National Inclusive Schools Week
Since its inception in 2001, National Inclusive Schools Week (NISW) has celebrated the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors.
This year's theme was "Kaleidoscope of Friends." If you look into a kaleidoscope, you see an infinite array of patterns of brilliant light created by repeated reflection. Kaleidoscope comes from two Greek words: kalos, meaning "beautiful," and eidos, "shape." And indeed, education takes on a beautiful shape when all children belong and are valued as contributing members of the school community. That is the vision of inclusive education; it drives decisions, actions, and core beliefs. Repeated reflection helps shape effective practices to meet the needs of all students. When we add the word "friends" to that image, the result is a myriad of relationships that provide opportunities for the support and growth of all children.
District activities for NISW to help promote awareness of kindness, empathy, diversity, and acceptance.
Addy & Uno
Elementary students saw a performance from the off-Broadway musical Addy & Uno. This heartfelt and funny musical tells the story of a puppet named Uno, who has autism and wonders if he can be brave enough to compete in his school's math competition. Told with puppets and catchy songs, the Addy & Uno show is an inspiring journey about the values of kindness, differences, and big dreams. Check out this promo video.
At Bell, inspirational speaker Geri Mariano discussed the many physical, emotional and social challenges she faces as a person with diastrophic dysplasia (a rare form of dwarfism). When people ask if she wanted to be called "handicapped" or "disabled" she would always reply, "Just call me Geri!"
TTA Youth Ambassador Program
Student representatives from the Tourette Association of America's Youth Ambassador Program spoke with Bell and Seven Bridges students. The program brings together, trains and supports teens to advocate for and talk about Tourette and Tic Disorders in their community, with their elected officials and before their peers at school, sports leagues, scout troops, camps, and after-school programs.
5-Minute Car Conversations
The Bell PTA sent parents "Conversation Starters" around the topics of inclusion, compassion, and kindness.
Day 1 - Think about your challenges
Day 2 - Think about your relationships
Day 3 - Think about people with challenges different than your own
Day 4 - Think about how you can make a change
Day 5 - Take Action!
Grafflin students conducted a Skype interview with Cece Bell, author of the graphic memoir El Deafo. At age 4, Cece contracted meningitis, which left her profoundly deaf. The story follows Cece through her early years in school as she learns to live with, accept and finally find strength in her differences. Thanks to Chappaqua Reads - Chappaqua Includes (a partnership between the following organizations: Chappaqua PTA, the Chappaqua Children's Book Festival, the Chappaqua Library, the Chappaqua Central School District, Scattered Books and the New Castle Town Recreation Department), every family in Chappaqua with children in elementary or middle school received a copy of El Deafo as part of a year-long celebration of empathy, inclusion and the love of reading. In addition, the Chappaqua Library created this El Deafo Discussion Guide.
We Are 7B
Being an inclusive school means that we value every person's unique contribution to our community. Students, parents, and staff were encouraged to choose a circle and use words and/or draw something that represents them.
Scavenger Hunt / Movie Screening
Greeley Ambassador's Club facilitated a Cece scavenger hunt and hosted a screening of "Intelligent Lives", a documentary created by filmmaker Dan Habib, a parent of a disabled child and civil rights advocate for people with disabilities. "Intelligent Lives" stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities – Micah, Naieer, and Naomie – who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional personal story of his son Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S. Two-Minute Video Trailer
The Great Kindness Harvest!
Elementary students were encouraged to engage in and/or notice an act of kindness and record it on a carrot with a small note/drawing of the person and act. All Kindness Carrots were added to the PTA bulletin board in the school’s front lobby. Why a carrot? . . .because the characters in El Deafo are bunnies, of course.
This year's NISW Book List focuses on disabilities, accessibility, empathy, and inclusion. Reading levels range from preschool through adults.
Daily Challenges (Elementary Schools)
- Monday: Compliment two people during lunch/recess who you don't know/normally sit with.
- Tuesday: Invite someone to play with you during recess and play a game of their choosing.
- Wednesday: Give someone your turn, (during lunch/while you are getting water/throwing out your lunch), letting someone pass in front of you, and/or holding the door for someone.
- Thursday: Say thank you to a staff member. Make sure to smile.
- Friday: Tell your teacher what is one thing that you like about your class.
What's Your Superpower/Superhero Day
Elementary students created their own capes and shields in class and dressed up as superheroes on Friday to represent their superpower. (Example - My superpower is reading books.)
Elementary students created their own school kaleidoscope to highlight all of the unique qualities of every child.
Inclusive education significantly contributes to the educational experience of all children in many ways. Special educators, educational specialists, and other support personnel, who work in various inclusive classrooms, are able to support all learners regardless of readiness levels.
The instructional teams in schools are expanded by the participation of multidisciplinary personnel made available by special education and enable new teaching and learning experiences in classrooms for all students. Inclusive education enriches the diversity in classroom learning communities providing all students expanded opportunities for better understanding of the world, those around them, and themselves.
In the time that our school district has embraced the inclusive model, the academic outcomes for our students with disabilities have increased and remained strong. During the same period of time, the overall achievement of students throughout the district has consistently been excellent as well.
Great Things Happen In Inclusive Schools!