Inclusion Success Stories
A Student’s Story:
Travis came home from school one day last year with a message in his communication book, he was voted by the student council in his school to become an honorary member. Known by his friends as the “King,” Travis, a 3rd grader who has Down Syndrome, was honored to represent his school. Student council meetings are held every other Tuesday. His mom, who had to drive him to school early those days, said that “those were the days that it was easiest to get him to school, he loved being able to spend time with the kids.” Travis was required to meet the same goals that his fellow council members had to; he did all of the projects and participated in all of the student council activities. Travis did not have a paraprofessional assist him at council. The faculty advisor for the student council, who nominated him for the position, was one of Travis’ special education teachers. With the support of his teacher who had experience working with Travis and assistance from the other students, he was able to do well in council. He had the chance to meet other students in his school, and the other students had the opportunity to get to know him too. The other members enjoyed having him on the council. His mom said, “When we were around town, students knew Travis and they would all say hi and ask him how he was doing. It was great that he had the opportunity to be included in this activity.” Travis was fortunate to have a teacher who wanted her students to move beyond academics and benefit from extracurricular activities in school. He was also fortunate to have a family that was able to support his interest in student council.
A Professional’s Story:
Betsy Bergman is a special education teacher and Inclusion Facilitator for Enfield Public Schools. As an Inclusion Facilitator, her role is to offer support to school staff who are working to provide meaningful and successful educational experiences for students with a range of abilities in inclusive (general education) settings. Betsy was honored to receive the award of Outstanding Educator from the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress. The following statement includes her appreciation for the award and her thoughts on inclusive education practices.
“I accept this award on behalf of the team of dedicated individuals who worked with me to provide support to a special young man in an inclusive setting. When the Parent of this young man informed me that I had won the award, I thanked her and told her that working with her son has been the greatest educational experience of my life. Through this experience, my philosophy regarding inclusive educational practices has been tested and confirmed. I continue to believe that successful inclusion requires collaboration, a holistic approach to teaching, and a commitment to meeting the needs of students–physical, intellectual, emotional and social–with dignity.”