frequently celebrate their peers when they “level up.”

Under Rhonda and Ellen’s instruction, student achievement and learning outcomes have increased for all students, and attendance has also improved because students are so excited and involved in their own learning. Focusing on what their students can do, instead of what they can’t, has made all the difference. Rhonda and Ellen have truly created an inclusive classroom community.

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