Excellence in the area of inclusion has brought national awards to three Alberta schools.
St. Jerome Catholic School and Westmount Junior High School, both in Edmonton, along with Ecole Mallaig near St. Paul, all received a National Inclusive Education Award at a ceremony in Edmonton on April 10.
The awards recognize a teacher, school or school district that does an exemplary job of including children with developmental disabilities in the life of the classroom and school, said Bruce Uditsky, CEO of Inclusion Alberta, which administers the awards jointly with the Canadian Association for Community Living.
“When you’re a parent and you see others seeing in your child what you see, when the disability becomes secondary, it gives you encouragement and hope. And I think the schools really provide that,” he said of the winning schools.
The annual awards are based on nominations, which typically come from families of children with developmental disabilities. The association received about half a dozen nominations and, from those, selected the three award recipients, Uditsky said.
Comments made on the nomination forms illustrate how families of developmentally disabled children face many challenges.
“This is the first time since our sojourn to Canada that our knowledge and requests have been respectfully received and this has helped to lift an enormous burden,” wrote the members of one family.
“I thank them for believing in my daughter so that she can learn and have a feeling of belonging,” parents of another child wrote.
The third family heaped much of their praise on their daughter’s teacher.
“The teacher works incredibly hard to adapt the curriculum for meaningful learning,” they wrote. “We were floored to receive a well thought-out report card that highlighted our daughter’s strengths and accomplishments.”
For Uditsky, the awards are about paying attention to “the good work” that is going on in education despite its many challenges.
“We need to recognize that things need to improve, but I think one of our limitations is we don’t pay enough attention to where things are being done really well.” ❚